Under normal circumstances, fantasy owners of Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Mark Andrews, and Darren Waller wouldn’t have to pay attention to Week 17 fantasy TE rankings, but with COVID complications and the usual injury worries, that isn’t the case in 2021. It’s smart to have an understanding of the streamer-level/sleeper players for the fantasy championship because you never know when the reserve/COVID list will rip away your fantasy studs.
Obviously, you’re starting the guys mentioned above if they’re active, and none of the premier tight ends have worrisome matchups, so don’t overthink it.
If the guy you plan to start does end up being surprise inactive, some of the top streaming options look to be Tyler Conklin (@ Packers), Ricky Seals-Jones (vs. Eagles), Gerald Everett (vs. Lions), Cole Kmet (vs. Giants), and C.J. Uzomah (vs. Chiefs). Seals-Jones has the best TE matchup possible, but he’s probably a better play in PPR leagues, while Uzomah has the most standard league upside. Conklin, Everett, and Kmet have been productive enough to be considered in neutral matchups. Ultimately, a tight end stream is never particularly “safe,” but all the guys in this group have something going for them heading into Week 17. You can add Foster Moreau (@ Colts) if Waller (knee) if Waller is out again.
You could also try Mo Alie-Cox (vs. Raiders) and Albert Okwuegbunam (@ Chargers), but they’re obviously a little tougher to trust since they aren’t consistent producers. The matchups are very strong, and a touchdown from one of them is all you need to “get by” in standard leagues at this position.
James O’Shaughnessy (@ Patriots), Evan Engram (@ Bears), Jared Cook (vs. Broncos), and David Njoku and Austin Hooper (@ Steelers) are on the other side of things with tough matchups. We know none of these guys are constant producers, which means scary matchups largely eliminate them from starting consideration. O’Shaughnessy might be further hampered by the potential return of Dan Arnold (knee), which would make it impossible to figure out which one to trust. (Update: O’Shaughnessy and Arnold are out.)
However, we should note there are ways a streamer-level TE with a tough matchup could become somewhat attractive. For instance, with Mike Williams out in Week 17 due to being on the reserve/COVID list, Cook could move up rankings if the Chargers lose another key receiver. At the end of the day, he’s tied to Justin Herbert and would be one of his most reliable targets. The same could happen for any of the other TEs in this range if their teams’ WRs are hit by the COVID list. (Update: Williams is playing and Cook is out.)
Ultimately, the NFL’s current COVID situation can shake things up in a multitude of ways, so be sure to check back often for our latest rankings updates. Since tight end rankings are one of the most fluid based on injuries, matchups, and other factors, these rankings could look very different by the end of the week.
Note: We’ll be updating these TE rankings throughout the week, so check back for the latest player movement and analysis.
Fantasy TE Rankings Week 17: Who to start at tight end
Rankings based on standard, non-PPR scoring
|1||Travis Kelce, KC @ CIN|
|2||George Kittle, SF vs. HOU|
|3||Rob Gronkowski, TB @ NYJ|
|4||Mark Andrews, BAL vs. LAR|
|5||Dawson Knox, BUF vs. ATL|
|6||Dallas Goedert, PHI @ WAS|
|7||Hunter Henry, NE vs. JAX. We’ve known all along Henry is a touchdown-or-bust standard league option, but in this matchup against one of the worst defenses in the league, New England should have plenty of red-zone opportunities. It wouldn’t be surprising to see another two-TD game from Henry,|
|8||Mike Gesicki, MIA @ TEN. The Titans are statistically strong against TEs, but Gesicki actually plays more like a WR (even more than Kyle Pitts), so those statistics don’t carry a ton of weight here. Gesicki has cooled off recently, but we expect Miami to pass in the neighborhood of 40 times, so there will be plenty of targets to go around alongside Jaylen Waddle and DeVante Parker.|
|9||Kyle Pitts, ATL @ BUF. Pitts has been better than most people think, but his one total touchdown has kept him from being an elite fantasy tight end. He’s well on his way to being a 1,000-yard receiver and is the TE5 in PPR leagues this year. That said, his upside is tough to bench, even in one of the toughest matchups for TEs. Atlanta should pass 40-plus times in this one as Buffalo’s offense scores in a hurry.|
