Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) is one of the top pass catchers in fantasy football and my top tight end in 2021. File Photo by Kyle Rivas/UPI | License Photo
Aug. 25 (UPI) -- Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs and George Kittle of the San Francisco 49ers lead my Top 25 tight end rankings for the 2021 fantasy football season.
Darren Waller, Mark Andrews, T.J. Hockenson, Mike Gesicki and Kyle Pitts are among my other top tight end options. Many leagues don't require starting a tight end, but this list can help you determine whom to select in your draft if your lineup features a tight end slot.
Outside of two or three elite players, the tight end position consists mostly of players who need a touchdown to be relevant on a weekly basis in fantasy football. Look to target players in your draft who are a first or second pass catching option in their respective offense. You also should look for players who are consistent red zone targets.
I split my top tight end 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). The full rankings are below.
Hall of Fame
1. Travis Kelce, 2. George Kittle
Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs is quarterback Patrick Mahomes' top target and one of the most-prolific tight ends in league history. He led tight ends with 145 targets in 2020, when he pulled in a career-high 105 catches for 1,416 yards and 11 scores.
Kelce is on track for another fantastic season and is worth an early-round pick regardless of your league's format. I expect Kelce to haul in at least 100 catches for 1,400 yards and 10 scores once again in 2021.
San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle missed eight games last season due to injury. The two-time Pro Bowl selection pulled in 85 catches for 1,053 yards and five scores in 14 games in 2019. He should post a similar season, if he stays healthy, in 2021.
Kittle is my No. 2 tight end and worth a second or third round pick if your league features at least 14 teams.
3. Darren Waller, 4. Mark Andrews
Darren Waller of the Las Vegas Raiders is a tier below Kittle and Kelce, but still an elite tight end. Waller totaled 1,196 yards and nine scores on 107 catches in 16 games last season.
Waller is a terrific player to wait for if you don't pick Kelce or Kittle early on, but I wouldn't pick him earlier than the fourth round in a league that requires starting a tight end.
Waller ranked eighth in targets in 2020 and drew double-digit looks in seven games. He is a huge part of the Raiders offense and should give your team a weekly advantage at the position.
Mark Andrews isn't quite as prolific as Kelce, Kittle or Waller, but remains an elite tight end option. The Ravens pass catcher is one of quarterback Lamar Jackson's top targets. I expect Jackson's passing touchdown total to increase this season and Andrews should benefit the most in the red zone.
The Ravens' schedule features five matchups against teams that ranked inside the Top 10 for most fantasy points allowed to tight ends last season.
Andrews is my No. 4 option at the position.
5. T.J. Hockenson, 6. Mike Gesicki
Detroit Lions tight end T.J. Hockenson made his first Pro Bowl in 2020. He ranked second in receiving yards among Lions pass catchers and could lead the team in that category in 2021.
The Lions schedule features five matchups against teams that ranked inside the Top 10 for the most fantasy points allowed to tight ends last season. Hockenson is a near lock to pull in at least 75 catches for 850 yards and eight scores in 2021.
Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki is one of my 2021 fantasy football breakout candidates. Gesicki hauled in 53 catches for 703 yards and six scores in 15 games last season. Look for the Dolphins to involve Gesicki even more in their game plan in 2021, especially in the red zone.
I expect at least 800 yards and 10 scores from the Dolphins tight end. The Dolphins have one of the most fantasy football friendly schedules for tight ends this season, with seven games against teams that ranked inside the Top 10 for the most fantasy points allowed to the position in 2020.
Gesicki is my No. 6 tight end.
7. Kyle Pitts, 8. Logan Thomas, 9. Jonnu Smith
Logan Thomas is a great late round target if you wait to select a tight end in your draft. The Washington Football Team target made a career-high 72 catches for 670 yards and six scores in 16 games last season. Ryan Fitzpatrick should provide the team with an upgrade at quarterback, which should improve Thomas' statistics.
Look for Thomas to make at least 80 catches this season. He should near 750 receiving yards. Washington's schedule includes five games against teams that ranked inside the Top 10 for the most fantasy points allowed to tight ends. Thomas is my No. 8 option.
The New England Patriots' schedule features an NFL-high eight games against teams that ranked inside the Top 10 for the most fantasy points allowed to tight ends last season.
The Patriots signed Jonnu Smith this off-season and he should be a big part of the offense. Look for Smith to haul in at least 50 catches and come close to eight receiving scores in 2021.
12. Eric Ebron, 16. Robert Tonyan, 18. Blake Jarwin
Eric Ebron of the Pittsburgh Steelers is one of my favorite sleeper picks this season. Ebron turned his 91 targets into 56 catches for 558 yards and five scores in 15 games last season. He should improve on those statistics in 2021.
The Steelers schedule features six games against teams that ranked inside the Top 10 for the most fantasy points allowed in 2020.
Ebron is my No. 12 tight end.
Green Bay Packers tight end Robert Tonyan is my No. 16 option at the position. Tonyan will catch passes for reigning NFL MVP Aaron Rodgers again this season. He should benefit most when teams decide to focus their defense on Packers wide receiver Davante Adams.
Tonyan caught a career-high 11 touchdowns last season. I expect him to score at least 10 touchdowns again in 2021. He also should eclipse his 586 yards from 2020.
Tonyan is another great player to target if you decide to wait on drafting a tight end.
Top 25 Fantasy Football Tight end Rankings for 2021
1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs, Bye Week 12
2. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers, Bye Week 6
3. Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders, Bye Week 8
4. Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens, Bye Week 8
5. T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions, Bye Week 9
6. Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins, Bye Week 14
7. Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons, Bye Week 6
8. Logan Thomas, Washington Football Team, Bye Week 9
9. Jonnu Smith, New England Patriots, Bye Week 14
10. Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles, Bye Week 14
11. Noah Fant, Denver Broncos, Bye Week 11
12. Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh Steelers, Bye Week 7
13. Evan Engram, New York Giants, Bye Week 10
14. Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, Bye Week 9
15. Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams, Bye Week 11
16. Robert Tonyan, Green Bay Packers, Bye Week 13
17. Adam Trautman, New Orleans Saints, Bye Week 6
18. Blake Jarwin, Dallas Cowboys, Bye Week 7
19. Gerald Everett, Seattle Seahawks, Bye Week 9
20. Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns, Bye Week 13
21. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles, Bye Week 14
22. Hunter Henry, New England Patriots, Bye Week 14
23. Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints, Bye Week 7
24. Anthony Firkser, Tennessee Titans, Bye Week 13
25. Dan Arnold, Carolina Panthers, Bye Week 13