Fantasy TE Rankings Week 1: Who to start, sit at tight end in fantasy football

Written By Jackson Sparks
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(SN/Getty)

The Week 1 fantasy TE rankings see the top-tier guys at the top of our list. Unlike any other position, the top three of Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Darren Waller are likely to remain at worst among the top five each week. With those three, matchups hardly matter. While they may see movement among themselves, it's hard to ever rank any of them lower than that. At such a thin position, there simply isn't enough depth to shale up the rankings in a major way like at QB, RB, or WR. Tight end is truly a uniquely top-heavy position in fantasy football.

On the flip side, because of the nature of the position, we might see a guy like Mike Gesicki within the top seven TEs in a given week. Matchups have extreme significance as we move down the list. At tight end, sometimes the best we can hope for is a touchdown and maybe a few catches near the bottom of the starter's tier. If we notice trends of tight ends producing well against a certain team, a guy that sat in the mid-20s of our preseason rankings could see himself in the top 10 of weekly rankings.

WEEK 1 STANDARD RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | D/ST | Kicker

Of course, it's tough to really have a feel for matchups in Week 1. Moreover, it's tough to know which TEs -- especially if they're on new teams or have new coaches -- will be featured. We're projecting more than ever here, which is why most of the top guys in our preseason rankings are still hovering around the starter's tier. We've seen them get targets and produce in the past, so that's the No. 1 thing we have to go on. 

WEEK 1 PPR RANKINGS:
Quarterback | Running back | Wide receiver | Tight end | D/ST | Kicker

This week, we like Dallas Goedert, despite the presence of Zach Ertz. Atlanta has and seemingly always been a goldmine for starting players against their defense. Gesicki sits as 14 this week, as the New England defense is expected to look like the classic Pats defenses from the past. And again, while Waller faces a tough defense at home against Baltimore, it's extremely difficult to justify him being ranked any lower than No. 3. He's the focal point of the offense no matter what -- something we can't say about a lot of the other tight ends behind him.

WEEK 1 FANTASY: Sleepers | Busts | Start 'em, Sit 'em

We'll be updating these TE rankings as needed throughout the week, so check back for the latest changes and analysis.

WEEK 1 DFS LINEUPS: DraftKings | Yahoo | FanDuel

Fantasy TE Rankings Week 1: Who to start at tight end

MORE WEEK 1 DFS: Best stacks | Best values | Lineup Builder

Rankings based on standard, non-PPR scoring

Individual analysis will be added early next week and updated throughout the week to reflect any changes to the rankings.

