There are several viable strategies for drafting tight ends this year in leagues of all shapes and sizes. The first-tier TEs go somewhere in the second round and allow you to roster only one and make the position a strength all season. The Tier 2 tight ends cost a fourth- or fifth-round pick and allow you to establish running back or wide receiver as a position of strength. Drafting two TEs later in drafts offers the option to stream multiple options from a deep crop of tight ends with breakout potential.
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No matter which road you take, utilize the following tiers to help decide which tight ends to target and where — along with a few to avoid. For other positional tiers, check out my 2020 quarterback tiers, running back tiers and wide receiver tiers.
Tier 1 – The Elite
Kelce and Kittle are the consensus top two tight ends per ADP and PFF's consensus rankings. Our projections have them separated by only 10 points but 28 points above everybody else. They should both be drafted in the second round of drafts unless your league is TE premium — the only question is which one to prioritize.
Kelce has been the top-scoring TE in PPR leagues in each of the past four seasons — starting before he had Patrick Mahomes throwing to him. He plays in a Chiefs offense that threw 71.4% of the time in the first three quarters of games, the most in the NFL. This is a big advantage versus Kittle — the 49ers threw just 56.5% in the first three quarters, which was third-lowest. Kelce also has better quality passes coming his way from Mahomes compared to Jimmy Garopollo.
The argument for Kittle is that he’s been the better player. While Kelce has consistently graded between 87.0 and 91.0 in each of the past four years, Kittle blew that away with a 94.3 grade in 2019. Both their teams drafted players in the first round who could take a few targets away. The 49ers' recent addition of Jordan Reed means Kittle could take a few more snaps off this year to keep him well-rested. Kittle’s excellent 2019 season makes this a debate, but volume is king and better quarterback play certainly helps.
Tier 2 – High-Volume Pro Bowl Quality