Scoring target series
QB | RB1 / RB2 | RB3 / RB4 | WR1 / WR2 | WR3 / WR4 | TO | FLEX | K / DST
The tight end position is where a fantasy owner can gain a significant advantage over their opponents, especially if they land the tight end that produces impact stats in the playoff championship rounds in the high-stakes market. Last year, Fantasy owners saw two elite options – Travis Kelce and Darren Waller – delivering hitting seasons. They beat from second to sixth tight ends in the rankings by more than 100 fantasy points in the PPR leagues.
Top 12 Adjusted Final Point Totals (2017-2020)
Tight ends 1 to 12
In 2020, the top 12 tight ends averaged 67 receptions for 758 yards and 6.7 touchdowns or 182.84 fantasy points in the PPR leagues. The best TE picks in 2017 (173.18 fantasy points) had the lowest result in the last nine seasons. Last year’s tight end score fell in line with the rebound in play of 2018 (187.88 fantasy points) and 2019 (18.04 fantasy points).
The score gap from TE1 to TE12 tends to be large, leading the best tight end owners to have a 100-point lead over TE9 to TE12 in most seasons. Last year that gap was even more pronounced, as Travis Kelce outscored TE7 by more than 154.5 fantasy points in the PPR leagues and TE12 by 168.5 fantasy points.
Travis Kelce remains the best tight end in 2021 thanks to playing explosive offense and working almost like a WR1 for the Chiefs. Darren Waller played well the past two seasons, leading him up the draft boards. George Kittle fell short of expectations last year due to injury while still another leading player.
The mid-range tight end options this draft season has one player (Mark Andrews – 66 ADP) with success the last two seasons (64/852/10 and 58/701/7). It seems to be a value at the same time that it fits the average goal number that a fantasy owner should be looking for if he lacks a top-tier tight end. Andrews brings scoring ability, with a low-end WR1 feel to the Ravens offense. His risk comes from Baltimore running the ball a lot, leading to a lot of games with short pass attempts.
A fantasy owner must use his baseline when deciding to push another tight end up. Kyle Pitts pulls the sexy card as the fourth tight end drafted with an ADP of 55. In essence, he has to get through a 60/750/7 season to guarantee his price.
TJ Hockenson, Dallas Goedert and Noah Fant have the pedigree and talent to advance higher in the tight ends standings. However, every player has some questions about their potential opportunity.
If a fantasy owner decides to cheat on the tight end, chances are his bets will fall on Logan Thomas and Robert Tonyan, building on their growth in 2020.
Tight Ends 13 to 24 total points (2017-2020)
Tight ends 13 to 24
Almost all fantasy leagues don’t use a second tight end in their starting lineup. Last year, the second 12 tight ends averaged 44 receptions for 496 yards and 4.4 touchdowns or 122.53 fantasy points in the PPR full-point leagues.
Realistically, there may only be 15 tight ends that have value in most seasons. Anyone waiting at tight end could be digging a sizable hole, as some teams will double down on tight end in order to play with that player in the flex position.
In 2019, tight ends ranked 13-24 are averaging just 6.65 fantasy points per game in PPR leagues.
The decision of when to select your first tight end comes down to how you structure your team. If you wait in position, you hope to find a player on the rise who can deliver 180-200 fantasy points. If you miss this player, you may end up initiating an option that falls into the back half of the second group of tight ends, which would likely generate eight to nine fantasy points per week. If you compare that player to the top six options in 2020, a fantasy owner will lose at this position six to ten fantasy points per week if the best players have elite seasons.
The average RB3 averaged around 151.06 fantasy points last year, and the average WR4 scored 164.23 fantasy points. The goal of every fantasy owner would be to find a player who surpasses the average scores at each position in their starting lineup. The target number for the first flexible position is 10.49 fantasy points per week or 167.78 fantasy points based on 2020, so it is imperative to know where the dips are in each position. You should also have a good idea of comparable values in the other spaces of your starting lineup to help make better decisions during the draft.
In every draft season, the best players don’t always win, and many players don’t repeat the success of the previous year. Depending on your scoring system, it’s nice to have a second tight end that has advantages, and that player can become a viable option in the flex position at times.
By reviewing each position, you will see the average scores of the players, and this will help you when making some decisions at the draft table. Everything is subject to opinion, and many writers weigh the choices heavily in the statistics of the previous season. Fantasy owners must separate themselves from what happened in the past when making decisions about future outcomes. Many players have created resumes to help identify where the strongest pieces of the puzzle are. To win in fantasy football, you must have a successful draft, as well as stay healthy all season. It’s tough to dominate your league for the first two-thirds of the season and then have enough in the tank to finish strong during the final weeks of the season where championships are determined.
Each draft is about team structure and how to get a head start. Some draft slots are much more difficult to succeed, depending on their format. In my years of tracking high stakes events, there has been a common theme across many championship teams in general. Almost all of the overall winners have had one of the best tight ends in the league.
I wrote an article a couple of years ago about this, and I think Tony Gonzalez was on the highest-earning teams overall. Jason Witten and Antonio Gates were part of a couple of other winning lists. Jordan Reed was the winning tight end in 2015. Darren Waller ended up being the difference-maker at tight end in late 2020, while Travis Kelce created an advantage over the past five years.
If you play in independent leagues, you can win without having a tight end because those league titles are generally determined by head-to-head matches. The tight end position is disrespected in many formats. By creating an advantage in this position, you increase your chances of winning as long as you get the other positions of the starting lineup correctly.
The first cut of the 2021 NFL rankings and projections should give an idea of the potential values and goals of this draft season.
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Senior analyst Shawn Childs is a high-stakes, multi-sport fantasy legend with six-figure lifetime earnings. He has been providing in-depth analytical breakdowns for years while helping his subscribers to rake in countless titles and earnings throughout the season and DFS. Shawn, an inaugural member of the NFBC Hall of Fame, can teach you how to prepare like a champion.
Eddie is an Australian news reporter with over 9 years in the industry and has published on Forbes and tech crunch.