Tight ends have become the most interesting position in 2021 fantasy football drafts. Exactly half of fantasy managers in any 12-team league will leave a fantasy draft happy with their tight end, while the other half can only hope everything works out.
The elite tight ends have separated themselves from the pack in recent years, making it more important than ever to draft a tight end early. The overall TE1 has scored more than double the fantasy points of the TE12 in two of the last three seasons.
This discrepancy is compounded by the fact that it's easy to predict who the elite fantasy tight ends will be. Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, George Kittle and Mark Andrews were all top-five in fantasy points in 2019. They claimed each of the top four spots in fantasy points per game in 2020. There is little doubt they belong in the top five heading into 2021.
The following are my top 50 tight ends, broken into tiers to best prepare for fantasy drafts of all shapes and sizes. Average draft position is taken from 12-team Best Ball 10s over the last month. Only players who were selected in at least half of those drafts have an ADP listed.
Last Updated: July 7, 2021
Kelce is in a league of his own at tight end. He has been No. 1 at his position in fantasy points for five consecutive seasons, with no signs of slowing down. He deserves to be recognized as the one unparalleled player in fantasy football.
If Kelce were classified as a wide receiver, he would be among the top tier at that position, too. He ranks second in receiving yards over the last three seasons among all NFL players. Only one other tight end ranks in the top 30 in that time. Kelce has racked up 110 explosive plays since the start of 2018, which also ranks second-most, and he could raise that significantly this season.
Kansas City spent the offseason re-tooling its offensive line with three free agent signings, a blockbuster trade and two draft picks. Patrick Mahomes‘ passer rating was 78.5 under pressure last season and 121.1 without pressure. Mahomes should be spending less time running from defenders in 2021 and more time throwing missiles to Kelce.
The top tier of running backs should still be picked in the beginning of the first round in typical fantasy leagues, but Kelce should be the next player off the board.