Week 1 Fantasy TE Rankings: Must-starts, sleepers, potential busts at tight end

Week 1 is always pretty vanilla when it comes to rankings, no matter the position. Because we don’t have a good grasp on new offensive systems or defensive matchups, we have to judge mostly on talent and track record. As such, our Week 1 fantasy TE rankings are pretty boring — George Kittle, Travis Kelce, Zach Ertz, shrug, yawn, snore. You know how it goes. Of course, you also know that a sleeper like Noah Fant could have a 40-yard touchdown or potential breakout like Mike Gesicki could get 10 targets, but unless you drafted them as your starter, chances are you have a more proven tight end option when making your start ’em, sit ’em decisions.

Tight end is always a tricky position because “bad defenses” might do a decent job at limiting TEs (possibly because RBs or WRs are running all over them) and good defenses might be most vulnerable against them. We looked at last year’s fantasy points per game (FPPG) allowed to TEs, but obviously we can only take so much from last year. Arizona was historically bad, while Washington, the Raiders, Seahawks, and Titans were in a close race for second worst. The Browns, Bucs, Cowboys,Texans, and Jaguars rounded out the top 10. 

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | D/ST | Kicker

Some bona fide studs are facing those 10 teams, starting with our top four — all of whom would likely be the top four regardless of opponent. Hayden Hurst (vs. Seahawks), Tyler Higbee (vs. Cowboys), and Jared Cook (vs. Buccaneers) all get slight bumps up, but, again, they were all likely to be started anyway. 

Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

Two of the TEs facing a a top-five defense against TEs last year — Ravens, Vikings, Eagles, Jets, Panthers — were likely drafted a starters. We still have Darren Waller (@ Panthers) in the top 10 because he’s a targets machine, but Austin Hooper (@ Ravens) has dropped because of not only the matchup, but also questions about his role in a new offense. 

Unless you have a top guy (and sometimes even if you have a top guy), TE tends to be a boom-or-bust position. Given how little we know about players and teams heading into Week 1 this year, you can make a case for virtually anyone in our top 20 to be started this week, depending on your other options. Our advice is to play it safe if you have a top-10 guy, but if you’re one of the owners in your league who really waited at the position, go with your gut and hope for the best. It’s 2020 — what could go wrong?

Note: We’ll continue to update our tight end rankings to throughout the week, so check back for updates and individual player analysis.

Week 1 Fantasy TE Rankings (Standard)

These rankings are for non-PPR leagues

Rank Player
1 George Kittle, SF vs. ARI
2 Travis Kelce, KC vs. HOU
3 Zach Ertz, PHI @ WAS
4 Mark Andrews, BAL vs. CLE
5 Hunter Henry, LAC @ CIN
6 Hayden Hurst, ATL vs. SEA
7 Evan Engram, NYG vs. PIT
8 Tyler Higbee, LAR vs. DAL
9 Jared Cook, NO vs. TB
10 Darren Waller, LV @ CAR
11 Jonnu Smith, TEN @ DEN
12 Jack Doyle, IND @ JAX
13 Eric Ebron, PIT @ NYG
14 Austin Hooper, CLE @ BAL
15 Rob Gronkowski, TB @ NO
16 Noah Fant, DEN vs. TEN
17 Ian Thomas, CAR vs. LV
18 T.J. Hockenson, DET vs. CHI
19 Mike Gesicki, MIA @ NE
20 Dallas Goedert, PHI @ WAS
21 Greg Olsen, SEA @ ATL
22 Chris Herndon, NYJ @ BUF
23 Blake Jarwin, DAL @ LAR
24 O.J. Howard, TB @ NO
25 Irv Smith Jr., MIN vs. GB
26 Dawson Knox, BUF vs. NYJ
27 C.J. Uzomah, CIN vs. LAC
28 Kyle Rudolph, MIN vs. GB
29 Darren Fells, HOU @ KC
30 Tyler Eifert, JAX vs. IND
31 Jace Sternberger, GB @ MIN
32 Taysom Hill, NO vs. TB
33 Jimmy Graham, CHI @ DET