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Fantasy football 2021: Second-year tight ends with breakout potential

Tight ends are rarely going to be massive point scorers on a consistent basis, but a good TE can mean the difference between a win or loss

New Orleans Saints tight end Adam Trautman (82) on the kickoff return team in the second half against the Minnesota Vikings at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Chuck Cook-USA TODAY Sports

A tight end is an important piece of a fantasy football roster. While they’re not going to get you big numbers every week, a productive outing from a TE could mean the difference between a win or a loss any given Sunday.

There weren’t a ton of rookie tight ends who made a splash in 2020, but that just means a few of them are poised for breakout seasons with all the offseason roster shuffling that went on.

Here are the top second-year tight ends who are ready to have a breakout year in 2021.

Adam Trautman, New Orleans Saints

The Saints will have a new QB in 2021 after the retirement of eventual Hall of Famer Drew Brees. Still, no matter who is throwing the ball, Trautman should be on the field quite a bit this year.

In his rookie season, he was on the field for just 37% of New Orleans’ offensive snaps. Even in that small sample size, he still hauled in 15 catches for 171 yards and a score. While that’s not all that impressive, the cool part is that he only saw 16 targets come his way. So if he gets a ball thrown to him, odds are he’s going to come down with it.

Trautman will also probably slot into the starting TE role now that last year’s starter, Jared Cook, has moved on to LA, so expect a larger role for him this year.

Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears

Kmet was the top tight end drafted in 2020 and had a productive rookie season. The second-year man out of Notre Dame was on a roster full of capable pass-catchers though, so he got buried a bit in the statistical categories. He ended the season with just 28 catches for 243 yards and two scores. He wasn’t TE1, though, with Jimmy Grahm taking that role after he was signed that offseason.

Still, he proved his worth when the opportunities presented themself last year. Even though Grahm is still on the roster, Kmet should get an expanded role in this offense. The key will to get chemistry down with his new QB, Justin Fields, to become somebody the rookie trusts when the game is on the line.