(CBS Local/CBS Philly)- Training camps have begun for some NFL teams, while the rest kick theirs off over the course of this week. As the players stretch and warm up for the coming season, fantasy owners begin their prep for their upcoming league drafts. After a several-month layoff with no football, it’s understandable if your knowledge isn’t what it should be. So, we’re here to help you get back up to speed, as you lay your plans for taking home that fantasy championship belt this season.
With the top three offensive skill position groups already covered, it’s now time to take a look at the tight end spot. This is one that can be a more flexible position on the roster with multiple guys filling in during the course of the season if you want to go the streaming route. Or, if you feel the need to have a definite top guy, there are certainly a few must-haves. It’s all a matter of how you prioritize your draft strategy.
As we have with the previous rankings this year, we’ll use CBSSports.com projections for the upcoming season. We’ll list the top 15 and break down the differences between the top five based on standard scoring. We will provide the player’s expected PPR points and average draft position (ADP) as well.
1) Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
Projected 2019 stats- 92 receptions, 1,264 yards, 9 TD, 10.7 FPPG (16.4 PPR) ADP: 17.83
Kelce takes over the top spot with the retirement of Patriots tight end Rob Gronkowski largely because of the style of play for the Chiefs offense. Kelce and Tyreek Hill get the lion’s share of the targets, and Kelce is a bit more of a vertical threat than Ertz. Overall, either guy is going to give you a solid return on investment, though Kelce is going pretty high right now, on average the fifth pick of the second round in a 12-team draft. That said, after posting 11.9 FPPG last season, it’s easy to justify that draft position if you already have your top running back or receiver locked in.
2) Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
Projected 2019 stats- 105 receptions, 1,078 yards, 8 TD, 9.1 FPPG (15.7 PPR) ADP: 32.22
Ertz is the favorite target of QB Carson Wentz, and he hauled in a record-breaking 116 passes last season as a result. However, he turned those 116 catches into a 10-yard-per-catch average, which is strong, but doesn’t offer the same explosive nature of Kelce or George Kittle, for that matter. The other concern with Ertz is the Eagles’ addition of wide receiver DeSean Jackson. Second-year tight end Dallas Goeddert is also expected to break out. Another concern is the addition of receiver J.J. Arcega-Whiteside, who could take away some of Ertz’s red-zone targets, as he shined in those sessions during minicamp. Still, the computers expect Ertz to put out strong numbers this year, and with an end-of-the-third-round ADP, he’s a solid choice.
3) Eric Ebron, Indianapolis Colts
Projected 2019 stats- 65 receptions, 716 yards, 10 TD, 7.9 FPPG (12 PPR) ADP: 39.67
Ebron broke out in a big way last season. The former Lions first-round pick had been a disappointment in terms of production in the first few years of his career leading to his release in Detroit before he signed on with the Colts. He flourished as Andrew Luck’s red-zone target, and the same is expected this season. While 13 touchdowns again is unlikely, the projections have him picking up double-digits and still offering high upside as your team’s starting tight end.
4) O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Projected 2019 stats- 62 receptions, 911 yards, 7 TD, 7.6 FPPG (11.5 PPR) ADP: 59.30
This one may surprise folks who didn’t pay much attention to Tampa Bay last season, but Howard ranked 10th at the position in fantasy points overall last season and was fifth in fantasy points per game (8.6 in standard leagues). Now entering his third year in the league, Howard is a candidate for a breakout year, considering that his production last year came in just eight games. But, with Cameron Brate on the roster, his impact may be mitigated.
5) George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
Projected 2019 stats- 75 receptions, 1,085 yards, 4 TD, 7.6 FPPG (12.3 PPR) ADP: 63.96
Kittle was a force in the 49ers during their disappointing season last year, despite mainly catching passes from Nick Mullens and C.J. Beathard. One would hope that a full season of Jimmy Garoppolo would only help to improve Kittle’s numbers. But there’s a reason the projections are slightly calmer on Kittle this season. Namely, he’s no longer the sole viable pass-catching option on offense. The team added Jordan Matthews (reliable if unspectacular), drafted Deebo Samuel, and is hoping for steps forward from Trent Taylor and Dante Pettis. Kittle should still have a strong year, but his otherworldly numbers from last season may come back down to Earth.
6) Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints
Projected 2019 stats- 70 receptions, 852 yards, 7 TD, 7.4 FPPG (11.8 PPR) ADP: 69.04
7) Evan Engram, New York Giants
Projected 2019 stats- 67 receptions, 839 yards, 5 TD, 6.6 FPPG (10.8 PPR) ADP: 68.55
8) Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers
Projected 2019 stats- 57 receptions, 737 yards, 5 TD, 5.9 FPPG (9.4 PPR) ADP: 68.57
9) David Njoku, Cleveland Browns
Projected 2019 stats- 60 receptions, 691 yards, 5 TD, 5.6 FPPG (9.4 PPR) ADP: 89.13
10) Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens
Projected 2019 stats- 42 receptions, 629 yards, 4 TD, 4.9 FPPG (7.6 PPR) ADP: 150.18
11) Austin Hooper, Atlanta Falcons
Projected 2019 stats- 67 receptions, 640 yards, 4 TD, 4.9 FPPG (9.1 PPR) ADP: 122
12) Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
Projected 2019 stats- 54 receptions, 610 yards, 3 TD, 4.7 FPPG (8.1 PPR) ADP: 131.80
13) Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh Steelers
Projected 2019 stats- 55 receptions, 657 yards, 3 TD, 4.7 FPPG (8.1 PPR) ADP: 126.24
14) Jimmy Graham, Green Bay Packers
Projected 2019 stats- 57 receptions, 623 yards, 4 TD, 4.7 FPPG (8.3 PPR) ADP: 133.26
15) Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins
Projected 2019 stats- 64 receptions, 656 yards, 3 TD, 4.7 FPPG (8.7 PPR) ADP: 115.35