Fantasy Football: Early Top-10 TE Rankings for 2019
In the most recent episode of The Fantasy Footballers Podcast, hosts Andy, Mike, and Jason discussed their consensus top-10 TEs. The Tight End landscape in fantasy football has become bleak in recent years. There is a consensus #1 that sits head and tail above all of his positional peers and then there are a whole lot of questions from #2 on. Even in the Ballers’ ranking, they agree completely on the first 3 ranked TEs but then rankings for 4-10 are all over the place. Drafting a fantasy Tight End will be an interesting task in 2019 (good thing we wrote a strategy to help you with that!).
You can listen to the entire podcast of the Ballers’ Early Top-10 Tight End Rankings.
1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
The only question with Travis Kelce is “Are you willing to pay the price?” He was the #1 fantasy TE last season by more than 20 points. Looking at the Consistency Rankings in the Ultimate Draft Kit, he was the most consistent TE in 2018. He was also a top 10 WR in terms of overall fantasy points. As the Tyreek Hill situation unfolds, it appears that Kelce will have far less talented competition for targets. Kelce is as close to a lock that exists in fantasy football. His ADP puts him in the early 2nd round but Kelce is in a class of his own in 2019.
2. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
Ertz had a perfect storm working in his favor last year. There was essentially no competition for targets at the WR position, the Eagles had no pass-catching RB, and Ertz and Wentz had the best chemistry on the team. That resulted in a league-leading 156 targets and 116 receptions for the TE position. Ertz took in 23% of the total targets for the Eagles. The issue for Ertz is that they now have a healthy Alshon Jeffrey, the return of DeSean Jackson, the addition of rookie WR JJ Arcega-Whiteside, and the emergence of sophomore TE Dallas Goedert. Will Ertz be able to sustain his rank in a situation that may result in far fewer targets?
3. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
Kittle was the #3 fantasy TE last season and recorded more yards than any TE ever had before. The situation in San Francisco was very similar to Philadelphia, in that Kittle had almost no competition for targets and that should change in 2019. However, he also lost his franchise QB very early on last season and, while he and Jimmy Handsome haven’t played together much, Garoppolo is a major improvement on his 2018 QB situation. Even with slight regression, Kittle is the best receiving option on an up-and-coming offense and should find himself as a top-3 fantasy TE.
4. O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
O.J. Howard has to stay on the field! He was the 4th most consistent TE in fantasy last year but only played in ten games. He was still the TE12, despite only playing in those 10 games. Howard seems too talented to be neglected by new head coach Bruce Arians, who does not have a great history with fantasy TEs. He has the skill set to play every down and will be a red-zone favorite for Jameis Winston.
5. Evan Engram, New York Giants
After an outstanding rookie year that had him finish as the overall TE5, 2018 brought regression and injury. Neither Sterling Shephard nor Golden Tate represents downfield threats, so Engram could be the home-run hitter for this Giants offense with the departure of Odell Beckham Jr. In the four games last season that Engram played without OBJ, he scored 51.6 of his 101.8 total fantasy points (50.6%). Engram was the TE5 over the seasons final five weeks. His 5th Round ADP is still a little high right now, but if he starts to fall, he could be a value come draft day.
6. Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers
“If he had played in 2018, and dominated, he could have been the 3rd or 4th guy on this list” – Jason Moore
Thank you, Jason, for explaining how dominating works! But to Mr. Moore’s point, every other player we’re talking about did play and Henry has become a forgotten man. Henry scored four TDs in only 12 games in 2017 and is averaging a TD every two games for his career. Philip Rivers has always been a QB that utilizes his TE well, especially in the red zone. Unfortunately, Henry’s ADP offers no injury discount right now, being drafted in the 5th round.
7. Eric Ebron, Indianapolis Colts
Speaking of guys who played in 2018 and dominated, Ebron was the TE4 last year, scoring 13 TDs on 110 targets. It was a long time coming for fantasy owners. With the additions of Devin Funchess and Parris Campbell, plus the return of Jack Doyle, Ebron could see his targets largely cut. It is really a question of how many TDs do you think he can score? Andy and Jason concede regression from his 13 TDs but feel that he could still hit double digits. Mike thinks that last season was “a friendship of opportunity” and that the new guys will limit his value greatly.
8. David Njoku, Cleveland Browns
Like Ebron, there is some dissent with this ranking. While Mike and Andy want Njoku to prove something to them this season, Jason sees him as a top-5 TE right now. Njoku was the TE9 last year and finished 17th in consistency rankings. While he may have some of the best TD celebrations in the league, he simply doesn’t find the end zone enough. If Njoku could not dominate without Odell Beckham stealing targets, why will he once he is contending with Odell for looks? In order to live up to expectations, Njoku will need to cut the drops and improve his catch rate significantly to compensate for little to no increase in targets.
9. Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints
Cook benefited from being the only viable target in Oakland last season and parlayed that into the TE5 season. He will now try to be the dominant TE that New Orleans has been missing since the departure of Jimmy Graham. Cook finds himself the likely third target for Drew Brees, behind Michael Thomas and Alvin Kamara, and that is a valuable spot to be in for fantasy purposes. Cook is not the next Jimmy Graham, but it’s not gonna take that to be the TE9 this season.
10. Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh Steelers
Mike is just so excited that other people are finally joining him on the floor for the Vance Dance! Last season, while splitting time with Jesse James, McDonald reeled in 50 balls and four TDs on his way to a TE10 finish. With James gone, along with Lev Bell and Antonio Brown, there are targets to be had for Vance. Upside is the key for McDonald, it doesn’t take much to sneak into the TE top 5, and McDonald, in this Pittsburgh offense, is a guy that could score the TDs needed to sneak into the top-5.
If you prefer to draft TEs late and/or stream them the entire season, check out Eric Ludwig‘s Late Round Fliers article.