The best thing about how bad the tight end position is in Fantasy is that you can make a case for just about anyone as a streaming option. And that's highlighted in the season opener, with Rob Gronkowski, Blake Jarwin, O.J. Howard, and Dalton Schultz all having a case as the best tight end option.
Gronkowski is probably the easiest to make a case for, even if it's really just a non-PPR case. Gronkowski has scored touchdowns at a higher rate than just about any pass catcher in history. HIs Buccaneers have the second-highest implied point total for Week 1. One touchdown is generally enough to call it a good week at tight end, especially in non-PPR.
Jarwin and Howard are coming off injuries, so I can understand if you'd rather see it from them first. But I like their season-long upside better than Gronkowski's. Jarwin is the most dynamic tight end on a team that has produced a borderline No. 1 each of the past two seasons. Howard was outproducing Gronkowski before he got hurt last year and may still be one of the most athletic tight ends in the league.
The case for Schultz? Jarwin is coming off an injury and Schultz just finished 2020 as a borderline No. 1 tight end with much worse quarterback play. You should start anyone over the top eight in the projections below, but after that it's pretty much a free-for-all and this game should be a shootout.
Here's everything else you need to know about tight end in Week 1:
Week 1 TE Preview
The following players are not being projected to play Week 1 at this time. Here's what it means:
Numbers to Know
- 11.5 -- PPR Fantasy points per game for Noah Fant in the 12 complete games he played with a QB. That would have been TE5 last year.
- 481 -- The 49ers only allowed 481 yards to tight ends all year last year. Everyone should still start T.J. Hockenson, but if he struggles we may have to think twice about Dallas Goedert next week.
- 7.0 -- We expect Logan Thomas' 7.0 aDOT will get a boost with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center.
- 5.5 -- Austin Hooper averaged 5.5 targets per game with Odell Beckham on the field. That's enough to be a low-end TE1.
- 174 -- Evan Engram's 174 PPR Fantasy points as a rookie are the best of the modern era. Kyle Pitts will need to best that to justify his ADP.
- 138 -- The Titans threw 138 passes to their tight ends last year. If Anthony Firkser could earn 70% of those, he'd be in play as a starting tight end.
Matchups that matter
Waiver Wire Targets
It was a weird year for Hooper last year. He had an appendectomy, his team played two games in horrible weather, and his efficiency cratered. But he's still just 26 years old, there's no reason to think the surgery would still impact him, and hopefully the weather is better in 2021. He can't likely bounce back all the way to pre-2020 levels in this offense, but last year's volume with his career efficiency would be 70-716-5. That would play.
TEN Tennessee • #86
Age: 26 • Experience: 4 yrs.
There are plenty of targets available in Tennessee, we just have to see what share goes to Firkser. If nothing else, he will be a touchdown -or-bust streamer and there should be a lot of touchdowns in the Titans Week 1 matchup with the Cardinals.
Blake Jarwin TE
DAL Dallas • #89
Age: 27 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Jarwin was a popular pick as a sleeper in 2020 but was lost for the year to a Week 1 injury. He's all the way back and appears to have beaten out Dalton Schultz for the TE1 role. Each of the past two years the Cowboys have produced a borderline TE1 season with Schultz and Jason Witten. Jarwin at 100% has more upside than either of them. I would rather stash Jarwin in Week 1, but he's a fine starter in a jam.
SF San Francisco • #85
Age: 28 • Experience: 5 yrs.
There's enough price difference between Kittle and Kelce that I'm comfortable with Kittle, especially since he gets a bad Lions defense. Some people have target concerns because of Brandon Aiyuk and Deebo Samuel, but last year Kittle didn't seem impacted by either of them when he was healthy. I believe it's likely Aiyuk or Samuel who have the target concerns, not Kittle.
Read everything I said in the streamer portion of the article, then add in Hooper's cheap price, low projected roster rate, and the fact that the Chiefs gave up the fifth-most PPR Fantasy points to tight ends last season. Now go put Hooper in your GPP lineup.