Fantasy Football Today: Dave Richard’s TE levels and strategies for 2021, plus Dynasty levels for beyond

Among the “Famous last words…” of a fantasy analyst, “It’s the end of the year tight, that’s good!” it must be quite high up there. It’s like we collectively try to get our point across every year, and it never works. And, personally, I’m done with that.

That’s why I’m so high Travis Kelce, George Kittleand Darren Waller. If this is really the year where we have more than a few useful tight ends, it doesn’t necessarily make much sense to target elite guys in the first or second round. Sure, these guys can produce like WR1, but if there were, say, 10 tight ends you could rely on for consistent 12-14 ppg production in PPR, the advantage you get from the Big Three begins to dissipate.

And hey, maybe this will be the year! Kyle Pitts is a once-in-a-generation (or two) talent. TJ Hockenson is poised to be the clear No.1 option in the Lions passing game. Mark Andrews could take a step forward if the Ravens’ passing game follows suit. Dallas Goedert, Noah Fan …well, you can always talk about yourself somebody.

But why should this year be any different? At this time last year, Jonnu Smith, Hayden Hurst, Mike Gesicki, Blake Jarwin, Hockenson, Fant, et al., were all about to take a leap. And what really happened was that Kelce and Waller outclassed everyone else at the position by over 100 PPR points, with #3 Robert Tonyan scoring just enough to overtake the No. 37 WR.

We talked about the close final position and standings on Thursday’s episode of the Fantasy football today podcast, with Dave Richard and Heath Cummings breaking down their levels for the post, and Heath released his tight Dynasty final levels, focusing on Irv Smith and Cole Kmettwo players who could be well placed to make a leap this season – or who could join the long list of players who have never been up to snuff.

Below, you’ll find Dave’s full standings as well as his strategy for approaching the draft position this season. You heard my thoughts, but maybe Dave is a little more optimistic. It wouldn’t take much!

Dave Richard’s TE Levels and Strategy

Last year, 10 tight ends averaged 10 PPR points per game. It’s not good. And last year, only four averaged more than 11 PPR points per game. It’s really not good.

This is a position fresh out of the deli. It’s hard to be happy with a tight end you’re going to draft in Round 11…or Round 9…or Round 7. Does that mean you have to pick a tight end in Round 2? ? Or even before Round 2?! This is something you will need to answer before writing because it will impact your listing.

You already know that the running backs are in good numbers, at least in the beginning. Receivers and quarterbacks are definitely plenty. However, if you pass a tight end at the start of the round, you will have to get lucky when you come across a difference maker. Plus, there’s no doubt you’ll have an edge setting a formation with a tight end that produces like a top wide receiver against some jabroni.

Worth taking Kelce with a late first/early second-round pick, or Darren Waller or George Kittle with a late second/early third-round pick. You would still have other early round picks to use on running backs or any other position you want. Consider committing to drafting one of these three drafts on draft day.

The extreme alternative is to wait and draft one or two tight ends that have good potential and favorable matchups to start the season. Young and hungry guys like Irv Smith, Adam Trautman, Jonnu Smith and Cole Kmet match the profile. If the one you draft succeeds, you’re on the easy way. If the one you draft breathes, keep chasing the tight ends of the waiver wire, where gems like Logan Thomas and Tonyan were dug up in 2020. Waiting for tight ends gets you stars in other positions, but it also sets a low bar for expectations and usually involves a lot of maintenance during the season.

There’s a middle ground: Aim for one of the tight ends in the Weekly Starters tier. Mark Andrews has been mostly reliable over the past two seasons, TJ Hockenson is becoming the Lions’ No. 1 target in the passing game, Kyle Pitts has more advantages than anyone named in this paragraph, and Dallas Goedert numbers to be the best tight end for the Eagles. They will do good business over the first three tight ends and have a chance to produce acceptably.

DAVE’S FAVORITE STRATEGY: Go for the top three tight ends based on your draft standing, but be open to drafting one of the top seven tight ends at a fair value. Trying to steal one won’t happen; they are too much in demand. If you’re worried about missing out on great wide receivers or quarterbacks, be confident knowing you can find one later on.


Travis Kelce


20th-30th OVERALL
Darren Waller
George Kittle


TJ Hockenson
Mark Andrews
Kyle Pitts
Dallas Goedert


ROUNDS 9, 10
Irv Smith
Noah Fan
Jonnu Smith
Robert Tonyan


Adam Trautman
Logan Thomas
Mike Gesicki
Zach Ertz
Cole Kmet
Rob Gronkowski
Eric Ebron
Jared Cook
Evan Engram
Gerald Everett
Tyler Higbee
henry hunter

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