The reality of football is that it’s a very small sample size sport. Even though we are almost halfway through the season, there’s only been 8 games. You get more than that in two weeks of baseball. That’s why it’s so important to ignore the box scores and rely on the underlying stats like routes per dropback and average depth of target. That’s the best way to stay ahead of the game rather than chasing touchdowns like Bob from the accounting department. 




As a reminder, here is the full write-up on how this strategy works. The short and sweet is that, if you don’t have an elite tight end, you should roster two: the safest possible play (Yin) to start each week and the highest upside bench stash (Yang) to see if we can catch lightning in a bottle. The rankings themselves are based on years of research we have done on the position which is all compiled into this one article on What Makes An Elite Tight End.

*Orange players have potentially injury issues

Tight End
Travis Kelce
Mark Andrews
George Kittle
Dallas Goedert
David Njoku
TJ HockensonKyle Pitts
Zach ErtzEvan Engram
Pat FreiermuthDarren Waller
Tyler HigbeeGreg Dulcich
Gerald EverettTaysom Hill
Dalton SchultzLogan Thomas
Robert TonyanJuwan Johnson
Hayden HurstTyler Conklin
The Rest
Cole Kmet
Hunter Henry
Dawson Knox
Daniel Bellinger
Irv Smith
Noah Fant
Cameron Brate
Brevin Jordan
Kylen Granson
Isaiah Likely
Cade Otton
Harrison Bryant
Tanner Hudson



  • Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews - These are the only two players that are really hitting every metric right now (when healthy). They lead their team in targets, run nearly every route, line up at WR a ton. Doesn’t get much better.
  • George Kittle - If you have been following along with this series, you aren’t surprised that Kittle is producing. His usage never really changed, even with Trent Williams out. Plus, Trent Williams is back anyway.
  • Dallas Goedert - If one of AJ Brown or DeVonta Smith were to get hurt, Goedert might even be at the Andrews/Kelce level. But for now he’s the third target and he’s running fairly low aDot routes so he’s a safe albeit a bit boring option.
  • David Njoku - It’s a shame that he got hurt because Njoku was poised for a big breakout. He’s one of the rare tight ends that actually was a top-two target on his team even without injuries. 


Safe Plays (YIN)

UPDATE – TJ Hockenson Has Been Traded to the Minnesota Vikings – Full Breakdown Here

  • Pat Freiermuth - The Muth has been rock solid and he’s one of the rare guys from this section that is doing it without injuries. Technically, Chase Claypool has the second-most targets behind Diontae Johnson but Muth did miss a game so he’s right in that mix. He’s close to getting moved up to the Standalone group. If the Chase Claypool trade rumors came to fruition, that would happen immediately. 

Edit - guess those Chase Claypool rumors were legit as he was traded to the Chicago Bears. Now it’s Muth vs. George Pickens for that second target spot.

  • Tyler Higbee - In past years, there has been one major issue for this player. Pass blocking. He’s had seasons where they asked him to stay in and block on 35% of the snaps. To start the year he wasn’t doing that but, with injuries to the line, that has reared its ugly head. In the game before the bye he blocked on 6 pass plays and this week he blocked on 9. The team had 38 drop backs and he only ran 15 routes. That is bad for fantasy football. Combine that with his lack of athleticism and low aDot and he’s all of a sudden not that great of an option.
  • Dalton Schultz - Promising week from Schultz but the two issues remain the same. He faces target competition from CeeDee Lamb/Michael Gallup and he has a banged up knee. The PCL is the same injury Ezekiel Elliott dealt with last year and he’s already exited three games early because of it.
  • Robert Tonyan -  Lack of snaps and lack of elite athleticism. That’s what holds back Tonyan. If we just had the snaps, we could move him up. But he’s not running all the routes. Only 24 on 37 dropbacks this week.
  • Hayden Hurst - As long as Ja’Marr Chase is out, he’s a viable option. But when everyone is healthy he’s the fourth of fifth target on this team.




Upside Plays (Yang)

  • Kyle Pitts - There is only one issue for this player and it’s not even his fault. Pass volume. He has the second highest target share of any tight end, he lines up at WR, he runs high aDot routes. They just don’t throw enough. And that is scary. But the upside is there.
  • Evan Engram - We don’t really even care about the touchdown (or that he should have had two but the Broncos defender just grabbed him and took the penalty). Over the last four games, he has 10, 6, 7, and 6 targets. That’s what we care about.
  • Darren WallerDarren Waller is Darren Waller. Elite size/speed specimen that we’ve seen go OFF many times. Right now he’s hurt and he’s facing more target competition than ever, so he can’t be in the elite tier. But he has elite upside.
  • Greg Dulcich -  This is why we like converted wide receivers. Athleticism is good, metrics are good. If Jerry Jeudy were to be traded like the rumors suggest, he would jump up the list.
  • Taysom Hill - He’s not actually a tight end so we can’t really analyze him compared to the other tight ends. So the choice to start him or not is entirely yours. Ceiling is crazy high and we all understand what the floor is, especially in PPR.
  • Logan ThomasLogan Thomas is back and we are back to playing the game we’ve played all season. Stash him to see if he can get back to being Logan Thomas.
  • Juwan Johnson - As long as Jarvis Landry and Michael Thomas are banged up, he’s a viable option. He's a converted WR who plays a bunch of WR snaps. Jameis Winston likes him best, but Andy Dalton isn’t likely to get benched right now.
  • Tyler Conklin - Quite the confusing player as sometimes he gets elite deployment and sometimes he plays fewer snaps than CJ Uzomah. This week it was elite. As long as Corey Davis is out and Elijah Moore is being a big crybaby, he could be a top-two target on the team


Tight End Handcuffs and The Rest

  • Cole Kmet - He plays the snaps, runs the routes, and is in the mix to be a top two target on the team. Justin Fields is finally heating up a little so we have to keep our eye on him.
  • Hunter Henry and Dawson Knox - Highly touchdown dependent options - best utilized in standard, best ball, or DFS.
  • Cade Otton and Isaiah Likely - Whenever the starter is out, these guys are viable. Simple as that.
  • Tanner Hudson - Outside of the one week when Hudson was sick, he actually has run more routes than Bellinger outright. He’s the reason we were hesitant to move Bellinger up. Now that Bellinger is hurt, he’s a sneaky play.
  • Harrison BryantOuch. He played the full game with Njoku out but it’s going to be tough to trust him after throwing down a zero. He’s also on bye so drop him if you must.


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