NFL All-Decade Series: Top 10 Tight End Performances
NFL All-Decade Series: Top 10 Tight End Performances

In the NFL All-Decade series, we revisit and recap the top fantasy performances of the decade. Today we'll take a look at the tight end position, one cursed by fantasy managers scraping the bottom of the barrel and the waiver wire, and celebrated by those with the advantage of starting bona fide studs.

For our TE series, fantasy points are calculated based on:

  • 0.5 points per reception
  • 1 point per 10 receiving/rushing yards (0.1 point per yard)
  • 6 points per receiving/rushing TD
  • 2 points per two-point conversion scored
  • -2 points per fumble lost

10) Rob Gronkowski: 31.0 fantasy points - Patriots 34 @ Redskins 27 (Week 14 - 2011)

6 catches, 160 yards, 2 TDs

This is the game in which Gronk burst onto the scene as a superstar, muscling his way for two scores and an insane 26.7 yards per catch. With this performance, he set the NFL single-season record for touchdowns by a tight end, solidifying himself as a game wrecker in fantasy for years to come.

9) Antonio Gates: 31.1 fantasy points - Chargers 30 vs. Seahawks 2 (Week 2 - 2014)

7 catches, 96 yards, 3 TDs

It was a flashback to old times as Gates connected with Philip Rivers in the end zone thrice, carrying the Chargers past the defending Super Bowl champion Seahawks. His final score, a 21-yard grab, was the highlight of the contest: Gates leapt over two defenders to reel in a spectacular left-handed catch. It was the second time in his career that Gates scored three times in a single contest.

8) Julius Thomas: 31.9 fantasy points - Broncos 31 vs. Colts 24 (Week 1 - 2014)

7 catches, 104 yards, 3 TDs

Following up his incredible '13 campaign, Thomas kicked off the 2014 season hot. His three first-half TDs tied Shannon Sharpe's previous franchise record for a single game, serving as an eternal reminder of how lethal the tight end's connection with Peyton Manning once was. The Broncos would go on to end the season with a loss to these same Colts in the divisional round.

7) Zach Ertz: 32.4 fantasy points - Eagles 27 vs. Cowboys 13 (Week 17 - 2017)

13 catches, 139 yards, 2 TDs

Ertz emerged as a true superstar tight end in the 2017 campaign, and though his Week 17 performance didn't help many fantasy managers, it did cap the season in spectacular fashion. He stretched out impressively for his second TD of the contest and otherwise did most of his damage over the middle, as has become a theme for Ertz.

6) Travis Kelce: 32.8 fantasy points - Chiefs 40 @ Raiders 33 (Week 13 - 2018)

12 catches, 168 yards, 2 TDs, 1 fumble lost

Few tight ends can claim to be the weapon that Kelce is, and he certainly made the most of Patrick Mahomes' historic MVP season. Catching all but one of 13 targets, Kelce's stellar route-running and athleticism made him very nearly uncoverable to Oakland's secondary. The only surprise here is that Kelce doesn't occupy more spots on this list.

5) Tony Gonzalez: 32.9 fantasy points - Falcons 23 vs. Patriots 30 (Week 4 - 2013)

12 catches, 149 yards, 2 TDs

The story of Gonzalez's Hall of Fame resume already was written well before this decade, but he still managed to turn in a vintage performance in his final NFL season. A testament to his remarkable consistency, he once again was a valuable fantasy option in 2013. His 149 yards in Week 4 were even a career high.

4) Blake Jarwin: 33.4 fantasy points - Cowboys 35 @ Giants 35 (Week 17 - 2018)

7 catches, 119 yards, 3 TDs

On a list that largely consists of superstars and Hall of Fame candidates, Jarwin's top-five placement is a bit jarring – even more so, as his Week 17 performance came after the standard fantasy season and thereby slipped under the radar. Jarwin joined Dallas the previous season as an undrafted free agent and practice squad member, and after beginning the 2018 campaign as a backup he capped the year as the first tight end in franchise history to pull off three scores in a single game.

3) Zach Ertz: 33.5 fantasy points - Eagles 20 vs. Cowboys 27 (Week 10 - 2018)

14 catches, 145 yards, 2 TDs

As a clutch weapon for Philadelphia, it's not too surprising that both of Ertz's appearances on this list came during performances against the division rival Cowboys. With the Eagles playing catch up from the first quarter onward, and the team's defense never able to make a stop, Carson Wentz turned to his most reliable weapon, Ertz, again and again in favor of other options like Alshon Jeffery and Golden Tate.

2) Vernon Davis: 34.0 fantasy points - 49ers 32 vs. Cardinals 20 (Week 6 - 2013)

8 catches, 180 yards, 2 TDs

Davis' career has included a myriad of ups and downs, but the tight end's 2013 campaign was among his better showings. His performance came entirely in the first half, putting his production through two quarters among the best stretches in NFL history. When benefiting from coverage mismatches against smaller DBs, the transcendent athlete proved neigh uncoverable as the favorite target of Colin Kaepernick.

1) Rob Gronkowski: 37.4 fantasy points - Patriots 51 vs. Bears 23 (Week 8 - 2014)

9 catches, 149 yards, 3 TDs

It just wouldn't be fitting for anyone else to be listed as the decade's No. 1 fantasy tight end. Stiff arms. Broken tackles. Monstrous catch-and-runs. Gronk's Week 8 performance in 2014 perfectly encapsulated just how dominant a weapon he was in his prime, both for fantasy and NFL purposes. During the third quarter, he helped the Patriots score an incredible three touchdowns in just 57 seconds.

Honorable Mentions: 

11) Rob Gronkowski: 30.6 fantasy points - Patriots 45 @ Steelers 7 (Week 8 - 2012)

8 catches, 146 yards, 2 TDs

12) George Kittle: 30.5 fantasy points - 49ers 20 vs. Broncos 14 (Week 14 - 2018)

7 catches, 210 yards, 1 TD

13) Jimmy Graham: 30.1 fantasy points - Saints 31 vs. Falcons 27 (Week 10 - 2012)

7 catches, 146 yards, 2 TDs

14) Jermichael Finley: 30.0 fantasy points - Packers 27 @ Bears 17 (Week 3 - 2011)

7 catches, 85 yards, 3 TDs

15) Antonio Gates: 29.9 fantasy points - Chargers 41 vs. Cardinals 10 (Week 4 - 2010)

7 catches, 144 yards, 2 TDs

16) Jimmy Graham: 29.9 fantasy points - Saints 31 vs. Cardinals 7 (Week 3 - 2013)

9 catches, 134 yards, 2 TDs

17) Rob Gronkowski: 29.9 fantasy points - Patriots 28 vs. Steelers 21 (Week 1 - 2015)

5 catches, 94 yards, 3 TDs

18) Greg Olsen: 29.4 fantasy points - Panthers 27 vs. Saints 22 (Week 3 - 2015)

8 catches, 134 yards, 2 TDs

19) Rob Gronkowski: 29.2 fantasy points - Patriots 54 vs. Colts 24 (Week 11 - 2012)

7 catches, 137 yards, 2 TDs

20) Rob Gronkowski: 27.7 fantasy points - Patriots 39 @ Steelers 26 (Week 10 - 2010)

5 catches, 72 yards, TDs

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ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Ilango Villoth
Ilango produces NFL content for Rotowire. Beat writer for the Miami Dolphins.
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