.We are deep in the thick of it now. Week 12. There are really only three types of teams left. Teams cruising. Teams scrapping. And teams playing spoiler. All equally important in my eyes. Don’t be that guy who just gives up and changes the outcome of the league by not giving it your all. Grind out those wins and make your opponent pay. That’s what fantasy football is REALLY about at the end of the day. Pride.

We switched to linear rankings last week but, if you have deep benches or the rest of your team is awesome so you can afford to hold two tight ends, here is the full write-up on how the Yin & Yang 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 rest of us are going to focus on winning now and only planning for bye weeks. 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 potential injury issues

 Tight End
TierRest of Season
1Travis Kelce
Mark Andrews
2TJ Hockenson
George Kittle
3Pat Freiermuth
Dalton Schultz
Greg Dulcich
David Njoku
4Dallas Goedert
Evan Engram
Cole Kmet
Juwan Johnson
5Tyler Higbee
Logan Thomas
Trey McBride
Foster MoreauDarren Waller
6Dawson Knox
Gerald Everett
Hayden Hurst
Lawrence CagerDaniel Bellinger
Tyler Conklin
Mike Gesicki
Robert Tonyan
7Taysom Hill
8Cameron Brate
Noah Fant
Hunter Henry
Jonnu Smith
Jordan Akins
Austin Hooper
 Isaiah Likely
 Cade Otton
 Will Dissly
 Noah Gray

Tier 1: Mega Stars

  • Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews - Folks get mad that Kelce isn’t in his own tier. They also got mad when Mark Andrews was in a different tier for the weekly rankings (which are posted on my Twitter later on in the week). Here’s the reality - who cares? These are the best two tight ends in nearly every major usage category when healthy. You can picture Kelce on a little pedestal if you would like but you are starting both every week regardless. So let’s move on.

Tier 2: Locked In

  • T.J. Hockenson and George Kittle - You need three things for high-end fantasy production at tight end: talent, scheme, and opportunity. If Dallas Goedert wasn’t hurt right now, he would be in this group as well.

Tier 3: Feeling Alright

  • Pat Freiermuth - The Muth is about as close to that top group as you can get. But the one piece that’s hurting him is talent. Now, before you get the pitchfork out, I’m not talking about his talent. I’m talking about the quarterback play. Kenny Pickett COULD develop into a great player. But right now he’s not. He’s played seven games so far and has three touchdowns with eight picks. Gross. He’s thrown one touchdown pass over the last three games. The scheme and opportunity for Muth is great and he’s a talented player but an offense like that creates limitations.
  • Dalton Schultz - Also very close to that second-tier group but for him, the issue has been opportunity. Guys like Kelce, Andrews, Kittle, and Hockenson are playing 90%+ of the snaps here. Since returning from injury, Schultz has played 65%, 71%, 76%, and 64%. Again, a reliable weekly start but just not quite ideal.
  • Greg Dulcich - We love the profile and deployment for Dulcich. A converted WR running high aDot routes is what made us love Darren Waller the last few years. If Jerry Jeudy was done for the season, the stars would align for Dulcich as he’d seemingly be a locked-in top-two target on the team. But Jeudy avoided major injury and there is a chance he comes back when it matters most. Dulcich is still a great option week to week, especially for the time being.
  • David Njoku - Njoku was steamrolling before he got hurt. But he’s clearly still being ramped back up as Harrison Bryant played more snaps than him. The only concern beyond that is who Deshaun Watson is going to like. Njoku was the second target on the team behind Amari Cooper. But Watson could prefer feeding guys downfield like Donovan Peoples-Jones. On the flip side, an upgrade to a stud like Watson could take Njoku to heights he’s never seen. The uncertainty has him here for now but the upside is exciting.

Tier 4: Upside Is There

  • Dallas Goedert - He’s hurt. It’s as simple as that. If you have an IR spot, automatic move. He’s supposed to be coming back so I’m using a bench spot on him if I can afford it. But you can’t really rank guys in the top tiers if they are guaranteed out multiple weeks.
  • Evan Engram - The bye week came at the right time as Engram was dealing with a lingering back issue. In any sort of PPR, Engram is a decent option. He has an athletic profile. He runs the routes. He has five games of 6+ targets. He’s even gotten decent end-zone targets though he’s only capitalized on one. He may not be the most amazing option but, with injuries to guys like Dallas Goedert, Zach Ertz, Kyle Pitts, Darren Waller, etc., you should be happy to have him.
  • Cole Kmet - There are a lot of folks who will be upset with the Cole Kmet performance this week but I’m quietly pleased. And here’s why. We know from our Tight End Bible that blocking on more than 15% of your pass plays is a silent tight end killer. Despite the touchdowns, Kmet blocked on 25% and 19.5% of his pass plays in Weeks 8 and 9. That is scary. Over the last two weeks though, those numbers came down to 12.5% and 6%. That along with his recent production boost and his status as the de facto number two target behind Darnell Mooney is pretty solid. Now we just need to pray that the quarterback situation is viable down the stretch.
  • Juwan Johnson - There’s a little too much target competition with Chris Olave, Jarvis Landry, and Alvin Kamara. We don’t love guys like Adam Trautman and Tayson Hill playing tight-end snaps. And we’d love for Juwan Johnson to run more routes (he is the converted WR we look for, after all). But it’s hard to argue with results and he’s been a reliable red zone target. So he’s ahead of a lot of other guys despite all that.

