Anticipating the departures of Jimmy Graham, Jared Cook and Kyle Rudolph, I got pretty excited about some young tight ends at the end of the 2020 season. Cole Kmet and Irv Smith, in particular, both shot up my Dynasty rankings.
Then I ran projections.
Neither Kmet or Smith landed in the top 18 in the first run of my 2021 projections, which probably shouldn't be much of a surprise. Tight ends can take a long time to produce as Fantasy starters, and neither Kmet nor Smith has shown us more than a flash of starter production, even for a tight end.
None of this is to say you should be giving up on your young tight ends. But it is a reminder that prioritizing a young tight end means you need another starter until they finally hit. In 2020 that could have been Logan Thomas, Eric Ebron or even Jimmy Graham. Those aren't the types of names that are going to rank very high in the rankings below because of their age, but they can be useful if you have a prospect on your roster who you shouldn't yet be starting.
This is also a reminder when it comes to Kyle Pitts. Yes, Pitts is a much better prospect than Smith or Kmet, but former first round picks Noah Fant, Hayden Hurst, and T.J. Hockenson have illustrated the growing pains at the position as well. Don't shy away from Pitts in rookie drafts this spring, but don't necessarily count on him to be your starter either. Most importantly, don't sell low if he disappoints as a rookie. Most tight ends do.
Here are my updated tight end Dynasty rankings: