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McFarland: Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings and Tiers

Kansas City, MO, USA; Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) celebrates after scoring a touchdown against the Buffalo Bills during the third quarter in the AFC Championship Game at Arrowhead Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Denny Medley-USA TODAY Sports

Ranking players by position is integral to fantasy football preparation, but grouping them into tiers is crucial to identifying the value you might be leaving on the draft board.

For example, if you're on the clock and looking at several tight ends in the same tier, it could make sense to wait until the next round — someone equally as worthy will probably be available with your next pick.

Tiers can also help group players with similar expectations based on upside and floor. Most importantly, we don't want to pay more than the next drafter for a similar player.

There are seven primary criteria used to create tight end tiers:

  • Target pedigree: Recent adjusted target shares and targets per route run
  • Performance peripherals: Yards per route run, deep targets (20-plus yards), yards after the catch and explosive target rate (15-plus-yard receptions)
  • Offense quality: Projected team wins (winning teams typically score more and passing YPA correlates strongly to wins)
  • Passing volume: Projected team pass attempts per game (excludes overtime)
  • Quarterback quality: Team QB1 ADP (combined with passing volume to offset quarterbacks with a higher ADP due to rushing ability)
  • Target competition: Number of teammates with a significant ADP (wide receivers with a top-36 ADP plus tight ends with a top-12 ADP)
  • Player average draft position (ADP): Positional rank based on FFPC best ball slim data from Fantasy Mojo

The first two criteria focus on the player’s ability to generate and create production from targets, while the next four data points analyze the team environment. ADP is a final check against the current market sentiment to help us extract maximum value from our selections.

The ultimate options are receivers who demand targets at all field levels and make plays after the catch on winning pass-heavy teams. After that, every tier is some variation of strengths versus weaknesses in the profile.

For example, a talented tight end on a run-balanced offense with a high projected win total and low target competition is better than the same situation with multiple teammates challenging for opportunities. On the other hand, two talented pass-catching options can co-exist in a quality pass-happy attack.

The first table is a quick view of the complete tiers and rankings, and a more detailed heat map is included below as we break down each tier.

Last Updated: 2 p.m. May 26
Tier Rank FFPC Pos ADP UD Pos ADP Player Team
1A 1 1 1 Travis Kelce Chiefs
1A 2 2 2 Mark Andrews Ravens
1B 3 3 3 Kyle Pitts Falcons
1B 4 4 4 Darren Waller Raiders
1B 5 5 5 George Kittle 49ers
1C 6 6 6 Dalton Schultz Cowboys
1C 7 7 7 T.J. Hockenson Lions
1C 8 8 8 Dallas Goedert Eagles
1C 9 10 10 Zach Ertz Cardinals
1C 10 13 13 Rob Gronkowski Free Agent
1D 11 15 15 Albert Okwuegbunam Broncos
1D 12 11 11 Pat Freiermuth Steelers
2A 13 9 9 Dawson Knox Bills
2A 14 12 12 Mike Gesicki Dolphins
2A 15 16 16 Irv Smith Jr. Vikings
2A 16 14 17 Cole Kmet Bears
2A 17 18 21 Noah Fant Seahawks
2A 18 17 18 Hunter Henry Patriots
2B 19 23 20 David Njoku Browns
2B 20 19 19 Tyler Higbee Rams
2B 21 22 22 Gerald Everett Chargers
2B 22 21 14 Robert Tonyan Packers
2B 23 20 23 Logan Thomas Commanders
2C 24 27 25 Taysom Hill Saints
2C 25 28 29 Brevin Jordan Texans
2D 26 24 26 Evan Engram Jaguars
2D 27 26 27 Austin Hooper Titans
2D 28 25 24 Hayden Hurst Bengals
2D 29 29 32 Mo Alie-Cox Colts
2D 30 35 42 Adam Trautman Saints
2D 31 30 28 C.J. Uzomah Jets
2D 32 44 37 Ricky Seals-Jones Giants
3A 33 31 31 Trey McBride Cardinals
3A 34 40 39 O.J. Howard Bills

TIER 1 TIGHT ENDS

TIER 1A – PREMIUM TALENT AND TEAM ENVIRONMENT

Travis Kelce posted his sixth consecutive 1,000-plus yard season with 1,125 yards in addition to nine touchdowns and finished as the TE2 in 2021. Historically, he has been a cheat code, and he should remain the focal point of the Kansas City Chiefs‘ offense with Tyreek Hill now in Miami.

The 33-year-old saw his lowest target share (19%), TPRR (21%) and YPRR (1.84) figures since 2015. We have seen great tight ends continue to post strong fantasy finishes at later ages than running backs and receivers, but Kelce is at the point where we have to consider opportunity costs.

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