Tier 5: Yikes

  • Tyler Higbee - If you took another player and swapped him with Tyler Higbee, we’d have him higher. Juwan Johnson, perhaps. Because there is a lot of opportunity there with Cooper Kupp out. But Tyler Higbee is not particularly fast and he runs insanely low aDot routes (3.6-yard aDot is not even in the top 90 tight ends). And that makes him fairly boring because, without speed and without aDot, the yardage totals will remain pretty consistently low. That makes him a much better full PPR option than half or standard.
  • Logan Thomas - Somewhere in there is a converted quarterback who is capable of playing every snap, running every route, soaking up a decent target share, and converting a ton of first downs. I know it because I’ve seen it. With Ron Rivera, on this team. We got a glimpse of that this week with five catches on six targets. He’s fully healthy so we could see it again down the stretch…
  • Trey McBride - Trey McBride is not Zach Ertz. at least not at this stage of his career. But he’s doing Ertz’s job. And that job can be lucrative for fantasy football. The concerns for McBride, of course, are the same as they were for Ertz. Eventually, DeAndre Hopkins and Marquise Brown will both be on the field at the same time. If the QB is Colt McCoy when that happens, that would be even worse. So McBride is a pretty scary option.

Tier 6: Resounding “Meh”

  • Dawson Knox - Stefon Diggs is the man in Buffalo. That much is clear. That leaves Dawson Knox and Gabriel Davis to fight for that second target share. This week Knox got his piece but we’ve seen what it looks like when it goes the other way and that can leave Knox as a tight-end dependent option. That with Josh Allen clearly not being 100% takes a lot of the excitement out of Knox as an option.
  • Foster Moreau / Darren Waller - I’ve said this time and time again - no matter how much we want him to be, Foster Moreau is not Darren Waller. Darren Waller this year hasn’t even been Darren Waller. Foster Moreau has never cracked 67 yards in any game ever. So sure, he plays a lot of snaps when Waller is out. But he’s still a desperation play.
  • Gerald Everett - Gerald Everett is hurt and, even when healthy, he only cracked 70% of the snaps one time. And, when it matters most down the stretch, Keenan Allen and Mike Williams should be playing.
  • Hayden Hurst - Hayden Hurst is a fine plug-in for as long as Ja’Marr Chase is out. But he’s the fourth-best pass catcher on this team at best when everyone is healthy. That’s a scary place to be. In the playoffs, you need to string multiple weeks together to win so you can’t afford to trust guys that might disappear on you.
  • Lawrence Cager/Daniel Bellinger - If Bellinger is a full go when he’s back from the eye injury, he could climb the list. The Giants wide receiver situation has been a mess all season and now Wan’Dale Robinson is hurt. Cager came out and actually ran 38 routes which was second on the Giants behind only Darius Slayton (45) but it’s so hard to trust a guy like that in a real league. DFS is where Cager belongs if Bellinger is out.
  • Tyler Conklin - This one is a bit of a double talent lack, in our opinion. Tyler Conklin has played 74 games in the NFL and has four broken tackles. Not exactly the most elusive. And the guy attempting to get him the ball has been rough, to say the least. If Zach Wilson gets benched for Joe Flacco, we’d be tempted to move Conk Daddy up. But for now he lives here.
  • Mike Gesicki and Robert Tonyan - Neither of these dudes play the whole game. Crushes your ceiling.

Tier 7: Taysom Hill

Taysom Hill - In case of emergency, break the glass. We all know how good it can be. And how bad it can be.

Tier 8: Players That I’m Not Starting In Any Of My Leagues But You Can Start In Yours

See title.

Tight End Handcuffs

  • Isaiah Likely, Cade Otton, and Noah Gray become viable options IMMEDIATELY if something were to happen to the starter. Same with Dissly or Fant if there other was to go down and the snaps were consolidated. But I’d like to see at least a week of it first before starting them.

Weekly Rankings

Follow Andrew Cooper on Twitter @CoopAFiasco to see the weekly rankings once they are available later this week!


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