Finding value plays in fantasy football doesn’t always mean picking the diamond out of the rough, it all comes down to average draft position and how much you think that player can help your team. I’ve got a range of tight ends below who I like this season, but none would be considered deep sleepers. I don’t want to take too many risks at tight end, which often leads me to take one of the true studs like Travis Kelce or George Kittle. If they fall to where I like, I’ll be in on T.J. Hockenson, Mark Andrews and Logan Thomas, along with Darren Waller who I have below. Don’t get too crazy with your tight end picks, because the sleepers usually don’t pan out.
Tight end draft targets
Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders (TE2, Overall 25)
Waller isn’t going to be a big value at his ADP, but if you can get him right at his ADP, I still think he can be a value pick. Waller backed up a strong 2019 breakout with an even better 2020. He’s shown the ability to stay healthy and dominate. I like the Raiders receivers, but I don’t see any taking over the No. 1 targets from Waller, especially with Derrek Carr behind center. Carr rather play it safe and when he has a target like Waller to help him move the chains, he’s going to take advantage. If the Raiders receivers can take a step up this season as a whole, I think that only helps free Waller up for better yards per target and touchdown numbers.
Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings (TE11, Overall 112)
Last season Irv Smith Jr. and Kyle Rudolph split work almost evenly, but Smith ended up with five touchdowns to Rudolph’s one. This season Rodolph is gone and we should get more work for Smith offensively. I don’t think we’ll see a huge explosion of targets, but Smith has the ability to put up strong numbers on a workload that doesn’t reach those of the top tier tight ends. To be a Top 6 fantasy tight end it only took 60 receptions, 700 yards and seven touchdowns last year. Smith is a better offensive player than Rudolph was and will get the lead targets. A season like that is easily in his range and higher.
Robert Tonyan, Green Bay Packers (TE10, Overall 81)
Tonyan had some extreme touchdown luck last season, as he found the end zone 11 times on just 59 targets and 52 receptions. That kind of ratio isn’t likely to repeat, but we are talking about Aaron Rodgers here. He’s been known his whole career to help receivers put up the most efficient numbers in the league. He would likely need to see more than 58 targets to reach those touchdown numbers again, but he’s not going to need huge target numbers to do so. Get him up over 70 targets this season and I want him in every league at his current ADP.
Blake Jarwin, Dallas Cowboys (TE24, Overall 181)
Right now Jarwin takes a leap of faith, as he’s still returning from the injury that ended his 2020 season, but he did return for their second preseason game and should be ready by their first game. Jarwin beat out Dalton Schultz before his injury and now he’ll need to do it again as he returns. But I think that happens and the Cowboys can produce fantasy relevant tight ends. His upside is easily as a Top 12 fantasy tight end if he wins the job outright.
Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears (TE21, Overall 187)
I’m not a big fan of Kmet’s, but his ADP feels low, especially after he got all of the first team snaps in their initial preseason game. The Bears should be in a better position at quarterback this season and Kmet appears to be in line for the lead job over washed up Jimmy Graham. Graham caught eight touchdowns last season for the BEars and he is absolutely a shell of his former self. Allen Robinson is a stud and will get all the targets he can handle, but after him, targets are up for grabs and Kmet should see his fair share.