If you are reading this, congratulations. You’re either still alive (and possibly in the championship). Or you are a student of the game who continues to want to learn and grow even if you are eliminated. Either way, you’re a winner in my book. So let’s wrap this season up the right way in the tight end world and set ourselves up for another big week. The focus of these rankings will be on this week, Week 17, as that’s when most championships are. But we know that some leagues have different rules with guillotine leagues or two week playoffs or even simply having the championship be the final week. So we’ll be back next week as well for one last time. Not going to leave anyone behind now!

Ranking defenses vs. tight ends is not an exact science. The issue is that it doesn’t always work like wide receiver where many times the top corners face the top wide receivers and that’s that. Or running back where teams are simply “good” vs. the run or not. The game plan and personnel can fluctuate making to pinpoint. So our final decision-making isn’t going to only be made based on schedule. What I have done however is use things like points again, DVOA, player grades, available personnel etc. give a basic idea of what matchups are favorable or not to help you mix and match at the position where need be. So the color-coding here is not the end all be all but it should help.


As a reminder, these rankings are Rest of Season. These are the players you want to roster and pair. On Thursday, I will tweet my weekly rankings. So follow me on Twitter here so you don’t miss those!

Travis KelceCINLAC
Trey McBridePHISEA
George KittleWASLAR
Evan EngramCARTEN
David NjokuNYJCIN
Isaiah LikelyMIAPIT
Jake FergusonDETWAS
Dallas GoedertARINYG
Darren WallerLARPHI
Tucker KraftMINCHI
Kyle PittsCHINO
Dalton SchultzTENIND
Dalton KincaidNEMIA
Chigoziem OkonkwoHOUJAX
Cole KmetATLGB
Gerald EverettDENKC
Taysom Hill--
Cade OttonNOCAR
Pat FreiermuthSEABAL
Hunter HenryBUFNYJ
Tyler ConklinCLENE
Logan ThomasSFDAL
Tanner HudsonKCCLE
Tyler HigbeeNYGSF
Michael MayerINDDEN

Fantasy Football Championship Week

Travis KelceThings haven’t been ideal in Kansas City. But, to be honest, last week was brutal in general in the tight end world. Some folks said Travis Kelce shouldn’t have been at one in the rankings but who should have been? He outscored Sam LaPorta and Trey McBride. And he scored about the same as T.J. Hockenson (who is now unfortunately done for the season with a knee injury). If you made it this far with Travis Kelce in your lineup, he faces arguably the easiest matchup possible for a tight end in the Cincinnati Bengals. We can debate about dynasty rankings or paying up for him in DFS but, for this week, he is the TE1. 

Trey McBrideIt’s very close at the top. But McBride gets the nod over others because of his usage and his plus matchup. Since Zach Ertz got hurt, no tight end has had a higher target share than McBride. And, even though the Eagles made a move for Kevin Byard, they are still banged up in the secondary and are a plus matchup. McBride has had five or more receptions in six straight weeks so we can’t go away from him now, especially in PPR. 

George KittleGeorge Kittle is a great player. No one is debating that. It would simply be a lot easier on us if the 49ers didn’t have so many great weapons. But Kittle has a unique combination of size and speed that allows him to both break off big chunk plays and find the end zone. Much like Rob Gronkowski, he’s a true two way unicorn that can do more with less in terms of targets. If McBride is the TE2 in PPR, Kittle might be the TE2 in standard. But they are both great options in any league and he’s got a nice matchup against Washington. 

Sam LaPortaHere’s where I’m at - I’m starting Sam LaPorta. But there is a concerning trend the last two games here with our star rookie. And that is pass blocking. From time to time he’s been asked to pass block on a couple pass playing but, at most, it’s been three of four. We can live with that. Over the last two games he has been asked to pas blocked on seven and eight pass plays. That’s nearly 20% in each game. That’s a killer. We want him running routes. It might not hold but it’s enough to rank others ahead. This next guy might be ranked ahead come Sunday depending on the status of his QB. 

