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
The genesis of the stats was a shade less dynamic - lower catch rate, lower YPC - but Kelce still pushed over that magic 1,000-yard plateau and posted his best touchdown season. In other words, he finally learned how to click with Alex Smith, Mr. Conservative. Alas, Mr. Smith is now gone to Washington, and Kelce needs to learn how to play with Patrick Mahomes, a high-pedigree, low-experience second-year quarterback. We suspect Kelce can succeed in any environment, but it also makes you curious to see how the Chiefs click this preseason. Will they continue to push the ball downfield as they did last season, contrary to previous seasons? Or will coach Andy Reid revert to protect-the-ball, dink-and-dunk? Kelce also has to share a little more, as the Chiefs have another mouth to feed in the offense - freshly acquired Sammy Watkins. And still, there have been only 43 tight-end seasons of 1,000 yards in NFL history and Kelce has two of them. Maybe the quarterback simply doesn't matter. At 6-5, 260, Kelce is no match for defensive backs, and he's a playmaker in the open field with speed and elusiveness. Kelce's 2013 season was wiped out by a knee injury, but he's only missed one start since. If you don't like the running backs and wide receivers you're faced with in the early rounds, a pivot to Kelce is always a reasonable alternative.
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
Tight end is a hard position, especially for rookies. Kittle's first-year haul might not seem like much, but since the merger, only 16 rookie tight ends have produced more catches than Kittle's 43. His production got a modest bump when Jimmy Garoppolo took over: five games, 15-224-1, a catch rate of 78.9 percent. And now we get to dig into the growth seasons for a typical tight end. Kittle is a better athlete than blocker, and that's fine with us. At 6-4, 250, he blazed a 4.52 40 at the 2017 combine, also displaying explosiveness with strong marks in the vertical jump (35 inches) and broad jump (132 inches). Kittle tied for fifth among tight ends with 16 red-zone targets last year, but most of those were from quarterbacks far worse than Garoppolo (hence the modest TD total). The 49ers have a lot of receiving turf to be claimed, following a season in which no player had more than 59 receptions or four TD catches. Garoppolo, of course, didn't start the year with the team. Make sure Kittle is prominent on your list of potential breakout players. Heck, he could be a cheaper way to get Garoppolo and Kyle Shanahan exposure, if you miss on some of the buzzier targets. Kittle did suffer a separated shoulder in the first week of the preseason, but the 49ers expect him to be back for their regular-season opener.
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
Ertz's catch and yardage stats have been stable and similar for three consecutive seasons, but last year was the first time the Eagles unlocked Ertz near the goal line as he was one of five tight ends with double-digit end-zone targets (10). The timing makes sense, as Carson Wentz 2.0 was a major upgrade from the rookie-year version. Wentz and Ertz also have a mind-meld that's unusual. It's obvious these two have spent a ton of time working together, developing the unspoken chemistry you see on Sunday. And if Nick Foles is required to play at all, that's not a concern for Ertz. The reliable tight end posted an 18-192-1 line in the playoffs, superb production on just 22 targets, when Foles replaced the injured Wentz. At 6-5, 250, Ertz, who turns 28 in November, is a safe place to park your money. Even on a Philadelphia team that spreads it around versus forcing the ball to its name players, expect Ertz to keep most of last year's touchdowns.
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
The Buccaneers were judicious in their usage of Howard, but the rookie made splash plays when his number was called. A mark of 16.6 YPC is snappy for any player, but especially for a rookie tight end. And Howard somehow scored six times on just 26 catches. He also deserves high marks for snagging two-thirds of his 39 targets. Howard is an elite athlete, and that might actually work against his fantasy potential a bit - unlike teammate Cameron Brate, Howard is a strong blocker and will be deployed in that role often. But if you're merely thinking about TE upside in the secondary stages of your fantasy draft, Howard is a name to underscore. He has a pedigree (the 19th overall pick in 2017) and most of his Combine stats were impressive. At the end of the day, Tampa Bay can't ignore that Howard is slightly bigger than Brate, significantly faster and has a much wider catch radius. Both Howard and Brate played for Crimson-colored colleges (Alabama and Harvard, respectively), but if we're picking between them, we'll tap the Tide for maximum upside. Just remember that both tight ends likely will face a challenge early in the year, as QB Jameis Winston will serve a suspension for the first three weeks.
5.  
TE  LAC
Rec
67
Rec Yds
799
Rec TD
6
Rec Avg
11.9
Rush Att
0
Rush Yds
0
Rush TD
0
Rush Avg
0.0
Henry was merely the TE13 in standard scoring leagues last season, despite four games missed and the presence of Antonio Gates. In 2018, It looked like we would finally get to see what Henry can do without Gates getting in the way. Alas, the 23-year-old tore his ACL in May during OTAs, thus stalling his emergence as the Chargers' undisputed go-to tight end. Assuming a full recovery, Henry's career stats (81-1057-12) probably illustrate what he could do at his peak in a few seasons. That production came on a modest 115 targets, the number you'd expect a top-notch tight end to receive. The timing of Henry's injury should allow him to be healthy in advance of the 2019 campaign, at which point he'll look to pick up where he left off.
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