Kansas City Chiefs pass-catcher Travis Kelce is No. 2 on my list of the top 25 tight ends entering this campaign. San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle, New York Giants tight end Evan Engram and Los Angeles Chargers pass-catcher Hunter Henry round out my top five at the position.
Ertz was the most-targeted tight end in the NFL last season, drawing 156 looks in 2018. The two-time Pro Bowl selection enters the 2019 season healthy, and the Eagles have added more offensive playmakers for quarterback Carson Wentz. I expect an improved running game and more speed at the wide receiver position to help Ertz underneath. This could be his first All-Pro campaign.
I split my top targets into five tiers: Hall of Fame, All-Pro, Pro Bowl, Just Napping (early to mid-round targets) and Deep Sleepers (mid- to late-round sleepers).
Hall of Fame
1. Zach Ertz, 2. Travis Kelce
As previously mentioned, Philadelphia Eagles star Zach Ertz is a target vacuum. He is an every week starter in fantasy football, regardless of format. I'm expecting his second consecutive 1,000-yard season and at least 10 scores this season from the Eagles playmaker.
The Kansas City Chiefs were as explosive as it gets last season while being led by NFL MVP Patrick Mahomes. The Chiefs quarterback returns for a second season as the team's full-time starter. I expect Kelce to be his typical self, but the Tyreek Hill situation is one to monitor. Without the threat of Hill running routes over the top, defenses could bring more men into the box to stop Kelce, slightly hurting his production. He is still an elite option at the position, but not my top option entering the 2019 season.
3. George Kittle
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle exploded onto the scene in 2019, nearly doubling all of his offensive statistics from his rookie campaign. Kittle posted 88 catches for 1,377 yards and five scores in his 16 starts last season. He did all of that despite a revolving door at quarterback, following an injury to starter Jimmy Garoppolo, and playing through his own injuries. The 49ers have added some more offensive firepower and Kittle looks great heading into camp. He is another elite option at the position and is my No. 3 tight end entering fantasy football drafts.
5. Hunter Henry
I expect Los Angeles Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers to put himself in the MVP conversation and lead his squad to an AFC West title this season. Hunter Henry should play a huge role in his success. I have Henry ranked as my No. 5 tight end. The versatile pass-catcher is primed for a big 2019 season after missing his 2018 campaign due to a torn ACL. Henry should get 50 to 75 catches this season and get close to 800 yards and at least eight scores in this prolific offense. Those stats would put him in elite territory. Henry could be a steal in fantasy football drafts for leagues that require starting at tight end.
Cleveland Browns tight end David Njoku is my No. 6 option at tight end this season. Njoku is surrounded by playmakers and already has the trust of quarterback Baker Mayfield. He should find plenty of open space against opposing defenses. I expect Njoku to get near 800 yards and have at least seven touchdowns in 2019.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers quarterback Jameis Winston enters the 2019 season with a lot to prove. But he also has some solid pass-catchers to throw to and an offensive-minded head coach with a reputation for being a quarterback guru. O.J. Howard put up solid numbers in 2018 despite inconsistent quarterback play and being limited to 10 games. He posted 565 yards and five scores in that limited timeframe. I'm expecting Howard to get near 1,000 yards this season as a go-to option for Winston. He has a very high ceiling in 2019 and should be one of the most consistent options at the position if he stays healthy.
13. Jimmy Graham, 18. Mark Andrews, 22. Noah Fant
Green Bay Packers tight end Jimmy Graham is back with the team for another season after posting lackluster numbers during his first season with the franchise. Hopes were high for Graham entering his 2018 campaign, after he scored 10 touchdowns in 16 games for the Seattle Seahawks in 2017. He posted 636 yards in 16 games for the Packers, but reached the end zone just twice. The Packers went through a coaching change and moved on from veteran wide receiver Randall Cobb. The NFC North franchise also traded pass-catching running back Ty Montomery last season. Those moves equate to some more targets for Graham. I expect the veteran tight end to play a larger role in the offense this season. He is a matchup-based starter in fantasy football leagues the require starting a tight end.
Denver Broncos rookie Noah Fant is another good target on draft day. The Broncos have one of the easiest schedules in the league when it comes to tight ends. Denver has six games in 2019 against teams that ranked inside the top five for allowing the most fantasy points to opposing wide receivers in 2018. Fant -- the No. 20 overall pick in the 2019 NFL Draft -- is an athletic freak. He should have some big games in 2019, you just have to have him in your lineup when the match sparks.
Top 25 Fantasy Football Tight end Rankings for 2019
1. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles, Bye Week 10
2. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs, Bye Week 12
3. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers, Bye Week 4
4. Evan Engram, New York Giants, Bye Week 11
5. Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers, Bye Week 12.
6. David Njoku, Cleveland Browns, Bye Week 7
8. O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bye Week 7
9. Trey Burton, Chicago Bears, Bye Week 6
10. Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh Steelers, Bye Week 7
13. Jimmy Graham, Green Bay Packers, Bye Week 11
16. Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts, Bye Week 6
18. Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens, Bye Week 8
19. T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions, Bye Week 5
21. Chris Herndon, New York Jets, Bye Week 4
22. Noah Fant, Denver Broncos, Bye Week 10
24. Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins, Bye Week 5
25. Ricky Seals-Jones, Arizona Cardinals, Bye Week 12