Before you go any further if you haven’t read the previous articles from this series, we recommend you do so. You can find some of those articles here:

Points Per Rush Attempt Analysis for 2021 Fantasy Football

Fantasy Points Per Reception – Running Back Edition Part 2

 Fantasy Points Per Reception – Wide Receiver Edition Part 2

In this article, we break down Fantasy Points Per Reception or FPPR regression candidates from 2020 at the tight end position. The goal of this article is to help you identify players who you should potentially fade at their ADP in 2021.

A couple of things you might want to know first. The league average FPPR for tight ends over the past 10 seasons is 1.93. For a tight end to see one point less per game they need to average three receptions per game and see an increase in FPPR of .35.


2021 FPPR Regression Candidates


Player: Travis Kelce

2020 FPPR: 2.48

Career avg. FPPR: 2.26

FPPR Variance: 10%


2020 PPG
2021 Projected PPG
17.3 15.8


Yes, Travis Kelce is the undisputed tight end one in fantasy. The question is, how high do we take him. According to NFC ADP Kelce continues to hold down the 8th pick overall. Last season’s 17.1 PPG justifies that ADP, but the question should be is it repeatable? Since 2011 only two other tight ends cracked 16 PPG in .5 PPR. That was Jimmy Graham at 16.3 in 2013 and Rob Gronkowski at 17.9 in 2011. The following season each player saw a drop in PPG by at least two points with Gronk dropping down to 15.7 and Graham slipping to 12.8. This is a lot more aggressive than the 1.5 PPG drop the FPPR analysis is calling for in 2021.

Even Kelce’s historical production with Patrick Mahomes suggests a regression. In his first season with Mahomes Kelce averaged 15.3 PPG. This came on the back of 150 targets. Flash forward Kelce was able to produce 17.3 PPG on just 145 targets. If we just break down Kelce’s fantasy points per target, in the previous 4 seasons he alternated between 1.5 and 1.6. In 2020 that jumped to 1.8. If we apply the previous four years of his fantasy points per target to his targets from 2020 his PPG would drop to 15.2. Overall, Kelce is still worth a pick at the 1/2 turn, but at 8 we think it is best to pass. 


Player: Jonnu Smith

2020 FPPR: 2.76

Career avg. FPPR: 2.44

FPPR Variance: 13%


2020 PPG
2021 Projected PPG
8.6 7.7


Jonnu Smith turned his career year into a hefty payday securing a four-year contract worth $50 million. Smith was clearly underutilized in Tennessee with his career year only amassing 41 receptions and 448 yards on 65 targets. The biggest driver for Smith’s career year was his touchdowns. Last season he generated nine total touchdowns on just 43 touches. This led to 48% of his fantasy points being from touchdowns alone. Prior to 2020, that number was 30% which means regression is coming.

It is hard to project much of an increase in targets in 2021 with Hunter Henry on board in New England as well. One of the biggest things stopping Smith from taking the next step was that Anthony Firkser was involved. Henry is clearly a bigger problem for Smith. Currently being drafted as the tight end 14, Smith will need to repeat a similar touchdown rate if he wants to flirt with top 10 value again. Call it a hunch but Smith’s ceiling in the Patriots offense doesn’t justify his ADP unless Mac Jones starts early and the overall pass volume skyrockets.


Player: Tyler Higbee

2020 FPPR: 2.37

Career avg. FPPR: 2.03

FPPR Variance: 17%


2020 PPG
2021 Projected PPG
6.9 5.9


Tyler Higbee is a popular bounce back candidate after the departure of Gerald Everett.  Now we know what you’re thinking “he’s going to talk about the back half of 2019 now” yes…yes we are. During that stretch, Higbee averaged 11 targets a game while producing 17.1 PPG. It is hard image him reaching those heights again, but a big boost in usage is in the cards. Last season when combining Everett and Higbee’s stat line it comes out 85-938-6 on 118 targets. That would have been good for the tight end three in fantasy last season.

In 2021 there is buzz circulating on young converted wide receiver Jacob Harris. A lot of people are stating that he could be the replacement for Everett and even push Higbee. It could be possible down the line but here is a recent quote from Sean McVay on Harris. McVay said. “I expect him to be a big contributor on special teams”. Now that we got that out of the way the next man on the depth chart is blocking tight end Johnny Mundt. When Everett missed time in 2019, Higbee out-targeted Mundt 56-5. If Higbee can push for a similar role and capitalized on most of Everett’s vacated production, he should be locked in as a top 10 tight end. 


Player: Mike Gesicki

2020 FPPR: 2.51

Career avg. FPPR: 2.04

FPPR Variance: 23%


2020 PPG
2021 Projected PPG
8.9 7.2


In the seven full games with Tua Tagolviloa last season Mike Gesicki was far and away the best pass catcher on the team. Gesicki’s 9.9 PPG with Tua way outpaced DeVante Parker at 6.9 PPG during that time. However, this was driven by two big games in weeks 13 and 14 scoring at least 19 PPG in both contests. Only two of the six games he played with Tua resulted in 8 PPG or more.  This is kind of a reflection of Gesicki’s 2020 season as a whole. His TE7 overall and 8th in PPG finishes were solid, but when you dive into his consistency, we start to see the full picture. Last year Gesicki only produced eight fantasy points in 40% of his contest. That tied him with Jordan Reed for 16th in 2020.

Heading into 2021 Gesicki’s competition for targets has gotten a lot harder with offseason acquisition Will Fuller and first round pick Jaylen Waddle now on board. This increase in competition could result in Gesicki seeing fewer targets per game in 2021. Currently being drafted as the TE12, it is fair to question if Gesicki will be consistent enough to justify his top 12 ADP. Based on the FPPR projected PPG we recommend fading him. 


Player: Irv Smith, Jr.

2020 FPPR: 2.72

Career avg. FPPR: 2.21

FPPR Variance: 23%


2020 PPG
2021 Projected PPG
6.8 5.5


A popular sleeper in 2021 is Minnesota’s 3rd-year tight end Irv Smith. Former starter Kyle Rudolph is now gone which should open the door for Smith to take on a bigger role. Earlier this offseason head coach Mike Zimmer stated Smith’s role will not change as Tyler Conklin would see a significant jump in usage. Before we jump ship let’s see how Smith’s role did change last season when Rudolph missed time due to injury.


  GP Snap % Targets Rec Yards TD PPG
W Rudolph 9 61.9% 2.9 1.9 22.8 0.3 4.7
W/O Rudolph 4 71.0% 5 3.8 45.8 0.8 11


Clearly, his role did change as Smith saw a spike in usage without Rudolph. In those four games, Smith saw four targets in the end zone vs. five in the previous nine games. The only caveat here is Smith had two games of 14 points or more and two games of 6 or less so his consistency will be driven mostly by TDs. Personally, we should view Irv Smith as the 2021 Jonnu Smith. Big Irv will split targets with another tight end, have a high red zone usage, but plays on a team with low volume resulting in lower receptions and yards each week. This will most likely cap Irv Smith as a top 9-12 TE on a PPG basis. 

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Sources: Razzball, Pro Football Focus, Pro Football Reference, FFToday, and Football Outsiders