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How to approach the tight end position in 2021 fantasy football drafts

Jan 24, 2021; Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) before the AFC Championship Game against the Buffalo Bills at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

The tight end position is notoriously difficult to navigate in fantasy football, as multiple strategies — ranging from early-round selections to streaming — are possible avenues. Some people prefer the stability and consistency of the high-end targets, while others prefer riskier options.

So, let's explore the positives and negatives three major strategies when addressing the tight end position in fantasy football leagues in 2021. In addition, we’ll share which players to target within each strategy.

All average draft position (ADP) info is sourced from Underdog Fantasy and Fantasy Data.


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Early-Round Plays

Having the stability of an early-round target is nice. Essentially, it’s a set-it-and-forget-it type of deployment. The only time an early-drafted tight end shouldn't be in the starting lineup is during their bye week. This strategy has four premium options, but there are three main targets. Let’s break down the best early-round options at the position.

Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs: TE1 (6.9 ADP)

This one doesn’t need much explaining. Kelce racked up an unprecedented 1,416 receiving yards last season in only 15 games. He has a massive stake in his offense, leading the way with an absurd 23.5% target share in 2020. Kelce also showed off his consistency with 13 top-five weekly finishes at the position.

The consistency is absurd, and that’s why Kelce is the TE1.

Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders: TE2 (22.5 ADP)

The discussion for the TE2 spot is interesting, but it's Waller's to lose; he led the position with 140 targets in 2020. He was the only tight end not named Kelce to top 1,000 receiving yards, as well.

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Waller is currently ranked the TE2, and not just for being the second-highest scoring player at the position last season (280.6 total fantasy points). It’s also because he ranked fourth in yards per route run (YPRR) with a 2.28 mark (min. 25 targets) and is clearly the Raiders' top receiving option. His floor is high, and his ceiling is gargantuan.

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