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Tight Ends to Target in 2021 Fantasy Football Based on NECC Consistency Rating

Using our in-house NECC consistency metric to determine the top tight ends to draft in fantasy football this year.

Here at NerdBall, we’re striving to unlock the secrets to winning at fantasy football. After trying numerous statistical models, I’ve been able to create a metric that not only takes into account consistency, which I’ve based on a player’s standard deviation of their fantasy scores and points per game totals, but also included an efficiency element to take into account how well each player scores relative to the number touches he has.

The result gives us a metric that can be applied to compare all fantasy relevant skill position players, though I’ve discovered the comparisons are best applied at position level due to the variable nature of the number of touches that can influence the weighting of the final rating. The name I’ve given to the metric is the NerdBall Efficiency and Consistency Coefficient, or NECC for short. (The full list of the NECC scores for all players for 2020 can be found here, and the 2021 scores will be posted during the season to help support you in selecting your lineups each week.)

In this article, I will look at 2020’s top-24 tight ends per NECC to figure out who you want draft this year for consistent points scoring in your 2021 fantasy team.

Let’s get into it!

Top-24 Tight Ends Per NECC in 2020
PlayerTeamGamesPPG 0.5 PPRSt Dev 0.5 PPRPoints per TouchNECC
Travis KelceKC1517.344.182.489.7%
George KittleSF712.972.742.1110.0%
Jared CookNO128.222.682.9910.9%
Irv SmithMIN107.642.312.7710.9%
Robert TonyanGB1410.133.312.8411.5%
Rob GronkowskiTB148.783.122.8612.4%
Mark AndrewsBAL1310.493.362.5312.7%
Jimmy GrahamCHI139.012.832.4412.9%
Darren WallerLV1513.653.692.0912.9%
Jonnu SmithTEN139.113.422.8213.3%
Mike GesickiMIA139.663.752.6214.8%
T.J. HockensonDET159.192.992.1515.1%
Dallas GoedertPHI118.492.722.0315.8%
Tyler HigbeeLAR147.052.812.3517.0%
Trey BurtonIND116.302.502.3117.2%
Hunter HenryLAC148.242.921.9218.5%
Noah FantDEN138.423.021.8919.0%
Hayden HurstATL147.883.332.1219.9%
Eric EbronPIT148.133.542.0321.4%
Logan ThomasWAS158.553.631.8123.5%
Evan EngramNYG157.252.871.6224.3%
Dalton SchultzDAL157.103.351.9024.8%
Austin HooperCLE126.573.401.8827.6%
Gerald EverettLAR145.065.221.7758.2%
Tight Ends I’m Drafting

Jared Cook, Los Angeles Chargers

I have to admit I was surprised to see Cook sit so high in the NECC scoring in what was his least productive season since 2016. He finished as the TE19 after being drafted as the TE9 last season, and was in and out of the lineup with a lingering groin injury. When he did play, Cook was both consistent and efficient, finishing third in standard deviation and first in points per touch with 2.99. This bodes well for his switch to the Chargers this offseason, where he sticks with new OC Joe Lombardi who he was with in New Orleans. Cook should slot in nicely as the No. 4 receiver, and Hunter Henry has vacated nearly 100 targets that Cook should see most of. As the current TE20 going in the 14th round of drafts, Cook is a low-risk, high-reward play who you should draft and reap the rewards.

Irv Smith Jr, Minnesota Vikings

Irv Smith is getting a bit more love in drafts than Cook, but not much. Currently being drafted as the TE16 in the 13th round, Smith is set to see his breakout year based on an increased target share with Kyle Rudolph leaving in free agency. Smith’s NECC score of 10.9% was driven by the lowest standard deviation of any of the top scoring tight ends and the fifth best points per touch and with increased volume, could easily finish as a top 10 tight end in 2021. I have Smith with a 12th round grade for this year, so you don’t have to reach much to grab a potential valuable asset to your fantasy team in the double digit rounds.

Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

After a slow start to 2020, Gronkowski showed signs of the player he was before retiring, finishing as the TE9 in fantasy on the way to winning his fourth Super Bowl ring. His NECC score was driven by the 2nd best points per touch of all the tight ends with 2.86, though his standard deviation was 12th because of that slow start. Heading into 2021, Gronk isn’t great value, going as the TE11 in the 9th round in current drafts, but we know he will always see a steady stream of targets in a Tom Brady led offense and with a full offseason behind him, is a good value pick if you want to wait on a tight end.