Tight Ends to Take with Your Last Pick in Fantasy Football Drafts for 2021
Over the next few weeks, millions of football fans will be drafting their fantasy football teams. Since you’re here reading this, you’re probably one of them. You also probably listen to The Fantasy Footballers, which means you likely have a strong grasp on the players to target in the early rounds, along with sleepers and breakouts to look for in the middle rounds. So let’s talk about the late rounds. The really late rounds.
Over the last week, I’ve been offering up players you can target at the very end of your drafts. Fliers, dart throws, long shots, whatever you want to call them, these players all have an average draft position (ADP) no sooner than the 18th round. That means you can take them with your last pick in the draft and see if they have a larger than expected role to start the regular season. Even if you don’t draft them, these are players to keep on your radar over the first few weeks as possible waiver wire targets.
I’ve already covered running backs and wide receivers you can look to at the end of your drafts. This final edition of the series will look at everybody’s favorite fantasy football position, tight end. If you’ve been following along the past few seasons, you know the position is typically in disarray after the top tier.
While it may be worth it to take a top-tier tight end early in the draft, you may be best off punting the position to the late rounds if you’re unable to secure one of the truly elite tight ends. Last year, there were two tight ends, Robert Tonyan and Logan Thomas, who finished as top-six fantasy tight ends despite going largely undrafted in fantasy leagues. With this in mind, you could even justify waiting on tight end until the very end of your draft and taking dart throws with your final two picks, just to see if one of them hits the target. If this strategy sounds appealing to you, here are some tight ends to target at the end of your draft.
Blake Jarwin, Dallas Cowboys
Current ADP – 18.09
A year ago, Blake Jarwin was primed for a breakout season, especially if you were on the same page as Mike “The Fantasy Hitman” Wright. Headed into last season, Jarwin had an ADP in round 11 of fantasy drafts, and his managers had high hopes. Those hopes, unfortunately, came crashing down in Week 1 of the 2020 season when Jarwin tore his ACL just 25 snaps into the season.
Flash forward one full year, and what really changed? The Cowboys are returning all of their fantasy-relevant offensive players from the beginning of last season, including quarterback Dak Prescott. Dallas averaged an impressive 31.5 points/game before Prescott suffered his season-ending injury, and during that time, Jarwin’s replacement Dalton Schutz was the fantasy TE8. Based on training camp and preseason reports, Jarwin is easily ahead of Schultz on the depth chart. It is beyond reasonable to project Jarwin as a top-12 tight end in 2021.
Anthony Firkser, Tennessee Titans
Current ADP – 19.09
Did you know that even with Jonnu Smith on the team, Anthony Firkser finished as the TE1 in Week 6 of 2020? Sure, that was his only top-12 finish of the season, but he also finished as a top-24 TE six times last season. While playing alongside Jonnu, he managed to carve out an 11.4% target share and ran 40% of his snaps out of the slot. Better yet, according to Pro Football Focus, he saw a league-high 86% of his targets from the slot.
Now heading into 2021, the Titans have 224 vacated targets and, while they added Julio Jones, Corey Davis, and Jonnu Smith have moved on to new teams. Firkser is set to be the primary tight end in Tennessee, especially when it comes to working in the passing game. There’s no reason to believe that Harvard grad Firkser can’t replicate Jonnu’s TE10 finish from last season in 2021.
Hayden Hurst, Atlanta Falcons
Current ADP – 22.03
Would you be interested in the tight end with the ninth-most fantasy points from last season? What if I told you he also posted seven top-12 fantasy finishes in 2020? Oh, and he’s also a former first-round pick entering his fourth season in the NFL. Believe it or not, this is exactly what you get in Hayden Hurst.
Yes, generational talent Kyle Pitts was drafted fourth overall by the Falcons this season. But let’s look at the bigger picture. Pitts’ athletic profile is closer to Calvin Johnson’s than your prototypical tight end’s. Julio Jones is gone from the Atlanta offense and new head coach Arthur Smith ran more two tight end-sets than any other coach last season as the offensive coordinator in Tennessee. There’s a world where both Pitts and Hurst serve as fantasy-relevant tight ends in 2021, and the gap in fantasy points may not be as large as their current ADP.
Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills
Current ADP – 23.05
We’re deep into dart-throw territory now, but let’s take a second to look at Dawson Knox‘s current situation. He’s the starting tight end in Brian Daboll’s pass-heavy offense. He’s tied to a top fantasy quarterback in Josh Allen. After a bizarre injury mix of concussion, calf injury, and COVID protocols hampered the first half of his season, Knox put up two top-10 tight end finishes over the last five weeks of the 2020 season. The athletic third-year tight end may just be primed for a breakout in 2021.
Donald Parham, Los Angeles Chargers
Current ADP – 42.02
If drafting Knox is a dart throw, taking Donald Parham is akin to standing five feet behind the oche and donning a blindfold before chucking your dart towards the board. Think about how amazing it would feel if you hit the bullseye with that toss.
Our own Robert Wilson profiled Parham as a dynasty stash at the beginning of the month. He’s been getting rave reviews throughout training camp. There’s a legitimate chance that the 6’8” former XFL star makes a fantasy impact in 2021. And just imagine the glory you’ll have if he does after you take him with the last pick in your fantasy draft.