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Dynasty Draft Strategy, Rankings & Tiers: Tight Ends (2024 Fantasy Football)

Dynasty Draft Strategy, Rankings & Tiers: Tight Ends (2024 Fantasy Football)

Fantasy football’s tight end landscape is changing. It was once a dry, arid place with more tumbleweeds than trees. But the position is becoming lusher and greener, fertilized by a recent infusion of talented young tight ends.

This is a welcome development, right? There are more high-quality tight ends these days, so you can get a good one in your startup draft without an egregious overreach.

Yes, but there’s still a finite supply of good tight ends, and there’s no rule against any of your opponents grabbing two of them in a startup draft. The high achievers and young studs at the position can slip away if you wait too long.

2024 Dynasty Fantasy Football Guide

Dynasty Draft Strategy, Rankings & Tiers: Tight Ends

Some dynasty leagues use TE-premium scoring. If you’re in a TE-premium league, you might want to place greater emphasis on the position.

In the TE-premium format, tight ends are awarded more points per reception than players at other positions. If RBs and WRs get 1.0 points per reception, tight ends might get 1.5. If running backs and wide receivers get 0.5 points per reception, tight ends might get 1.0.

TE-Premium Draft Strategies

With the greater emphasis on tight ends in the TE-premium format, there are two possible approaches you can take:

Attack the tight end position aggressively. With the greater rewards for tight ends, strength at the position is handsomely rewarded, incentivizing you to acquire a top tight end in the early rounds.

Cut corners at the tight end position. This might seem counterintuitive. Why cut corners at tight end when TE-premium scoring is more heavily weighted? Well, since tight ends come off the board earlier in TE-premium startups, that means good players at other positions are available later in the draft than they would be otherwise. You can scoop up value at other positions, and if you can figure out a way to get adequate tight end production on the cheap, you’ll be ahead of the game.

Non-TE-Premium Draft Strategies

Ok, back to tight end strategy for leagues with conventional scoring for tight ends…

Let me repeat something I wrote in earlier articles about how to attack the various positions in dynasty startups: Before you start drafting, you need to chart a course and then build a coherent draft strategy around it.

Charting a course means deciding when you expect your team to establish its dynastic reign over the league. Here are the three options:

  • Win Now: Establish your dominance immediately. While your competitors focus on youth in the startup draft, scoop up proven veterans at discounted prices and build a roster that will be a favorite for the league title in Year 1.
  • Win in Year 2: Focus on youth but mix in some proven veterans. Your young roster might not have the juice to win right away, but you’ll have a collection of players whose value will likely be higher a year from now, positioning you to contend in Year 2.
  • Productive Struggle: (Hat tip to Ryan McDowell of Dynasty League Football for coining the term.) Commit to a slow build that will put you in title contention in 2-3 years. Focus heavily on youth in the startup draft and be willing to trade startup picks for picks in future rookie drafts.

You’re probably not targeting Travis Kelce or George Kittle if you’re taking a Win in Year 2 approach. Kelce is 34. Kittle is 30. But newer models such as Dalton Kincaid and Kyle Pitts are nice fits for your longer-term approach.

2024 NFL Draft Guide

Tight End Rankings & Tiers

Here are the top 20 tight ends in my dynasty rankings, sorted into tiers, with thoughts on some of the players from each tier.

Young Cornerstones

Sam LaPorta, the 34th overall pick in last year’s draft, had 889 receiving yards and 10 TDs as a rookie despite sharing targets with a 1,400-yard wide receiver in Amon-Ra St. Brown. Brock Bowers is the best tight end prospect to come into the league since the turn of the century. Trey McBride’s career kicked into overdrive last season as soon as the Cardinals got rid of Zach Ertz. A first-round draft pick last year, Dalton Kincaid ramped up his production late last season and should see more targets in 2024 now that the Bills have traded away wide receiver Stefon Diggs. Don’t give up on Kyle Pitts, who had 1,000 yards as a rookie but has been hindered by injuries and poor play-calling the last two years.

Top Veterans

Mark Andrews investors caught a tough break last year when he sustained a season-ending ankle injury in Week 11. He should once again be a stalwart as he enters his age-29 season. T.J. Hockenson turns 27 in July, so he’s still in his prime, but the major knee injury he sustained late last season clouds his long-term outlook. Travis Kelce fell 16 yards short of an eighth straight 1,000-yard season. He’s 34 now, and perhaps he’s slowing down, but when a tight end has 93 catches and people consider it a down year, we’re talking about a special player.

Up-and-Coming

The 25-year-old Cole Kmet is an underrated gem who had 73 catches for 719 yards last season. He’s a good buy-low target now that the Bears have added wide receiver Keenan Allen and tight end Gerald Everett to complicate Kmet’s target outlook. Fresh off a 71-catch, 761-yard season, third-year man Jake Ferguson is more than just a one-year wonder. Second-year Green Bay tight ends Luke Musgrave and Tucker Kraft flashed as rookies but may cannibalize each other’s fantasy value in their first few years in the league.

Useful

Pat Freiermuth is only 25 and could be busy in the Pittsburgh offense this season now that the stealers have dealt away wide receiver Diontae Johnson. Targets could be harder to come by for Dalton Schultz with the Texans’ acquisition of Stefon Diggs.

Final Thoughts

A few final thoughts about drafting tight ends in dynasty startups:

  • In leagues that aren’t TE-premium, there’s nothing wrong with cutting corners at tight end. Sure, it’s great to have a young, productive tight end anchoring the position for you. But if you plow your draft capital into other positions, it’s fine to ham-and-egg it with older but still productive veteran tight ends.
  • Draft capital generally means less at tight end than it does at wide receiver or running back. It’s not uncommon for early-round tight ends to bust, or for late-round tight ends to have productive careers. Keep that in mind when evaluating the position.
  • If you don’t have a top tight end, attack the position with volume. Dynasty rosters are usually much bigger than redraft rosters, so you can carry 3-to-5 tight ends and hope one pops. And it’s usually easier to find useful tight ends on the waiver wire in dynasty leagues than it is to find useful running backs or wide receivers.
  • Remember: It’s a dynasty league and dynasty managers generally like to trade. If you’re not content with your tight ends coming out of the startup draft, find the managers with a tight end surplus and start negotiating.

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