1.  
TE  KC
Rec
98
Rec Yds
1233
Rec TD
9
Rec Avg
12.6
Rush Att
0
Rush Yds
0
Rush TD
0
Rush Avg
0.0
It might seem like Rob Gronkowski's retirement promoted Kelce to the top of the tight end class, but Kansas City's version of No. 87 was already there. Kelce rode shotgun on Patrick Mahomes' MVP season, bumping most of his counting stats and efficiency ones too. He's now ranked first, second and first in TE fantasy points the last three years. Mahomes was able to prioritize Kelce around the goal line in a way that Alex Smith never would. Kelce had just 16 targets inside the 10-yard line entering last year, then collected 12 - third in the league and most among tight ends - for 2018 alone. Perhaps Kelce will be a little easier to mark with Tyreek Hill likely out of the picture, but if defenses had any clue how to stop the 29-year-old tight end we probably would have seen it by now. No one has cracked this matrix. Injuries are a tricky thing to predict for anyone, especially those at tight end, the ultimate collision position. That said, credit Kelce for playing in 79 of 80 games the last five years. He had a clean-up ankle surgery in early March, missing the offseason program before gaining clearance for the start of training camp. Selecting a vanity tight end isn't for everyone - some fantasy owners don't want to play catch-up at the other positions. But with the first tight end tier a tiny and exclusive group, it's possible margin analysis could push you to an early Kelce pick. It seems easier to get lucky at the other positions than it is to strike gold at tight end.
2.  
TE  SF
Rec
84
Rec Yds
1211
Rec TD
7
Rec Avg
14.4
Rush Att
0
Rush Yds
0
Rush TD
0
Rush Avg
0.0
It wasn't just that Kittle had a career season, he had a season that was almost too good to be true. And it's hard to know how to react to that type of year. Kittle and Travis Kelce played ping-pong with the single-season yardage record for a tight end; when the smoke cleared, Kittle won. That's an incredible accomplishment for any player, but then underscore that Kittle did it playing most of his season with undrafted quarterback Nick Mullens (Kelce, meanwhile, worked with the NFL MVP). The 49ers also had pedestrian wideouts; every late-season opponent took to the field with the primary goal of stopping Kittle. And let's not forget Kittle was scarcely used at Iowa, catching just 48 passes in four college seasons. The 49ers need to prioritize Kittle more in the scoring area. He only had five touchdowns despite last year's banner season, and three came from long distance (43, 82, 85 yards). The other two spikes were from the 10- and 5-yard line. It wasn't for a lack of trying, as Kittle was fourth among tight ends in red-zone targets. A full season of Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback could go a long way toward fixing this deficiency. Garoppolo, in a lot of ways, is the elephant in the San Francisco huddle. Can he be trusted to play a full season? Have we seen enough of him to definitively conclude he's a difference-maker? How you feel about Garoppolo goes a long way toward solving your Kittle stance in 2019.
3.  
TE  PHI
Rec
99
Rec Yds
1040
Rec TD
8
Rec Avg
10.5
Rush Att
0
Rush Yds
0
Rush TD
0
Rush Avg
0.0
If it feels like Ertz gets better every season, you're not wrong. His fantasy point total has gone up every year since he entered the NFL, and he's coming off a season in which he set career highs in just about every counting and efficiency stat. Imagine what Ertz might have accomplished had Carson Wentz lasted the full season. Ertz's per-play stats had some odd tints to them last year. Although he had the lowest YPC of his career, he also had a career-high 13 grabs of more than 20 yards and his highest catch rate. The Eagles spiked Ertz's red-zone usage, allowing him to match his career high in touchdowns. It was encouraging to see Ertz play his first full season out of four, as he battled a laundry list of injuries through the year. That's part of the gig at tight end, the position of collisions. Fantasy players have to reconcile how they feel about the clear Big 3 at the position - Ertz, Travis Kelce and George Kittle. Few will have Ertz at the top; his athleticism and team context aren't as lofty as Kelce's, while Kittle has uncommon speed for the position and the advantage of being the shiny new toy of the group. But if you want to sign off on Ertz as early as the second or third round, we'll tacitly approve. The position is especially top-heavy this year, and even if Ertz slips back to 2017 levels, you'll probably earn back the cost of the selection.
4.  
TE  TB
Rec
64
Rec Yds
822
Rec TD
7
Rec Avg
12.8
Rush Att
0
Rush Yds
0
Rush TD
0
Rush Avg
0.0
If you're low on cash but feeling thirsty, head down to the local tavern armed with some O.J. Howard trivia. Howard led tight ends in YPC and YPT last year, which is sure to win you a few free libations. He certainly made an impression with quarterback Jameis Winston, who initially said the sky was the limit for Howard, then changed that to the moon. We always knew Winston was something of a space cadet; now we have deeper confirmation. A high-ankle sprain kept Howard out of six games last year and probably masked what was in all actuality a breakout season. He's also a capable blocker, which can be a double-edged sword - the teams love it, the fantasy honks not so much. A third-year breakout would make sense from a linear perspective, and we're also expecting coach Bruce Arians to have a ball with Howard's size and athleticism. There are other talented pass catchers in Tampa Bay (Mike Evans and Chris Godwin wave hello), but Howard deserves consideration as the top tight end chosen after the first tier is depleted.
5.  
TE  NYG
Rec
75
Rec Yds
894
Rec TD
5
Rec Avg
11.9
Rush Att
0
Rush Yds
0
Rush TD
0
Rush Avg
0.0
Arbitrary endpoints aren't always reliable when it comes to player evaluation, but Engram's strong finish in 2018 was encouraging. He returned from a hamstring injury to play the final four games, topping 75 yards in each start. The touchdown count was fairly low - one in that sequence, just three on the year - but there weren't many survivors on the sinking Giants ship. You have to squint a bit to see Engram's growth last year, but it's there on the stat page. He bumped his YPC forward, raised his catch rate by nearly 15 percentage points and had a 43 percent bump in his yards per target. The shape of the roster presents pros and cons for Engram in Year 3. Odell Beckham Jr. is gone, which presents a major chunk of available targets even after the signing of Golden Tate, who may be suspended for all of September. The quarterback position could be a mess, featuring the last days of Eli Manning versus the uncharted waters of Daniel Jones. But given the brief moments of brilliance Engram showed the last two years, we're willing to take an open mind to his likely mid-round ADP.
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