This is a good year to invest in two tight ends on Draft Day. There are a lot of quality late-round options, and drafting one could pay big dividends by the end of the season.
You know the guys at the top of the tight end rank list with Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Mark Andrews and Zach Ertz, and they should be awesome if they stay healthy. All of those guys will be drafted no later than Round 5.
The next group of guys based on the CBS Sports Average Draft Position data also seem like capable starters with Evan Engram, Darren Waller, Hunter Henry, Rob Gronkowski and Tyler Higbee, and hopefully they deliver positive production. Those guys are all being selected between Rounds 6 and 8.
Austin Hooper and Jared Cook are the next two tight ends off the board according to ADP, but I don't want to draft either guy based on their price tag. Hooper is a bust candidate going from Atlanta to Cleveland, and Cook should lose value with Emmanuel Sanders now in New Orleans. There's no way I'm drafting Hooper in Round 8 or Cook in Round 9.
Instead, I would rather target one or two of the tight ends being drafted after pick No. 100 overall. And I would have no problem drafting one of these late-round options even if I already selected Kelce, Kittle, Andrews, Ertz, Engram, Waller, Henry, Gronkowski or Higbee.
Imagine in 2019 if you drafted Andrews or Waller, who were both taken after pick No. 140 overall. Both were top five PPR tight ends last year.
The hope is we can find the next Andrews or Waller -- or maybe more options -- this season. Let's take a look at these 15 tight ends based on my rankings going after pick No. 100 overall according to the CBS Sports ADP.
Hurst is the No. 12 tight end based on ADP, and he's being drafted at No. 107.8 overall. He's stepping into a big role with the Falcons now that Hooper is gone, and hopefully this is the season Hurst takes off. For the past two seasons, Hooper averaged 93 targets, 73 catches, 724 yards and five touchdowns for the Falcons. That's the role Hurst is inheriting now as the starter in Atlanta. Hurst has struggled to produce in two seasons with the Ravens, mostly due to injuries in 2018 and playing behind Andrews and Nick Boyle. He'll be behind Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley when it comes to targets, but this is his time to shine. Matt Ryan will hopefully find that Hurst is a quality weapon, and he has the chance to be a No. 1 Fantasy tight end this year.
The Cowboys are loaded with weapons after adding CeeDee Lamb to a roster that already includes Amari Cooper, Michael Gallup, Ezekiel Elliott and Jarwin. But they also have a lot of production to replace with Randall Cobb and Jason Witten gone, and that duo accounted for 118 catches for 1,357 yards and seven touchdowns on 166 targets in 2019. While Lamb should help fill most of that void, so will Jarwin if things stay the same for Dak Prescott and this passing attack. Jarwin might not have the highest ceiling with all those mouths to feed in Dallas, but he could turn out to be a low-end starter in all Fantasy leagues as he replaces Witten this year. Jarwin also had 41 targets of his own in 2019, so he could be looking at 90-plus targets this year. He's a great fallback option at tight end based on his ADP at 185.7 overall as the No. 23 tight end off the board. That's larceny if you can get him that late.
I originally had Fant pegged as a breakout candidate this season before the NFL Draft, but after the Broncos selected Jerry Jeudy and K.J. Hamler to go with Courtland Sutton, it appears like the ceiling for Fant could be somewhat capped. That said, I still plan to draft Fant as a low-end starter in all leagues, and his ADP puts him at TE13 at 113.2 overall. He profiles as a tight end with star potential, and we saw Fant flash some big performances as a rookie in 2019 with three games with at least 11 PPR points. He's capable of more, and he should develop a solid rapport with Drew Lock. Hopefully, the talented receiving corps around him will open up passing lanes, and he could prove to be Denver's second-best pass catcher behind Sutton.
An excellent tight end to wait for this season is Gesicki, who had a solid sophomore campaign in 2019 and could improve this year. His ADP is TE14 at 126.3 overall. Gesicki should be the No. 2 or 3 option in the passing game depending on what happens with Preston Williams, behind No. 1 receiver DeVante Parker. Gesicki stood out last year for the Dolphins when he scored at least 11 PPR points in four of his final six games. He showed a solid rapport with Ryan Fitzpatrick, and hopefully Fitzpatrick starts more games this year than Tua Tagovailoa. We'll see if the change in offensive coordinator to Chan Gaily helps or hurts Gesicki, but hopefully the Dolphins keep their best players on the field often -- and involved. Gesicki is a solid, low-end starting tight end to target at his ADP.
His ADP is TE15 at No. 129.6 overall, and I like Smith as a breakout candidate this year. Delanie Walker is gone, and now is the time for Smith to be a star. He should be the second-best receiving option for the Titans behind A.J. Brown, and he's worth drafting as a No. 1 Fantasy tight end. Titans coach Mike Vrabel is excited for Smith, saying at the NFL Combine that "we're going to try to feature the players that can help us win, and Jonnu is one of those." Over his final nine games in the regular season in 2019, with Walker out with an ankle injury, Smith scored at least 11 PPR points in four of those outings. He also had at least five targets in four of those games, and the Titans gave him three carries over that span. And Smith scored a touchdown in the divisional-round upset against Baltimore. Smith might not become a top five Fantasy tight end this year, but he could be a top-10 option.
Hockenson looked like a star in Week 1 last year when he had six catches for 131 yards and a touchdown on nine targets against Arizona. We later found out that was just the Cardinals being awful against opposing tight ends. Hockenson quickly faded after that, catching one more touchdown and going over 50 receiving yards one other time, before ending up on injured reserve in Week 14 with a bad ankle. I like his chances to rebound in 2020 with a healthy Stafford, and Hockenson has the chance to be a sophomore sensation this year. Hopefully, the ankle injury he suffered last year is behind him, and he's a great value pick as the No. 16 tight end at 130.3 overall. He should be a star for more than just one week in 2020.
