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Tight Ends to Target in 2021 Fantasy Football

The staff lets you know which tight ends you should be targeting this year in fantasy football.

As we get close to finishing up TE Week, here are the tight ends our staff are targeting this year in fantasy football (ADP via FF Calculator).

Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders (Paddi)

ADP: TE2, 2.11

I’m taking two paths when it comes to drafting tight ends in 2021. The first is to take one of the big three tight ends in the first two rounds or I’m leaving it very late and looking to find a pair of tight ends that offer some upside. When I go early, I’ve found myself favoring Darren Waller over Travis Kelce or George Kittle and I’m feeling good about it.

Related: Top 30 Tight Ends for 2021

Waller backed up his breakout 2019 season with a further improvement in targets, receptions, yards and touchdowns and finished 2020 as the TE2 behind only Kelce. He enters 2021 still the Raiders’ number one passing target, and should improve his numbers again and should push for over 140 targets and 100 catches. With such a solid target share and high fantasy floor, I want Waller as often as I can get him in 2021 drafts.

George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers (Nic)

ADP: TE3, 3.04

George Kittle racked up 12.9 .5PPR points per game, which was tied for first at the tight end position, 19th amongst running backs, and 13th amongst wide receivers. In 2020, his 12.6 .5PPR PPG ranked third at the tight end position, 21st amongst running backs, and 19th amongst wide receivers. Although hopes are understandably high for rookie tight end Kyle Pitts and his 4.08, TE4 ADP, Kittle’s 3.04, TE3 ADP is the last chance to grab one of the elite guy’s at the position who’s proven that he belongs at the top of the tight end food chain.

With rookie QB Trey Lance making a strong case to be the Week 1 starter, Kittle has a chance to play 17 games with the most talented quarterback of his young career—and produce career-best numbers in the process. Although taking a tight end this early can be daunting, the positional point difference that Kittle offers, coupled with the bevy of studly wide receivers available in Rounds 4 through 6, makes the dynamic tight end a must-draft player at his current ADP.

Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons (Pete)

ADP: TE4, 4.08

I can’t not write about my boy here. I’ve not been shy about my love for Kyle Pitts this year so likely you’ve already heard or read my thoughts about why this man is a must-draft this year. So let me bring you some bonus stats rather than just “Kyle Pitts is a 6-foot-6 wide receiver playing tight end who’s about to step into 100+ targets playing with a top-10 quarterback in a hyper-efficient offense”.

Last year in Arthur Smith’s offense, Jonnu Smith led the Tennessee Titans with 17 red zone targets, catching 10 of them for 8 touchdowns. Smith accounted for over 25% of the Titans’ red zone targets, despite sharing a field with A.J. Brown and Corey Davis. Now as head coach for the Falcons, I have a feeling Arthur Smith is going to love drawing up plays that involve Pitts around the goal line. A tight end who realistically could have 1,000 yards receiving and over 8 touchdowns going in the fourth? Sign me the hell up.

Quick plug for Irv Smith Jr. if you don’t want to spend early at tight end. Smith Jr. was the fourth most consistent and efficient tight end last year (per NECC) and with an increase role in 2021, he could finish a top-7 option with relative ease.

Gerald Everett, Seattle Seahawks (Clark)

ADP: TE23, 15.06

Tight end value is nearly impossible to find later in the draft. At least for the last past four to five years, some go to great lengths to convince themselves they’ve found the TE diving rod and that THIS YEAR will be different. THIS YEAR we’ll find that late round gem, or successfully stream the position. Well, as we’ve seen in the fairly recent past, that is just not the case. So, draft a TE early. Mark Andrews should be your backup plan. But, if you want to wait, here is my backup plan for the backup plan. 

Gerald Everett has a great shot to buck the trend of later round TE’s not being worth their salt. I’ve written about Everett in a little more detail, so I’ll keep it brief. Everett, while only having played football since his senior year in high school, ended up as the second round pick of the Los Angeles Rams four years ago. Seattle hired Shane Waldron away from the Rams and appointed Waldron as their new offensive coordinator. Seattle also signed Everett. Everett in a new spicy Seahawks offense?

Even when things go according to plan, even when I draft a TE stud I feel like I can really count on to give me an edge, I am still taking Everett super late in drafts. If he hits, I can trade my “stud” TE later in the season and pick up another piece. If he doesn’t hit, it will be easy to drop him and move on.