Tell me if you heard this before but the tight end position is one of the thinnest positions to draft from in fantasy football. You’ve heard this from me before? I thought so. It is the truth. If you’re new to fantasy, the way of the tight end dictates that after the big four (or five depending on who you like to rank) there’s a big drop off after those players are removed from the draft board. But all is not lost. Like anything, you just have to know where to look. My strategy this season is to wait on drafting tight ends. I’ve landed some of my favorite later-round targets at the position and I’ve got some other guys that you should keep track of as the season goes on because we could be seeing them being mentioned on the waiver wire.
Enough chatter. Let’s get into this thing. And if you like the content, make sure you share it with your friends and leave a comment on this article (or any others that you may come across from us. We would love to engage with you this season).
Coming in at the top of my list is New England Patriots tight end, Jonnu Smith. Smith looks to be one of the main focal points in the Patriots offense this season as the wide receiving corp still looks to be lacking in my opinion with Nelson Agholor and Kendrick Bourne recently added with Jakobi Meyers, who’s heading in as the number one receiver this season. Jonnu Smith is a tight end that can be dangerous in the red zone. In 2020, Jonnu Smith finished second among tight ends in fantasy points inside the twenty, right behind Kansas City’s Travis Kelce.
Smith was also the 4th most targeted tight end inside the red zone last season as opposed to his fellow Patriot tight end Hunter Henry, who finished 13th in the same category. While Cam Newton is no longer with the Patriots, rookie quarterback Mac Jones should be looking to use Smith as one of his favorite targets this season.
ADP – 10.10
It may not surprise some that Gronk is on this list but it’s for good reason. Reports of Gronk’s demise have been greatly exaggerated as he returned to football last season with hardly a training camp and finished as a top 10 tight end for the 2020 season. Per Tampa Bay Bucs beat writers, Gronk has had a great training camp this offseason, showing that he’s still in shape and just as dangerous when paired with his long-time quarterback Tom Brady. Heading into the 2021 season, Gronkowski will likely have to fend off fellow tight end O.J. Howard, who’s coming back from a torn Achilles. The rapport with Tom Brady may be the one thing that gives him an edge over Howard this season.
Gronk was tied for 7th in red-zone targets and finished 6th in air yards per game with 54.1. The Bucs are loaded on offense and Brady can literally throw the ball anywhere and it’s going to be caught by a Bucs pass catcher. Gronk was also tied for 1st in end zone targets among tight ends with 12 so when the field shrinks, Brady knows where he wants to go with the ball and Gronk is still one of his favorite targets to score.
ADP – 11.11
Austin Hooper is not a name that I’ve seen too much energy from around fantasy circles but he should get some consideration. Why? Like the other Browns players this season, they finally have stability at the coaching position and enter another year under Kevin Stefanski. Per Browns beat reporter Mary Kay Cabot, Hooper is looking to get an expanded role in the offense this season. He’s been bettering his connection with Baker Mayfield, who’s in a contract year this season. Not to mention that the Browns did just sign Hooper to a contract extension making him currently the 5th highest-paid tight end in the league. You don’t give that kind of money to a blocking tight end.
Hooper will look to improve on his 2020 line of 46 of 70 for 435 yards and four touchdowns but we have seen Hooper put up some solid numbers in the past. When he was with the Falcons in 2019, Hooper finished as the TE6, averaging nearly 15 fantasy points per game that year under Matt Ryan. Hooper is more than capable of getting the job done and the Browns ( and Mayfield) will need to get more out of him for the passing offense to continue to trend upward.
ADP – Undrafted (beyond 15th round)
I think most fantasy managers are reminiscing on the potential Gerald Everett has in the Seahawks offense this season. As they should. After the departure of Jimmy Graham, the Seahawks’ tight-end situation just hasn’t been the same. Graham had solid finishes there in his time in Seattle, finishing inside the top 10 in two of the three years he was there. Everett has a chance to put on something similar as the likely number one tight end on the roster for the Seahawks this season.
With Greg Olsen retiring, Jacob Hollister being released, and Will Dissly unable to ever stay healthy, the Seahawks and Russell Wilson are looking for something, anything at this point from their tight ends. In 2017, Jimmy Graham led the Seahawks tight ends in red-zone targets with 26. In 2020, both Olsen and Hollister tied with nine targets apiece. Everett, if he can get on the same page with Russell Wilson can assume that healthy role and take some heat off of the quarterback.
ADP – 13.05
This last one might be a hail-mary pass. Regardless of that, I still love Mo Alie-Cox this season. I just need the Colts to get on board with this. Jack Doyle has been the tight end one for the Colts for some time but at this point of his career, he just doesn’t have it anymore. MAC has the ability with his 6’5″ frame, and “basketball” level athleticism, he can be a constant mismatch for linebackers and defensive backs that will square up to guard him. We’ve caught glimpses of MAC having breakout games before. Remember he went off in Week 2 against the Vikings going 5 of 6 for 111 yards. In that game, Cox averaged 18.5 yards per target.
Still, whatever the reasoning is, the Colts still allowed Jack Doyle to get the edge in snaps. In 2020, Doyle led the Colts’ tight ends in snaps at 49.5% with Cox coming in second at 46%. With reports of offensive tackle still returning from Achilles surgery and Doyle to help out with blocking, this could open the door for Cox to get more reps as a pass-catcher. However, another hurdle is 4th round rookie TE Kylen Granson, who’s been one of the Colts stars during the offseason and training camp. MAC is the one guy on this list that is worth monitoring but I would take the shot on stashing him especially if the Colts use Doyle as more of a blocker than Cox.
ADP – Undrafted (Beyond the 15th round)