Evan EngramEvan Engram has been incredibly consistent. He’s gotten five or more targets in literally every game this season. Over the last four games, while Christian Kirk has been out, Evan Engram is tied for the most receptions of any player out of the slot. With CEEDEE LAMB. Yes, his 20 receptions out of the slot over that span are more than Cooper Kupp and Amon-Ra St. Brown. It’s not a great matchup but Engram needs to be in lineups in Trevor Lawrence plays. And probably if C.J. Beathard plays too. 

David Njoku - This is the hardest part about fantasy. We have a good player here who has been on a ROLL. And then his matchup for fantasy championship is rough. Folks will look at the points scored by tight ends against the Jets and say it’s not so bad. But we really have to look at who is scoring those points. And when you factor out random TDs for backups like Pharaoh Brown, Luke Schoonmaker, and Noah Gray, the Jets have been very good against TE1s. In fact, according to our friends at FTN Fantasy, they are actually the third best team in DVOA against the position. I’m still starting him in a league where I have him because he’s ranked TE6 here and Flacco loves him. But conditions could be better, that’s all. If he were facing the Bengals or Broncos or someone, he might be ranked as high as TE2. That’s just the way the chips fall sometimes.

Isaiah LikelyUp until this point in the rankings we essentially have great players with good matchups, great players with okay matchups, great players with bad matchups. It doesn’t always work like that but this week it does. This next group is close but I like Isaiah Likely as a good player with a good quarterback in a good matchup. Since Mark Andrews got hurt, Likely has essentially served as the WR2 behind Zay Flowers - Flowers has led in routes in every game and Likely has been second. This matchup with Miami last year went to an absolute shootout with 86 points scored. Now, we aren’t just going to bank on that here but it does have one of the highest over/unders on the slate and the Dolphins are a plus matchup for tight ends. 

Jake FergusonIn this range, you need to decide how risk averse you are. A guy like Isaiah Likely does carry some risk but he’s got a high ceiling. Jake Ferguson falls into the more conservative category. CeeDee Lamb is a mega star and, if anyone is going to have a blowup game, it’s him. But Ferguson has gotten eight targets in four straight games and is always a threat in the red area so he’s about as safe as it gets. You don’t always need your tight end to get 15 targets to win a matchup and, the way the position has been, safety goes a long way. 

Dallas GoedertGoedert falls into that same category as Ferguson though many are surprised to find the Goedert isn’t a big TD threat. In fact, over the last three years combined, Goedert has only six end zone targets. Ferguson has nine this season alone. The success of the Tush Push really takes away some of that need for the end zone throws to the big guy. So Goedert is a fine option - especially in PPR against the Cardinals. And anyone is capable of two TDs in any given week. But some folks just have better odds of it happening. 

Darren WallerAnd here is a completely different flavor. High risk, high reward. Since returning, he has yet to play a full snap share. He played in 42% the first week and 63% this week. And the team is a bit of a mess. But here’s the thing. He did get five and six targets in those games. He could be back up to full speed. He could have Tyrod Taylor at QB, who loved him early on. And he gets the Los Angeles Rams who are one of the worst teams against the tight end. So the narrative is there for this to go either way. It’s a risk but there is room for big things. 

Tucker Kraft - Since Luke Musgrave was injured, Tucker Kraft has been the starting tight end playing a ton of snaps. And regardless of whether it’s a good or bad matchup, he’s fairly consistently involved. This is a middle of the pack matchup so not a bad spot again. And, depending on which wide receivers are healthy or not, he could be higher in the weekly rankings come Thursday. Or, if Luke Musgrave is activated, he could be unstartable. I would plan on having a second tight end on the roster to be absolutely sure. 

Kyle PittsIt’s been a trying year for Kyle Pitts. But this have certainly gotten a lot better down the stretch here. If you forget about the Carolina game which was a literal wash in a crazy rainstorm, Pitts has run 90% of the routes in his last three games on dry land. That’s a far cry from the 50% earlier this year. And now Taylor Heinicke is running the show creating a new world of upside. Plus he’s scored in two of this last three games which has been his biggest issue. Starting Falcons is always risky but Pitts with his athleticism will always intrigue us.

