Quarantine Day 27:
Hey all you cool cats and kittens. Did you see the story about the tiger at the Bronx Zoo that tested positive for coronavirus? Very sad. I blame Carole Baskin. Not just for the infection of this poor feline, but for the entire COVID debacle. Speaking of which, the CDC just released some new guidelines and in order to receive a COVID-19 test in the United States you must now meet at least one of these requirements:
b) Professional athlete (Major League Soccer doesn’t count)
c) Movie star (Porn does count)
d) Valued tiger at the zoo
And if you check all four boxes the CDC even throws in a free roll of TP. So far only one man has cashed in on that free roll of one-ply: my preferred 2020 presidential candidate, Darren Waller. Anyway, here’s my top 15 dynasty tight ends for 2020 PPR fantasy football:
1. George Kittle – The combination of youth and a two year elite track record had me wanting to put Kittle in a tier of his own. But he came into the league at age 24 and turns 27 this season, so not quite as youthful as he seems. The gap between Kittle and Kelce is smaller than the space between Michael Strahan’s two front teeth. So not at all small in tooth gap terms. But smaller in tight end ranking terms.
2. Travis Kelce – In redraft leagues Kelce is my top tight end. The K.C. offensive scheme is great, he has the best QB in the game dishing it out and an impressive track record of health having missed zero games over the past six seasons. Alas, the big boy turns 31 this year and he’s only guaranteed two more seasons with his Mahomie.
3. Darren Waller – Originally I had the Tiger King down at #6 on this list, mainly because he’ll turn 28 this year. Then I wrote my rambling intro and realized I can’t run from my love for Waller. He was the #3 PPR tight end last year and only reached the end zone thrice. Expect at least a couple more trips to the promised land in 2020; Waller’s role and usage is secure in the Gruden O.
4. Mark Andrews – Mandrews and LJax have a love connection like Joe Exotic and his fourth husband. He’s only 24 years old and just posted a 10 touchdown season. There’s an argument for Andrews as high as #2 on this list depending on what your contention window looks like.
5. Austin Hooper – Baker is now serving the cake to Hooper in Cleveland. Remember Hooper was the top fantasy tight end last year prior to his week 10 knee injury, so the upside is obvious. Pay close attention to his early usage in the Browns offense. The soon to be 26 year old could quickly rise up this list.
6. Zach Ertz – Part of me wanted to move Ertz down into the next tier but, like Joe Exotic with Carole Baskin, I couldn’t quite pull the trigger. Dallas Goedert will continue to become more and more of a pest for Ertz’s fantasy owners, and I wouldn’t be surprised if Goedert overtakes Ertz as Wentz’s #1 option in the next year or so.
7. Hunter Henry – Philly Rivers’ departure adds a little uncertainty to Henry’s short term outlook but if Tyrod’s the guy he’ll utilize the big man plenty. 2021 free agency looms for Henry as well—likely a positive. If not for injuries, the 25 year old would likely be in that top tier with Kittle and Kelce. Don’t fade the talent.
8. Evan Engram – Like Hunter Henry, Engram might be in the top tier if not for his extensive early career injury struggles. The injury history of the rest of these big men is a true testament to the value of Kelce. As for Engram, he already flashed top tier fantasy upside in his rookie season and Daniel Jones showed well in his first year as well. Look for the youngsters to build a strong connection in 2020, health permitting.
9. Rob Gronkowski – UPDATE 4/22/20: Gronk comes out of retirement to reunited with Brady in Tampa. Gronk battled nagging injuries from 2016-2018 missing 13 games over his final three seasons prior to his early-retirement. He also looked quite slimmed down during his 2019 public appearances. But does anyone really want to bet against the Gronkman?
10. T.J. Hockenson – The highly touted rookie burst onto the scene in his first career game with 6 catches for 131 yards and a touchdown. Hock caught his 2nd career touchdown in week 4 before landing in concussion protocol week 5 and he never got back on track with Stafford out weeks 10-17. I expect a huge leap forward in his second season, don’t be surprised if he’s pushing the top tier heading into 2021.
11. Noah Fant – It’s truly the golden age of upside fantasy tight ends. Fant had a better 2nd half to his rookie season than Hockenson. He’s an explosive big play threat and should benefit from the progression of his second year quarterback, Drew Lock. This entire tier has elite upside.
13. Irv Smith Jr. – Long term, I’m a fan of Irv the Perv. But what holds me back from a higher ranking here is Kyle Rudolph poking his red nose around for the next four years stealing some of Irv’s workload. That said, Smith is a talented enough receiver that sooner or later he could be the #1 pass catcher in Minnesota, and easily a top 10 fantasy tight end with more upside from there.
14. Hayden Hurst – When the Falcons traded for Hurst here’s what I said, “With Hooper on his way out, the Falcons dealt their 2020 2nd and 5th rounders to the Ravens in exchange for Hurst and their 2020 4th rounder. The Ravens’ talented 2018 first rounder has been overshadowed by Mark Andrews in his first two seasons. He’ll be a top late round tight end option for me in 2020 drafts.” Initially I thought I had him ranked pretty high at #23, this is until I released my top 15 dynasty tight ends. Some of you readers questioned why Hurst wasn’t in my top 15 and forced me to look in the mirror. And it wasn’t pretty since I haven’t cut my hair or showered in months. This is a great situation in an Atlanta offense that made Hooper an elite fantasy tight end. I wouldn’t be surprised in the slightest if Hurst is a top 10 tight end in 2020.
15. Tyler Higbee – I never expected tight ends to be such a hot button topic when I dropped the top 15, but everyone seemed to have a guy they felt was snubbed. The 27-year old Higbee is very popular in the dynasty community after a strong finish to 2019 where he saw 12 targets per game over the final four weeks. I like him too, but let’s remember Gerald Everett is no Chris Evert and he was dealing with a knee injury over those final four weeks.