Rank Player
1 Travis Kelce, KC vs. CLE
2 George Kittle, SF @ DET
3 Darren Waller, LV vs. BAL
4 Mark Andrews, BAL @ LV
5 Dallas Goedert, PHI @ ATL. Goedert squares off against the Atlanta defense, who gave up the fourth-most FPPG to tight ends a season ago (12.6). While Zach Ertz is still in town, Goedert has ample opportunity to produce a top-five outing among tight ends. We like him more in standard leagues, where his big-play skill set is more valuable, but you won't be benching him in any format this week.
6 Kyle Pitts, ATL vs. PHI. A year ago, the Eagles were a bottom-10 defense against tight ends, so there's good reason Pitts is our highest ranked rookie across all position groups. He was a top-four pick in the 2021 NFL Draft and possesses elite athleticism not found anywhere else at the position.
7 T.J. Hockenson, DET vs. SF. San Francisco should be much better on defense with some notable players coming back from injury, but Hockenson is the No. 1 option in the Lions' passing game. Whether the Lions' offense is putrid or not, he'll be fed targets early and often. If D'Andre Swift (groin) is limited, we could see a jaw-dropping number of passes headed Hockenson's way. We've seen Jared Goff feed tight ends before, and with a weak WR room, he should do it with regularity in Detroit. Hockenson should look to be a star in PPR leagues, but he's also a safe starter every week across standard formats.
8 Noah Fant, DEN @ NYG. Fant has been cleared for Week 1, and we like him most in standard leagues. He's a big-play threat with undeniable athleticism, and he'll hopefully see more accurate targets with Teddy Bridgewater at the helm.
9 Tyler Higbee, LAR vs. CHI. Higbee is now the settled in as the No. 1 TE in LA after Gerald Everett left town. Sean McVay will be chomping at the bit to show off his new offense led by Matthew Stafford, so a number of Rams players could have top-10 fantasy outings this week.
10 Logan Thomas, WAS vs. LAC. Thomas sees a boost in PPR leagues, but he rounds out the top 10 in standard. Believe it or not, Ryan Fitzpatrick is an upgrade at QB. He'll make the defense respect the pass, and he won't be afraid to take shots. There's a chance Thomas will see more deep targets, making his standard value nearly as high as his PPR value. The Chargers gave up the 11th-most fantasy points to tight ends last year, and while they'll likely improve in that area, it will probably take time.
11 Robert Tonyan Jr., GB vs. NO. Tonyan should hopefully get some more targets this year, but if he doesn't he's still a solid play in standard leagues. Aaron Rodgers obviously trusts him in the red zone (10 catches on 11 targets in that area), and the Packers' offense will be explosive once again in 2021. This is the area of the list where tight ends are very reliant on TDs.
12 Rob Gronkowski, TB vs. DAL. Dallas' defense isn't going to be fixed overnight by Dan Quinn, and Gronk had a full offseason to shake off any rust that remained from last season. Expect the Bucs to be in the red zone often, where he makes his living.
13 Jonnu Smith, NE vs. MIA. Smith and Hunter Henry could realistically serve as the top two options in the Patriots' passing game. It's unclear who will emerge as the top TE, but both should be fantasy-relevant. Mac Jones taking over as the starting quarterback can only help both of their situations. Pump the brakes a little bit on Smith, as he has never reached the 450-yard mark in a run-heavy Tennessee offense. There is no A.J. Brown in New England to steal targets, but they should be a run-first team, too.
14 Mike Gesicki, MIA @ NE. Gesicki will often be ranked higher than TE14, but it's tough to do it this week. The Patriots were a top-five defense against tight ends last year, and they just brought back Kyle Van Noy and Dont'a Hightower. At such a scarce position, you still may have to start Gesicki, but it's worth looking at other options.
15 Hunter Henry, NE vs MIA. See Jonnu Smith.
16 Jared Cook, LAC @ WAS. Cook currently sits as the starting tight end for the Chargers in Justin Herbert's offense. He's been underrated in fantasy with the Saints and Raiders, but continues to have solid weeks here and there.
17 Gerald Everett, SEA @ IND. Russell Wilson has been impressed with Everett this offseason, but the Colts are a tough matchup for any offense. A season ago, they allowed the third-fewest fantasy points to tight ends, so while Everett has a nice chance to produce this year, it's probably not going to happen in Week 1.
18 Zach Ertz, PHI @ ATL. Ertz remains in Philadelphia and he will still be relevant in fantasy football -- especially in deeper PPR leagues. Week 1 is a good opportunity to show he's still got it against a bad Atlanta defense.
19 Kyle Rudolph, NYG vs. DEN. Rudolph settles into the starting tight end role if Evan Engram (calf) misses the game as expected. With Kenny Golladay (hamstring) and Saquon Barkley (knee) set to play, Rudolph's ceiling isn't sky-high, but Daniel Jones could count on the veteran TE while his other skill players settle in.
20 Cole Kmet, CHI @ LAR. Kmet is a breakout candidate this year, but he won't be great against a stud defense in LA. The Rams were a top-10 unit against tight ends last year, and Andy Dalton will probably struggle with Aaron Donald in his face all game.
21 Blake Jarwin, DAL @ TB
22 Anthony Firkser, TEN vs. ARI
23 Eric Ebron, PIT @ BUF
24 Jimmy Graham, CHI @ LAR
25 Chris Herndon, MIN @ CIN
26 Dan Arnold, CAR vs. NYJ
27 Jack Doyle, IND vs. SEA
28 Adam Trautman, NO vs. GB
29 C.J. Uzomah, CIN vs. MIN
30 Tyler Kroft, NYJ @ CAR
31 Austin Hooper, CLE @ KC
32 Jordan Akins, HOU vs. JAX
33 Dalton Schultz, DAL @ TB
34 Dawson Knox, BUF vs. PIT
35 Pat Freiermuth, PIT @ BUF
36 Hayden Hurst, ATL vs. PHI
37 Mo Alie-Cox, IND vs. SEA

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