The tight end position has become an afterthought for most fantasy managers.
The perception of the group is that there is Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and a bunch of question marks. I do agree that there are a few players in questionable situations, but I like to view the tight end position as an opportunity to supplement the rest of my roster. You are going to have to start a tight end on a weekly basis, and some managers opt to stream the position on a week to week basis, but you may decide to take a different approach after reading this.
Kelce and Kittle are both likely to be selected before the end of the third round in your home draft, but the real question is how long do you have to wait to see the next tight end picked. Most teams will be rushing to scoop up running backs and receivers in the first five rounds, not worrying about quarterbacks and tight ends until the later mid rounds. This strategy is fine and has worked for many championship fantasy teams. There is plenty of value at the tail end of drafts at the position including Mike Gesicki, Eric Ebron, and T.J. Hockenson. But this article will look at what players you can draft in the mid rounds to secure a top end talent at the position before other managers steal them out from under you.
Here's our staff rankings for tight ends heading into the 2020 season.
Rob Gronkowski Tampa Bay Bucanneers
Findbet Overall ADP 77
Position ADP 8
Gronk has made his return to the NFL and he will be reuniting with his longtime teammate, Tom Brady, which bodes well for the duo as they may be the greatest quarterback and tight end combo in history. Gronkowski's sabbatical away from football was short, and his time away surely has helped his body recover in a way it wasn't able to during his initial playing career in New England. There is undoubtedly a rust issue that will surround Gronk and affect his ADP, but I am willing to take Gronk as my starting tight end in redraft leagues. Expect him to fall into place with Brady quickly and get a ton of targets, especially in the red zone. There are no shortage of weapons to be found in Tampa, but Gronkowski demands immediate attention in any offense, and as long as he can stay healthy he should challenge Mike Evans and Chris Godwin for targets and cause headaches for defenses on a weekly basis.
Austin Hooper Cleveland Browns
Findbet Overall ADP 87
Position ADP 9
Hooper landed a big free agent contract with Cleveland in the offseason and is coming off a career best, pro bowl 2019 season. Considering new head coach Kevin Stefanski's use of tight ends I find Hooper to be severely undervalued going into drafts. Considering Hooper is a solid blocker he will be utilized heavily in play action sets, and he has improved as a red zone pass catcher during his first four seasons. Baker Mayfield is in a make or break season, and young quarterbacks can always benefit from having a reliable pass catching tight end after their initial reads breakdown. The team was nearly forced to meet trade demands from David Njoku, but they have seemingly resolved their issues and Njoku is on board with Cleveland in 2020. This shouldn't be seen as a negative for Hooper, rather look at it as assurance that Stefanski is dedicated to involving his tight ends and wants a strong group in place. When Hooper signed his $42 million contract ($23 million guaranteed) it made him the highest paid tight end in the league at the time. This should tell you that Hooper will be used early and often in the Browns' new offense and could yield WR 2 production in rounds 7-10.
Blake Jarwin Dallas Cowboys
Findbet Overall ADP 129
Position ADP 15
Jarwin isn't on this list because of his potential ceiling in the Dallas offense. I wouldn't recommend going into your draft with Jarwin as your only plan at the tight end position, but he is a candidate to far exceed expectations. The Cowboys offense was nothing short of explosive last season and they added CeeDee Lamb in the draft. With studs at every position, the Cowboys will likely find Jarwin in open space a lot in 2020, and if he is able to capitalize on those opportunities he could end up being a top 5 fantasy tight end. Jason Witten leaves behind 83 targets which will likely be split up between Jarwin and Lamb. Jarwin was very efficient with his targets last year catching 31 of 41 passes for 365 yards and 3 touchdowns. Although it's very difficult to project the target share in Dallas, if Jarwin can double his production from last season with double the targets he would easily finish within the top 10 at his position. In most drafts Jarwin isn't going until the last couple rounds, if at all, so keep an eye on him as one of the biggest sleepers in the draft.