Doyle should benefit in a big way with Philip Rivers joining the Colts. Rivers has a great history of throwing to his tight ends, including future Hall of Famer Antonio Gates and a standout in Henry during his time with the Chargers. Doyle isn't on their level as a playmaker, but he did have a productive season in 2017 with 11.3 PPR points per game on 80 catches, 690 yards and four touchdowns on 108 targets. That's a realistic expectation this season for Doyle, who should be among the top pass catchers for the Colts with T.Y. Hilton, Michael Pittman Jr., Nyheim Hines and Parris Campbell. Doyle is a good option to wait for based on his ADP as the No. 18 tight end at 154.6 overall, and he should be considered a low-end starter in all leagues.
On any other team, Goedert is likely considered one of the top Fantasy tight ends and best players at his position. But not with the Eagles. Ertz limits the upside for Goedert, but we got a taste of his potential in 2019 when he was actually the No. 10 PPR tight end. He had 58 catches for 607 yards and five touchdowns on 87 targets, and he was a key contributor for Philadelphia when the receiving corps was ravaged by injuries. We'll see what the Eagles receivers look like this year with Alshon Jeffery (foot) coming back at some point, and DeSean Jackson should be healthy. And Philadelphia added a talented rookie in the first round of the NFL Draft in Jalen Reagor. Factor in Miles Sanders and Boston Scott, and there are a lot of mouths to feed. But Goedert is oozing with talent, and he's worth drafting at his ADP as the No. 17 tight end at 137.4 overall.
Thomas is now the main tight end for Carolina with Greg Olsen gone, and that's been a good thing for his Fantasy outlook over the past two seasons. In the last six games that Olsen has missed over the past two years due to injury, Thomas has scored at least 14 PPR points in four of them. We hope Carolina will have more consistent quarterback play in 2020 with Teddy Bridgerwater, and Thomas should be among the top options in the passing game with D.J. Moore, Curtis Samuel, Robby Anderson and Christian McCaffrey. And new offensive coordinator Joe Brady should like involving Thomas as much as possible. He's a great late-round flier as the No. 22 tight end at 169.7 overall.
Herndon only appeared in one game in 2019 because of a four-game suspension and a rib injury, but he's expected to return this season at 100 percent and play a prominent role. Ryan Griffin was the Jets' top tight end last year, and he scored five touchdowns in the nine games he played with Sam Darnold in 2019. And Herndon is a much better talent than Griffin. You're not going to draft Herndon as a No. 1 Fantasy tight end, but he is someone to gamble on with a late-round pick as a No. 2 option based on his ADP at 160.9 overall as TE19. He has plenty of potential if Adam Gase features him this year.
The news of Devin Funchess opting out this season, following the departure of Jimmy Graham in Green Bay, should make Sternberger a prime target for Aaron Rodgers. I would list Sternberger as the No. 3 option in the passing game behind Davante Adams and Allen Lazard, and Sternberger could be a surprise Fantasy option at his ADP as the No. 27 tight end at 197.3 overall. He had no catches in his rookie campaign, and the Packers aren't expected to be a pass-happy team in 2020. But Rodgers is still one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL, and he needs playmakers in the passing game. Sternberger could be needed -- and successful -- in his sophomore campaign.
The last time Ebron changed teams was 2018 when he went from Detroit to Indianapolis, and he was a Fantasy star that season. He had career highs in targets (110), catches (66), yards (750) and touchdowns (13), and it was fun to see him finish as the No. 4 PPR tight end. Now, he's not doing that again in 2020 going to Pittsburgh, especially since the Steelers have a crowded receiving corps with JuJu Smith-Schuster, Diontae Johnson, James Washington and Chase Claypool. But Ben Roethlisberger should find Ebron to be a quality weapon, and he could find his way into a quality role, especially as a red-zone threat. He's not a bad investment as the No. 21 tight end at 168.2 overall.
While rookie wide receiver Justin Jefferson seems like the logical choice to help replace the departed Stefon Diggs, don't be surprised if Smith fills that role for the Vikings. And he could be excellent if he gets the majority of the 94 targets Diggs leaves behind. Smith had some good moments as the No. 2 tight end in Minnesota last year behind Kyle Rudolph, and Smith finished with 36 catches for 311 yards and two touchdowns on 47 targets. If he can get to the 80-plus target threshold then he could be a low-end starter in all leagues, especially in deeper formats. I'd be thrilled to draft him at his ADP as the No. 28 tight end at 203.3 overall.
Olsen should be the No. 3 receiving option in Seattle behind Tyler Lockett and D.K. Metcalf, especially as long as Will Dissly (Achilles) is out. And if Olsen, even at 35, gets a healthy amount of targets, then he could be a surprise Fantasy option this year. In 2019 with Carolina, he had five games with at least seven targets, and he averaged 15.0 PPR points in those outings. I'd rather take my chances with a younger tight end this season than Olsen, but his role in Seattle could be valuable if Dissly is slow in his recovery. He's not a bad Fantasy option in deeper leagues as the No. 24 tight end at 186.9 overall.
The Cardinals have plenty of mouths to feed with DeAndre Hopkins, Christian Kirk, Larry Fitzgerald and Kenyan Drake, but don't be surprised if Kyler Murray uses Arnold as a surprise weapon. He finished 2019 on a high note with four catches for 76 yards and a touchdown on six targets in Week 17 at the Rams, but he scored two touchdowns in three games in Arizona last year. He doesn't have an ADP on CBS Sports yet, but he's not a bad second tight end in 14-team leagues or larger. We could be talking about Arnold as a waiver-wire option sooner rather than later this year.