Tight end tiers are an important weapon in your fantasy football arsenal. Instead of the rigid approach of fantasy football rankings, tiers allow you more flexibility on draft day, which is key to dominating your opponents. With a tier-based approach, you can see how each player stacks up at his respective position. 

Tight end is still thin this season. As you’ll see in the tiers below, you don’t want to wait too long on draft day because the position dries up fast. But don’t worry, these tiers will help you attack the tight end at the exact right time in your 2021 fantasy football drafts. Let’s take a look at the 2021 fantasy football tight end tiers. Of course, don’t forget that you can check out all of our fantasy football rankings and fantasy football projections.

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Fantasy Football Tiers - Tight End Rankings

A look at my TE rankings broken down by tiers for the 2021 fantasy football season.

Tier 1 – Big 3

Travis Kelce
Darren Waller
George Kittle

You probably don’t need any explanation here, so I’m not going to bore you with stats you already know. These two are awesome. But the bigger question is whether they’re worth drafting at their current ADP. You’re going to have to spend a first-round pick on Kelce and likely a second-round pick for both Waller and Kittle this year. While having one of these guys will certainly provide a weekly advantage at the position, is that advantage enough to warrant a premium pick? I tend to lean no there, as there is value to be had in the TE wheelhouse below. That said, I wouldn’t talk you out of picking Kelce, Waller or Kittle.

Tier 2 – High-end TE1s

Kyle Pitts
T.J. Hockenson
Mark Andrews

These three come in about two rounds after the elite tier in ADP in a bit of a no-man’s land. Rookie tight ends don’t tend to be very good fantasy options, but Pitts is a good bet to buck that trend, especially with Julio Jones no longer in Atlanta. There’s so much value at wide receiver in this range of the draft that it’s very difficult to go tight end. That said, Hockenson is coming off a breakout year and figures to be the No. 1 target in Detroit. While Andrews came back to the pack slightly last season, be still proved to be a rock-solid TE1 and comes with a very high ceiling.

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Tier 3 – The TE1 wheelhouse

Logan Thomas
Noah Fant
Tyler Higbee

If you miss on tight end earlier in your drafts, this is the group to target for upside starting in the seventh round. As for Thomas, he showed that he isn’t a converted quarterback. This dude is a legit tight end and now has the added benefit of having a competent quarterback passing him the football. Fant is dripping with upside, though it should be noted that there are a lot of mouths to feed in the Denver passing game and the Broncos have a very iffy quarterback situation. Higbee was a 2020 breakout candidate who didn’t hit, but he’s in a great position to produce with Gerald Everett out of the mix and Matthew Stafford now under center.

Tier 4a – High-ceiling options

Dallas Goedert
Robert Tonyan
Jonnu Smith
Mike Gesicki
Gerald Everett

The talent pool thins out very quickly this year, so you might as well shoot for upside if you’re waiting at the position. Initially, the Patriots tight ends looked like a tossup, but I’m more willing to take a shot on Smith’s high ceiling with Hunter Henry banged up in camp. Smith also stands to benefit from more stability in the passing game with Mac Jones know cemented as the starter.

Goedert may still have Zach Ertz around in Philly, but there’s no denying his physical ability and upside. Tonyan will likely regress in the touchdown department, but he’ll still benefit from having Aaron Rodgers throwing him the ball. Gesicki has flashed a massive weekly ceiling, though he only figures to be the third target at best in the Dolphins passing game with Will Fuller and DeVante Parker inked in ahead of him. Everett may be splitting the workload with Will Dissly in Seattle, but his athletic upside is appealing, especially with Russell Wilson throwing him the ball.

Tier 4b – Low-ceiling options 

Rob Gronkowski
Cole Kmet

These players are going in the same range of drafts as the upside options, but they’re much less appealing given their lower fantasy ceilings. Gronkowski is an all-time great and comes with a reasonable fantasy floor, but he’s also much more limited than he was earlier in his career and is also pretty far down the target pecking order in Tampa. Kmet surged down the stretch last season, but we question whether there will be enough targets for him to be anything more a TE2 streamer option. 

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Tier 5a – Late-round darts

Evan Engram
Hunter Henry

If you’re going to take a stab at a late-round option, it should probably be one of these two players. Both of them offer upside, so you get some bang for your buck. Of course, they also come with a lot of uncertainty. Engram is already hurt and has a lengthy injury history. With that said, the injury isn’t believed to be major. Likewise, Henry is also banged up. He’s has been impressive at points during his career, but he’s always seemingly one play away from an extended absence. 

Tier 5b – Late-round avoids

Adam Trautman
Zach Ertz
Jared Cook
Blake Jarwin
Austin Hooper
Anthony Firkser
Eric Ebron
Dawson Knox

You know these names well if you’ve been around the fantasy football block, but that doesn’t mean you should draft them. There’s almost no ceiling with these four, so leave them on the board.

Tier 6 – Watch list streamers

Juwan Johnson
Christopher Herndon
Dan Arnold
C.J. Uzomah
O.J. Howard
Mo Alie-Cox
Tyler Conklin
Donald Parham
Tyler Kroft

This group isn’t draftable in regular-sized drafts, but you should keep your eye on them early in the season. All nine are positioned to potentially emerge at some point.

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