Part of me wondered if anyone would even notice if I only ranked the top 10 tight ends for 2021 fantasy football. We all remember what Confuscious said, “If a fantasy football tight end ranking post falls in the forest and nobody’s there to read, then did it happen?” I believe Confuscious also told us to draft Darren Waller each of the last two seasons. Wait. No. That was Donkey Teeth. People confuse the two of us so often that sometimes I get confused myself. Identity crises aside, someone must rank the Irv Smiths and the Adam Trautmans of the world, so why not Confuscious Teeth? If you’re just looking for a plain old list of rankings without the fluff, you can stop right here and go check out my top 200 for 2021 fantasy football. Anyway, here’s my top 20 tight ends for 2021 fantasy football:

Click here to see all 2021 Fantasy Football Tiered Rankings.

*Note: These rankings are geared toward half PPR scoring. Projections provided in this season’s rankings are NOT my own, they come from Rudy Gamble’s World-Renowned 2021 Fantasy Football Projections. These preseason projections are available free of charge, while Rudy’s in-season weekly projection subscription is currently available until August 31st at an early bird discounted price of only $17.99 for the entire season! These are the same weekly projections that won Rudy Gamble the FantasyPros designation of “Best Bold Ranker” for the years 2017-2019 (and likely 2020!). 

Tier 4

11. Rob Gronkowski – I want to rank Gronk higher. In fact, I was one of few analysts who were crazy enough to rank him higher than this in his 2020 return season.  After the very slow start and all of the “blocking tight end” media nonsense, he eventually rounded into form. But let’s face it, he’s not anywhere near the player he used to be and there are tons of mouths for Brady to feed in Tampa still. I’m fine with grabbing him as a cheap TE1, just don’t expect a ton of consistency from him in that offense, more boom or bust.

Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 40 Receptions, 540 Receiving Yards, 5 Touchdowns

12. Mike Gesicki – Will Tua take a massive leap forward in 2021? I’m banking on it since I own the entire Dolphins wide receiver corps on more than one team. Nice risk management! But as noted previously, tight end production isn’t necessarily dependent on their respective QB’s success. Many a terrible quarterback will lean heavily on their big men running short routes across the middle. Regardless, this could be the year we’ve all been waiting for from Gesicki if the storms settle down in Miami. 

Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 55 Receptions, 668 Receiving Yards, 5 Touchdowns

13. Evan Engram – See two inches above. Everything I wrote about Gesicki applies to Engram. We’ve seen flashes of brilliance from both of these guys but their body of work has also been about as consistent as a crack accident working a desk job. Let’s hope for less crack and more touchdowns in 2021.

Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 60 Receptions, 628 Receiving Yards, 4 Touchdowns

14. Irv Smith Jr. – 2021 feels like the year of Irv The Perv. That’s my cousin, he’s been down on his luck but really seems to have his life moving in the right direction. Irv Smith though, this guy also seems primed for an explosion with Kyle Rudolph FINALLY out of town and the Cook/Jefferson/Thielen trio drawing all of the opposing defense’s attention.

Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 55 Receptions, 631 Receiving Yards, 6 Touchdowns

15. Tyler Higbee – There are high expectations for Higbust in Hollywood this year with Gerald Everett finally out of the picture. I see the argument, but I’m not fully sold that Higbee will be more than a last resort for Stafford in a high-powered offense featuring Robert Woods, Cooper Kupp, Van Jefferson and a healthy DeSean Jacks7#n$. Was almost able to type that last part without busting out in laughter. Still, Higbee will probably be the fifth option in this offense at most times which I have a tough time getting excited about.

Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 49 Receptions, 541 Receiving Yards, 4 Touchdowns

16. Jonnu Smith – We know Bill likes to utilize the tight end position heavily and we also Hunter Henry has missed some important time in camp. Unfortunately, now Jonnu is banged up with an ankle injury himself. Last I read, Smith has no timetable for return and the injury “isn’t considered serious.” OK, so it isn’t serious but they can’t even give us a rough timetable? I don’t love the sound of this, but not moving Jonnu down too far just yet.

Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 52 Receptions, 575 Receiving Yards, 5 Touchdowns

Tier 5

17. Hunter Henry – At this point, we know what Hunter Henry is: an injury-prone tight end who produces back-end TE1 numbers while he’s on the field. Yes, Jonnu Smith joins Henry in New England this year and yes, Cam Newton looks washed up. But we’ve seen Belichick utilize two tight ends heavily in the past and if Cam lasts the season as the starter I have to imagine heavy tight end usage will be a big part of the reason he does. Remember, Greg Olsen had several great seasons with Cam under center in Carolina. Granted that was a different Cam Newton, but he can still throw the ball 10ish yards—I think.

UPDATE 8/14/21: Hunter Henry is hurt, shocker. The Pats’ big man has a shoulder injury and will miss very important reps while learning a notoriously difficult New England system. I’m moving him down a bit with this news.

Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 52 Receptions, 527 Receiving Yards, 4 Touchdowns

18. Cole Kmet – As a Bears fan, I watched enough of Kmet last year to be fully sold. I’m drafting him in every single deep league I can. Regardless of whether Andy Dalton, Justin Fields or the Hamburgler is at QB this season, Kmet should be one of the focal points of the passing game as he’s set to take the big sophomore tight end leap.

Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 52 Receptions, 524 Receiving Yards, 3 Touchdowns

19. Adam Trautman – The Trout Man is getting a ton of buzz this preseason and for good reason: there’s nobody else to catch passing in New Orleans. Michael Thomas’s injury and friction with the front office make us question if he’ll even play with the Saints at all this season. That leagues Marquez Callaway and Tre’Quan Smith to pick up the slack. Yikes. I don’t care who the QB is (that’s not true, I’m praying it’s Taysom because I’ve drafted him on a bunch of teams already), Trautman should see steady targets all year long.

Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 42 Receptions, 443 Receiving Yards, 4 Touchdowns

20. Austin Hooper – After dominating in 2019 with the Falcons, Hooper is now a bit of a forgotten man after a mostly lost first year in Cleveland where he suffered multiple injuries. If it weren’t for the presence of talented second-year tight end Harrison Bryant—and to a lesser extent David Njoku—I’d be all in on Hooper this year. But even with the competition, the Browns aren’t paying Hoop 14 mill over the next two seasons to play second fiddle. The real question is will Baker even be throwing the ball often enough to make Hooper fantasy relevant. 

Rudy’s 2021 Projection: 53 Receptions, 528 Receiving Yards, 4 Touchdowns

 

31 Comments
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kentucky todd
kentucky todd
1 year ago

Hey Donkey Teeth – thanks for all the help you provide with these rankings!

Keeper question. In a PPR league with 2 RBs and only 2WRs, who would you keep?

Jonathan Taylor (5th Round) or Stefon Diggs (7th Round)

Each year the rounds go down by two (ex. next year JT would be a 3rd rounder). Thanks!

FrankGrimes
FrankGrimes
1 year ago

hurts my brain hearing Grey talk about football lol

FrankGrimes
FrankGrimes
1 year ago
Reply to  Donkey Teeth

When’s the pod league draft?

Grey
Admin
1 year ago
Reply to  FrankGrimes

I am a major football lover, I always toss the pigskin to my boy, Ted

Grey
Admin
1 year ago
Reply to  Grey

Hmm, finding out now, calling football the pigskin, and a pig ear that Ted chews on are not related

FrankGrimes
FrankGrimes
1 year ago
Reply to  Grey

Haha and no Reggie Roby reference… impressive!

Grey
Admin
1 year ago
Reply to  FrankGrimes

Hehe

Andrew Zaremski
Andrew Zaremski
1 year ago

So I know this probably isn’t the place to ask but are their PPR rankings and strategy for a 2 QB league? I just rejoined and draft is Saturday so looking to play catch up .

Andrew Zaremski
Andrew Zaremski
1 year ago
Reply to  Donkey Teeth

I appreciate the response. I’ve used Grey for fantasy baseball and its worked out well this year so I’d figure I’d give the football guys a shot. What about PPR content?

The Harrow
The Harrow
1 year ago

depending on BN slot amounts 4 QB starters (or 1 of them being upside later in year starter, or at worst one of your own backups) optimal. if short BN not as big a deal. i’m assuming this isn’t best ball though, there you’d want the at least 4.

southside dom
southside dom
1 year ago

10 team keeper league. Non-PPR, start 3 WRs.

I do not have a 5th round pick this year, so drafting a little shorthanded. Which of the following would you keep?

Josh Allen in the 12th
Terry McLaurin in the 4th
Miles Gaskin in the 4th
Chase Edmonds in the 10th
Clyde Edwards-Helaire in the 1st (6th overall pick)

Allen seems like the obvious choice but QBs stay on the board forever in our league (he’d probably fall to the 6th or so).

I like Scary Terry too just to have two solid WRs and then look to load up on RB depth in the first 4 rounds and beyond.

Barker
Barker
1 year ago

Pick 3
1 QB 2 wr 2 rb 1 te 1 flex

Rodgers 8
Kamara 12
Waller 5
Aiyuk 15
Keenan allen 4

Barker
Barker
1 year ago
Reply to  Barker

Also Mostert in the 11th

JC
JC
1 year ago

. 5 PPR 12 teamer. Drafted tenth. Here’s the squad. Would like your overall take on them and areas for improvement.

K Murray
Ekeler, Gibson, Carson
Thielen, OBJ
Gesicki
Bench: Cooks, Beasley, Fournette

Chisoxx22
Chisoxx22
1 year ago

10 team, 1 qb, ppr, 2 flex spots.dynasty

Would you trade kittle/carson/ 22 1st for hockenson/Barkley?

ryanoger
ryanoger
1 year ago

10 team .5 ppr keeper league

We keep 5 dudes…

The 5 I plan on keeping are (also have the 1st pick):

Lamar Jackson
AJ Brown
Amari Cooper
Zeke Elliott
D’Andre Swift

Keep those 5 or switch out for anyone of the following?
Herbert, Cooks, Drake, Jones II

thanks man

ryanoger
ryanoger
1 year ago
Reply to  ryanoger

Also, I plan on taking Najee Harris with the first pick – but you think I should trade the pick for someone else you like? Thoughts?

appreciate it man

TualatinTwoStep
TualatinTwoStep
1 year ago

Trautman is hurt, and was lining up as a blocking TE anyways.

Juwan Johnson will play the Jared Cook move TE role in New Orleans, and should be on everyone’s radar.

Bob
Bob
1 year ago

14 team ,half PPR league. I have the first pick overall, and am planning to take Dalvin Cook (CMC kept)
Would you rather keep Patrick mahomes for a 9th round pick (early in round) or Antonio Gibson for a 6th round pick (late in round). There are multiple running backs kept so far, so someone worried about position scarcity

Benjamin Boyd
Benjamin Boyd
1 year ago

Donkey – I took your advice on Waller last year and cruised to the playoffs. Who is this year’s ‘Waller’?