Dalton SchultzC.J. Stroud will HOPEFULLY be back. And, hopefully for Schultz’s sake, guys on the Titans defense Jeffrey Simmons will remain out. It’s not a great matchup for Schultz but any means but he played them the week before last and had four catches on five targets for 58 which is fine. And that’s really what Dalton Schultz is. Just fine. If you were someone who lost Mark Andrews or T.J. Hockenson, you’ll take just fine. 

Dalton KincaidIt’s shame how this one panned out. He was crushing for fantasy with no Dawson Knox. And, in the first game back for Knox, he played a ton of snaps and got eight targets. But he hurt his thumb and his back. Since then he hasn’t logged a full practice and he’s yet to play more than 50% of the snaps as they limit his workload. Now he faces a tough matchup in the New England Patriots so it’s just incredibly risky to start him. And without much reward. 

Chigoziem OkonkwoIn recent weeks the usage for Chigoziem Okonkwo has been trending up. He’s not a full time player and doesn’t run every route but no one in this range does. What he does do is get a couple plays schemed up for him each week and this past week he had his best game yet with six catches for 63 yards and a touchdown. Ryan Tannehill will hopefully start again with Will Levis dealing with a high ankle sprain which makes Chig an interesting waiver add against a solid matchup with the Texans.   

Cole KmetKmet would be higher but he left the game this week with a knee injury. So you absolutely need to make other plans. Maybe he will be a full go and we’ll move him up a bit in the weekly rankings. But he hasn’t exactly been lighting the world on fire either way. So for right now I’d plan to start someone else but keep Kmet stashed in case it turns out he’s fine. 

Gerald EverettGerald Everett actually played 70% of the snaps this past week which shouldn’t seem like that big of a feat with all the wide receiver injuries but it is for him. Because he’s never played 80% of the snaps for the Chargers and this is only his fourth time cracking 70% since he joined the team last year. He has a good matchup vs. Denver so not a bad play but his ceiling is capped by the tight end rotation. I’d really only consider him if Donald Parham is out again like he has been the last couple of weeks.

Hunter Henry - Relying on touchdowns is not something we like to do. We like to factor ability vs. man to man and red zone prowess into the equation, sure. But we didn’t love Henry coming off a two TD game in which he only saw three targets. He saw nine this past week but we have to ask ourvelves if that is the new normal or just a one week outlier. He could have had two TDs again if it wasn’t for a penalty. And he gets the Broncos this week which are a great TE matchup. For a one week play I don’t mind it but just be warned. 

Taysom HillI can’t imagine there are teams with Taysom Hill that A. haven’t been eliminated and B. are willing to start him after back-to-back faceplants. But I’m sure they are out there. 

Cade OttonCade Otton plays a ton of snaps but he really has not been drawing targets lately. It’s starting to feel like the multiple injuries Chris Godwin was dealing with (neck/knee) where leading to more targets for Otton and, now that he’s healthy, Otton is on the backburner. 

Pat FreiermuthPat Freiermuth played this week, believe it or not. With Kenny Pickett earlier against the Bengals he had nine catches for 120 yards. With Mason Rudolph he had zero catches. Can’t possibly start him unless Pickett is back.

Hunter HenryHenry was really starting to heat up. So of course he suffers a knee injury. Going to be hard to trust him in the first game back even if he plays. 

Tyler ConklinThis is a part time player in a bad offense with a bad QB in a bad matchup. What could possibly go wrong?

Logan ThomasLogan Thomas has been so hit or miss as of late that we can’t use him in championships despite the good week last week. Not against the 49ers. 

Tanner HudsonWe had warned about this. A guy who runs 10-20 routes a week max has a scary floor. We just saw that floor this past week. KC is not a good matchup either. 

Tyler HigbeeWe didn’t trust him before and now Davis Allen mixes in so he’s not running a full complement of routes.

Michael MayerHe’s just a dynasty stash at this point.