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Top 30 tight end rankings for Week 9 fantasy football

We’re serving up the Top-30 fantasy football tight ends to start in your Week 9 fantasy football league.

San Francisco 49ers tight end George Kittle smiles at the camera before the game against the Carolina Panthers at Levi’s Stadium. Stan Szeto-USA TODAY Sports

RANKINGS UPDATE

Unless Patrick Mahomes ends up playing, I’m worried about Travis Kelce, so I moved him all the way to TE4, which is sacrilege. The same is true with Mark Andrews, who gets a true test against the Patriots. He’s still a must-start in a weak position, but I dropped him a couple spots to TE7. Jonnu Smith gets a bump with Delanie Walker out. The Panthers are a tougher matchup than the Buccaneers last week, but they are tougher against outside receivers than tight ends. Cameron Brate also gets a boost with O.J. Howard out again and Seattle is a plus matchup. Ryan Griffin didn’t shoot up to the Top-12 with Chris Herndon still out, but he proved himself as a good red zone target last week and tight ends thrive on touchdowns in fantasy. I moved him to TE15.


Tight ends continue to be a pain in the posterior for fantasy players who didn’t draft Austin Hooper and Darren Waller, but we still keep, keeping on. What’s that you say? Austin Hooper is on a bye along with your newly found gem Gerald Everett? Well, it’s time to get back into those mines and start digging.

If you roster George Kittle, you can’t be happy with three of his touchdowns getting called back due to penalties this year, but there’s a good reason to believe he’s going to go off this week, and then again two weeks later. Due to a weird scheduling quirk, the 49ers face the Cardinals twice in three weeks. Arizona managed to keep a tight end from scoring a touchdown for the second time last week, as the combo of Josh Hill and Dan Arnold, wasn’t he on Roseanne, put up five receptions for 64 yards. On the season, they’ve given up an average of 6.8 receptions for 87.8 yards and one touchdown per game to opposing tight ends. Tampa Bay is closing in on them, but the Cardinals still wear the crown for awful tight end defense.

With tight ends, you must gravitate toward opportunity, as the bulk of tight ends in the league get very few chances to put up statistics. The player with the most opportunities is Darren Waller, who leads the league with 8.3 targets per game. And after not scoring a touchdown in his first five games, he has three in his last two. Detroit is a good matchup, as they’ve allowed the fifth-most yards per game to tight ends, and they rank 22nd in DVOA against the position. Add that to Waller’s high target numbers and the second-highest over/under of the week, and you have yourself a great fantasy play.

As I mentioned, you’re playing the guys who get work, and Travis Kelce, Hunter Henry, Mark Andrews, and Evan Engram are all must-plays in this tight end economy, but there are always those plays that might pan out from players who aren’t the target hogs of their position.

In Week 9, Jonnu Smith sticks out much like he did last week. The question is, will Delanie Walker play against the Panthers? At this point, we’re in the dark, but Walker’s ankle injury is to the same ankle that put him on I.R. last year, and he, like every living thing, is not getting any younger. Smith isn’t a target hog in the Titans offense, but Ryan Tannehill likes throwing to his tight ends, and I would be happy to stream Smith again this week if Walker can’t go.

We may have a Chris Herndon sighting this week. He’s been getting in limited practices with his bum hamstring, and now Adam Gase says that Herndon is progressing and “looks better for this week.” Last week Sam Darnold helped tight end Ryan Griffin to two touchdowns, and last season, Herndon and Darnold were sympatico to finish off the year. This week they get a great matchup against the Dolphins, who rank 30th in DVOA against tight ends. Miami hasn’t given up significant statistics to the position, but they also hadn’t faced a reliable tight end since Week one, when Mark Andrews caught all eight of his targets for 108 yards and a touchdown. If Herndon gets a full week of practice in, I’m starting him in this plush matchup.

Tight End Rankings, Week 9

Rank Player Team Opp
Rank Player Team Opp
1 George Kittle SF @ ARI
2 Darren Waller OAK vs DET
3 Hunter Henry LAC vs GB
4 Travis Kelce KC vs MIN
5 Evan Engram NYG vs DAL
6 Zach Ertz PHI vs CHI
7 Mark Andrews BAL vs NE
8 Greg Olsen CAR vs TEN
9 Jonnu Smith TEN @ CAR
10 Cameron Brate TB @ SEA
11 Eric Ebron IND @ PIT
12 Darren Fells HOU @ JAC
13 T.J. Hockenson DET @ OAK
14 Jack Doyle IND @ PIT
15 Ryan Griffin NYJ @ MIA
16 Dallas Goedert PHI vs CHI
17 Vance McDonald PIT vs IND
18 Jimmy Graham GB @ LAC
19 Mike Gesicki MIA vs NYJ
20 Jason Witten DAL @ NYG
21 Jordan Akins HOU @ JAC
22 Kyle Rudolph MIN @ KC
23 Noah Fant DEN vs CLE
24 Irv Smith Jr. MIN @ KC
25 Trey Burton CHI @ PHI
26 Foster Moreau OAK vs DET
27 Benjamin Watson NE @ BAL
28 Dawson Knox BUF vs WAS
29 Anthony Firkser TEN @ CAR
30 Luke Willson SEA vs TB
31 Blake Jarwin DAL @ NYG
32 Jeremy Sprinkle WAS @ BUF
33 Ricky Seals-Jones CLE @ DEN
34 Josh Oliver JAC vs HOU