Must-Have Tight Ends (2021 Fantasy Football)
Yesterday, I named my must-have quarterbacks and highlighted guys currently ranked outside the top-12 at the position. That’s a fine tier break for signal-callers, but the separation of “elite and reliable” to “cross your fingers and hold onto your ass” is negligible at tight end. That’s why I’ll touch on players outside the top-5 at the position. These are guys who I think could blow past their current Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR), and that’s why they’re my must-haves. Here we go!
Dallas Goedert (TE – PHI): Positional ECR 7
The writing is on the wall for Zach Ertz to be playing for another team when the 2021 season starts, and even if he’s not, there’s no guarantee he’ll be the Eagles’ top tight end. Goedert should have that role on lockdown after his most productive season to date. Despite playing in only 11 games in 2020, Goedert produced career highs across the board in targets per game (5.9), receptions per game (4.2), yards per game (47.6), and yards per reception (11.4). Philly’s receiving corps remains one of the weakest in the NFL, and Goedert should be a reliable and high-volume target for Jalen Hurts as the second-year signal-caller starts his first full NFL season.
Robert Tonyan (TE – GB): Positional ECR 8
“Big Bob” Tonyan was a big-time fantasy asset last season, cracking the top-3 at his position thanks to a healthy 52/586/11 that included the most touchdowns scored among tight ends and a ridiculous 88.1 catch percentage. In short, the dude had one of the most efficient seasons we’ve ever seen from a tight end, as he brought in nearly everything thrown his way and converted more than 20% of his grabs into scores. Touchdowns are tough to predict and projecting Tonyan for double-digits again would be bold, but can he reasonably see 59 targets again? Definitely. Can he be efficient and score at a high clip? Absolutely. Unless Green Bay addresses the receiver position in the draft, the Packers will be looking at Davante Adams as the WR1 and a cavernous drop-off to the next pass-catcher. That could certainly be Tonyan. Ranked as TE8, I like his combination of price and his upside.
Logan Thomas (TE – WFT): Positional ECR 11
Thomas broke out in 2020, finishing as the TE6 behind a 72/670/6 receiving line on 110 targets. He only got better as the season went on, and from Weeks 11-17, he was the TE3 behind only Darren Waller and Travis Kelce. Washington added Curtis Samuel to the receiving corps for 2021, and while Samuel will likely draw some targets away from Thomas, the tight end shouldn’t see a precipitous drop-off in production. He’s a fine selection at the position who could finish better than his back-end TE1 ranking.
Gerald Everett (TE – SEA): Positional ECR 25
Everett certainly didn’t knock anyone’s socks off with his numbers last season, but he proved to be a reliable chain-mover for Jared Goff in the Rams’ offense while competing for targets with Tyler Higbee. Now, Everett will be free to operate as Seattle’s TE1 for an offense that has been underwhelming at the position since Jimmy Graham left after the 2017 season. In his three seasons with the ‘Hawks, Graham scored 18 times and averaged 88 targets per season. Everett is far from Graham’s talent level, but as a quality option at the position, there’s hope for a healthy role that could yield plenty of fantasy points in 2021. D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett will command plenty of defensive attention, leaving Everett to rack up some short-to-intermediate yardage and some red zone looks.
Adam Trautman (TE – NO): Positional ECR 32
Trautman is a dude I’m really excited about heading into 2021. With Emmanuel Sanders, Jared Cook, and Josh Hill gone, last year’s third-round pick will look to take on a lead role in the Saints’ offense. Michael Thomas will be the team’s clear top choice at receiver with Alvin Kamara getting his fair share of looks in the process, but outside of those two, the targets are ripe for the picking. As a rookie in 2020, Trautman secured 15 of his 16 targets for 171 yards and a touchdown, making the most of his very limited action. At 6’5/255, he’s got a huge frame that will be perfect for jump balls in the end zone and muscling defenders out for receptions across the middle of the field. There’s absolutely no way Trautman finishes anywhere near this ridiculously low ranking, and he makes a high-upside pick at the end of fantasy drafts, especially if Jameis Winston secures the starting quarterback job.
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