Tier 1: The One and Only

Travis Kelce (KC) TE1

     Kelce stands alone. Weekly difference-maker at the position on the NFL’s most powerful attack. Could still make the argument for his selection in the first-round, even with Tyreek Hill back in the mix. (I prefer him around the 15- or 16-spot, however).

Tier 2: Weekly Starters and High-End TE1’s

George Kittle (SF) TE2
Zach Ertz (PHI) TE3
O.J. Howard (TB) TE4
Hunter Henry (LAC) TE5
Evan Engram (NYG) TE6

     Kittle should naturally regress given the records he broke in 2018. Ertz is another regression candidation, although that Philadelphia offense is still loaded. Howard, along with Henry, are my two favorite tight end breakout candidates. Engram should be the obvious beneficiary after the Giants inexplicably shipped Odell Beckham Jr. off to Cleveland.

Tier 3: Sprinkling in TE1 Weeks

Jared Cook (NO) TE7
Vance McDonald (PIT) TE8
Delanie Walker (TEN) TE9
Austin Hooper (ATL) TE10
Mark Andrews (BAL) TE11
David Njoku (CLE) TE12
Jordan Reed (WAS) TE13
Chris Herndon (NYJ) TE14
Greg Olsen (CAR) TE15

     Andrews has all the offseason headlines and growing rapport with signal-caller Lamar Jackson. Reed might be healthy, we’re told, but already took a big hit in a preseason contest (documented concussion number seven or eight — very scary). This is probably high for Herndon given the suspension, but I like the talent and liked what I saw last year in terms of connection with the quarterback.

Tier 4: TE2’s and Some Mostly Uncomfortable Weekends

Kyle Rudolph (MIN) TE16
T.J. Hockenson (DET) TE17
Jimmy Graham (GB) TE18
Trey Burton (CHI) TE19
Noah Fant (DEN) TE20
Darren Waller (OAK) TE21
Tyler Eifert (CIN) TE22
Eric Ebron (IND) TE23
Dallas Goedert (PHI) TE24
Gerald Everett (LAR) TE25
Jack Doyle (IND) TE26
Will Dissly (SEA) TE27
Jordan Thomas (HOU) TE28

     Hockenson and Fant were coveted, high-round selections, but we know about the rookie TE1 learning curve narrative. Burton was overdrafted last year, and his quarterback might not be very good. Waller is getting the chance to fill Cook’s shoes, and should get plenty of looks underneath given who Oakland has split out wide. Eifert could’ve been special if he ever had health on his side. Everett is a sneaky breakout candidate in a high-volume Los Angeles offense.

Tier 5: A Couple of Athletes and Desperation (Like, Really Desperate) Streamers

Mike Gesicki (MIA) TE29
Jason Witten (DAL) TE30
Geoff Swaim (JAX) TE31
Cameron Brate (TB) TE32
Matt LaCosse (NE) TE33
Ian Thomas (CAR) TE34
Ricky Seals-Jones (ARI) TE35
Charles Clay (ARI) TE36
Vernon Davis (WAS) TE37

     Thomas is a favorite, but old man Greg Olsen is still playing ball and the rest of the Panthers’ pass attack is coming along nicely too, it appears. Tough sledding for Thomas. Clay resurfaced in Arizona where the Cardinals have overhauled their pass-catching corp. Davis is battling with a maybe-healthy Jordan Reed for TE1 snaps in an iffy Washington offense.

Tier 6: Darts

Dawson Knox (BUF) TE38
Josh Oliver (JAX) TE39
Jace Sternberger (GB) TE40
C.J. Uzomah (CIN) TE41
Demetrius Harris (CLE) TE42
Tyler Higbee (LAR) TE43
Mo Alie-Cox (IND) TE44
Jonnu Smith (TEN) TE45
Ben Watson (NE) TE46
Irv Smith Jr. (MIN) TE47
Hayden Hurst (BAL) TE48
Jesse James (DET) TE49
Adam Shaheen (CHI) TE50

     Sternberger has to be the favorite here, given who he’s attached to. Alie-Cox got some legit offseason buzz, but now that Andrew Luck has rode off into the sunset, it’ll be quiet once more I assume. Smith’s a legit athlete, stuck behind a target hog TE1 in Walker, and we’re banking on the Marcus Mariota next-step project working out.

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