|10||Noah Fant, DEN @ LAC. The Chargers came into Week 16 allowing the second-most fantasy points to TEs before allowing Brevin Jordan to catch four passes for 56 yards, so Fant’s upside is high here. We also know his floor is very low in one of the worst passing attacks in the league, so consider him a boom-or-bust option. Ultimately, we don’t blame anyone who opts to go with someone that has a higher floor, but again, his upside is higher than it has been all season thanks to the matchup.|
|11||Tyler Higbee, LAR @ BAL. The Raven allows the fifth-most fantasy points to TEs, and Higbee has become more involved in the Rams’ passing attack, so this should set up to be one of his better fantasy performances. This game could set up to be a blowout, but the Ravens are strong against the run, so expect Los Angeles to pour it on with their top-level passing attack. A lot of times at tight end, it’s just smart to target a guy in a great offense with a juicy matchup. Higbee is very matchup dependent, so we like him right here as a low-end TE1.|
|12||Zach Ertz, ARI @ DAL. Ertz has drawn 24 targets over the past two weeks and looks the be the primary beneficiary of DeAndre Hopkins’ absence. Any tight end who can command 10-plus targets has top-five upside, but since Arizona is struggling on offense as a whole, we’re not quite ready to rank him around that spot. He has one of the safest floors in PPR leagues, though, and can finish as a TE1 in standard leagues against the Cowboys’ defense that is just a neutral matchup for TEs.|
|13||Foster Moreau, LV @ IND. Moreau has finally shown some life after two duds in Weeks 13 and 14, so if Darren Waller (knee) remains out, we like him a solid streamer in a top-four matchup for fantasy TEs. He could ultimately fall flat since the Raiders’ offense has looked lifeless, but in PPR leagues, he should have a safe floor and decent upside.|
|14||Pat Freiermuth, PIT vs. CLE. Cleveland presents a top-10 matchup for tight ends, and we know Freiermuth is always a good bet for a touchdown in the red zone. Sure, the Steelers’ offense looked atrocious, but they’ve always played decent against the Browns, and Freiermuth caught a touchdown against them last time they squared off. He’s become a touchdown-or-bust option as of late, but as the weather becomes colder, expect a washed Big Ben to keep the ball in the shallow parts of the field. He leads all TEs in red-zone targets, so we’re not scared of the touchdown-or-bust label.|
|15||Dalton Schultz, DAL vs. ARI. Arizona is the No. 2 defense against fantasy TEs, but since Schultz has eight games with seven or more targets and six touchdowns on the year, his upside remains higher than the guys ranked below him. There’s something to be said about being in one of the best offenses in the NFL, so there’s no need to play it safe here. Shoot for upside because he has overall TE1 upside while players like Cole Kmet and Ricky Seals-Jones do not.|
|16||Cole Kmet, CHI vs. NYG. If Justin Fields (ankle) is back in the lineup, Kmet should benefit as one of his favorite targets. He’s starting to become a safe-floor guy in PPR leagues, but his big week with a receiving touchdown has to be coming at some point, right? Unfortunately, Jimmy Graham has vultured some of his end zone targets, but in a neutral matchup with New York, perhaps this will be his breakout game.|
|17||Ricky Seals-Jones, WAS vs. PHI. Seales-Jones has been frustrating after we’ve called on him as a TE streamer, but the Eagles are the best matchup for tight ends, so we’re OK rolling the dice with him if options are limited. Realistically, no one is going to be starting players in this part of the rankings if COVID and injuries don’t take away a few key guys, but matchups are everything in this range of tight ends.|
|18||Albert Okwuegbunam, DEN vs. LAC. It’s hard to be confident Okwuegbunam since he’s technically a “backup” TE, but in one of the best TE matchups, he gets enough targets, particularly in the red zone, to be considered in very deep leagues.|
|19||Mo Alie-Cox, IND vs. LV|
|20||Tyler Conklin, MIN @ GB|
|21||C.J. Uzomah, CIN vs. KC|
|22||Gerald Everett, SEA vs. DET|
|23||Evan Engram, NYG @ CHI|
|24||David Njoku, CLE @ PIT|
|25||Austin Hooper, CLE @ PIT|
|26||Josiah Deguara, GB vs. MIN|
|27||Ryan Griffin, NYJ vs. TB|
|28||Jonnu Smith, NE vs. JAX|
|29||Adam Trautman, NO vs. CAR|
|30||Tommy Tremble, CAR @ NO|