Before we get to the 25 tight end statistics, let’s take a look at the tight end position from the perspective of the fantasy draft. Was it wise to grab an early tight end this year? Or were owners who grabbed a tight end late in drafts rewarded?
Most owners who drafted an early tight end were happy with their pick in 2019. Ten tight ends averaged 10+ points per game in 2019 when healthy. Only one of them went undrafted: Will Dissly, who only played six games this season. Of the nine tight ends who were commonly drafted in fantasy football, six of them had average draft positions (ADPs) in the sixth round or earlier. There were only two clear tight end busts this year: OJ Howard (5th round ADP | 5.1 pts/g) and Vance McDonald (7th round ADP | 4.7 pts/g). Some owners who took a late-round TE approach were rewarded with players like Mark Andrews and Darren Waller. Like most years in recent memory, you were stuck throwing a dart at barfy tight ends on the waiver wire if you didn’t end up with a solid tight end to start the year. That being said, there were a handful of tight ends that had stretches of productive fantasy games (Tyler Higbee, Dallas Goedert, Mike Gesicki, etc). While fantasy owners should always draft best overall value, there is something to be said about having peace of mind at the tight end position.
The table below shows average fantasy points per game based on the draft round for each position.
Similarly, the graph below shows tight end fantasy production by ADP.
Now let’s get to the 25 tight end statistics of 2019! Editor’s Note: Everything based on ½-point per reception scoring. Unless otherwise noted, rankings are based on points-per-game from Week 1 through Week 16.
1. As mentioned earlier, ten tight ends averaged 10+ points per game in 2019. By comparison, there were 37 wide receivers and 29 running backs who finished with 10+ points per game.
2. Travis Kelce was a beast this season. While everyone knows that, let’s look at the numbers. Travis Kelce paced all tight ends in 2019 with 13.5 average points per game. Compared to wide receivers, he would have been tied with Julian Edelman as WR10 on the season. Travis Kelce has finished as a top-2 fantasy tight end four years in a row, finishing as the TE1 overall in three of those seasons. Despite being the TE1 in 2019, six tight ends scored more touchdowns than Kelce in 2019. Travis Kelce had the second-most targets (12) inside the 10-yard line among all NFL players in 2019. In fact, Kelce received a league-leading 41.4% of his team’s targets inside the 10-yard line among all NFL players in 2019. Despite this, 47 NFL players caught more touchdowns than Kelce did inside the 10-yard line this year. Travis Kelce’s 205.8 total fantasy points from Weeks 1 – 17 would have put him at TE4 in 2018. For reference, the best season by a tight end in the past 18 years was Rob Gronkowski with 285.9 total fantasy points in 2011, 39% better than Kelce’s 2019 fantasy output.
3. Travis Kelce had 13 games with at least nine points. The next best mark was nine games with at least nine points (George Kittle, Austin Hooper, and Mark Andrews). Kelce never finished as the TE1 on a week, but he had seven top-6 performances.
4. George Kittle proved he was the real deal this season, scoring 12.9 points per game. He was consistent and performed nearly the same as Kelce despite being drafted a round later (ADP 3rd round). Kittle and Kelce were in their own tier this year, but Kelce was slightly more valuable as Kittle missed two games this season. Both will be playing in the Superbowl this season.
5. Six NFL teams targeted the tight end position 25% or more of the time in 2019: Ravens (42%), Eagles (39%), Raiders (33%), Colts (29%), 49ers (28%), Chiefs (28%), Rams (26%), and Titans (25%).
6. Darren Waller had 27.9% of his team’s total receiving yards in Weeks 1 – 17, most by any tight end.
7. George Kittle and Mark Andrews both had three weeks as the number one fantasy tight end, the most at the position.
8. Two tight ends had 1,000+ receiving yards this season: Travis Kelce and Darren Waller.
9. There were 25 total instances where a tight end finished with 20+ fantasy points in a single game in 2019. Mark Andrews had four of them. Travis Kelce and George Kittle only had one each.
11. Jared Cook led tight ends with 16.1 average yards per reception. The tight ends who finished second and third in this metric were both rookies. Noah Fant averaged 14.3 yards per reception. Dawson Knox averaged 13.9 yards per reception.
12. Jared Cook was a top-12 tight end in nine of the ten games he played in from Weeks 5 – 17. He was a top-3 tight end three times in a five-week span during that run. Conversely, he started the season with four straight games outside the top-22 at the position.
13. Noah Fant had as many 100+ yard receiving games as Travis Kelce (2).
14. Darren Waller and Tyler Higbee had four games each with 100+ receiving yards, pacing all tight ends.
15. Three of the top-10 tight ends put up five dud (< 7 pts) performances: Mark Andrews, Zach Ertz, and Darren Waller.
16. Tyler Higbee had more games with 7+ receptions than both Mark Andrews and George Kittle.
17. Zach Ertz received 135 targets, most by any TE. Only seven wide receivers saw more targets in 2019.
18. Darren Waller receives the award for best fantasy day among all tight ends in 2019. Waller had seven receptions for 126 yards and two touchdowns for 28.1 fantasy points in Week 7.
19. Noah Fant and Evan Engram both recorded a 75-yard reception in 2019, pacing all tight ends.
20. Austin Hooper was the TE1 overall at the beginning of the season, averaging 14.6 fantasy points per game from Weeks 1 – 8. He returned from a mid-season injury in Week 14 just in time to play every game of the fantasy playoffs. Here is a list of players that outscored Austin Hooper in the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 14 – 16): Hunter Henry, Jason Witten, OJ Howard, Kaden Smith, Noah Fant, Tyler Eifert, Darren Waller, Mike Gesicki, Dallas Goedert, Jonnu Smith, Mark Andrews, Zach Ertz, Tyler Higbee, Jared Cook, Travis Kelce, and George Kittle.
21. T.J. Hockenson blew up in Week 1 with a 22.1 point fantasy performance (6 rec for 131 yds & 1 TD). That accounted for 34% of his total fantasy points in his 2019 rookie season. He played seven games this season where he scored fewer than five fantasy points.
22. Will Dissly only played six games this season. He averaged 10.4 fantasy points per game. He scored four touchdowns. In a limited sample size (27 total targets), he logged an 85.2% catch rate.
23. Tyler Higbee led all tight ends with a 79.2% catch rate (min 50 targets). Darren Waller came in second at 78.5%.
24. In his final four games of the fantasy season (Weeks 13 – 16), Tyler Higbee scored more than 15 fantasy points in every single game.
25. The MVP of the fantasy playoffs was George Kittle, who led all tight ends with three performances of 15+ fantasy points. Honorable mention to Travis Kelce, Tyler Higbee, and Jonnu Smith who scored 10+ fantasy points in every fantasy playoff game (in addition to Kittle).