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As we stand at the brink of the biggest month and a half of player movement of the year, it's a good time to take a step back and see which players are potentially undervalued and overvalued before the chaos of free agency starts to make smoke come out of our ears. I've added my tight end rankings to give you five sets of dynasty tight end rankings to look at, and it gives context to my advice here, in addition to some other perspectives.
Super Kelce or Get Off the Pot: If you have Travis Kelce and you aren’t gearing up for a title run with a win now approach, just cash him out now at what is surely going to be his highest offseason value for the rest of his career. He’s definitely at the “it’s better to be a year early than a year late” point in his career.
Who's #2?: There is no consensus on Darren Waller vs. George Kittle for TE2. Waller is a year older, but has less wear and tear and doesn’t play as brutal a style of football. He also has the better overall situation in terms of quarterback quality and competition for targets. I’ll take him as TE2 this year and beyond.
From the Pitts to the Penthouse: Kyle Pitts is going to come in as the #4 dynasty tight end in a lot of rankings, which is where he should be. If you can turn any tight end except the top three into Pitts, you should, even if you have to throw in some sweeteners. He should go higher than any rookie tight end ever has - maybe as high as 1.4 or 1.5 (you could justify him at 1.1) and there’s no way a package centered around TJ Hockenson or Dallas Goedert will land you a top five rookie pick, so good luck.
Volume Isn't Everything: T.J. Hockenson may have some anticipatory value rise since the #1 receiver in Detroit might be Tyrell Williams and Jared Goff once made Tyler Higbee the #1 fantasy tight end for the month of December 2019, but this could also be a sell high moment for him. Volume should be up, but Hockenson hasn’t been the most durable and hasn’t maximized his opportunity yet. If he’s not your only plan at tight end, see what he’ll fetch on the market.
The Irv Train Hasn't Left the Station: There’s a wide range of rankings on Irv Smith, which means there’s still possibly an opening to buy him even though Kyle Rudolph was released. Beware Tyler Conklin, who produced at a similar clip to Smith after Rudolph went out last year. The best angle on Smith might be to wait until September, when he could disappoint in a low volume pass offense, splitting with another capable receiving tight end (maybe even one better than Rudolph was over the last two years).
The EleFant in the Room: Generally the hive mind is more optimistic about Noah Fant than I am. It’s not that I don’t like Fant as a player, it’s that I have no faith in the Broncos to fix their quarterback situation in the next year or two and he has a lot of competition for targets. Along with Hockenson, he’s an excellent piece to use as a stepping stone to Pitts.
Buy Low - Mid Range Options: Your buy low shopping list should also include Logan Thomas - whose arrow is pointing up after a strong finish to his first season as a starter, Tyler Higbee, who should get a much bigger share of tight end targets with a better downfield passer in what promises to be a more aggressive pass offense, and O.J. Howard, whose strong start to 2020 has been forgotten since he tore his achilles.
Buy Low - Bargain Bin: There are enough buy low candidates to satisfy bargain shoppers too. Blake Jarwin would have been a top five tight end if he had stayed healthy last year, and that’s with Dak Prescott missing three quarters of the season. Imagine what he can do this year if he’s healthy and Prescott is still balling. Chris Herndon made a few impressive plays late in the season and he would be far from the first player to finally realize his potential once he was out from under the thumb of Adam Gase. Gerald Everett’s production has been held back by Tyler Higbee’s quality play and a deep Rams pass offense, but he’ll end up with a team that values him as much as any team in the league after free agency, and he hasn’t exactly been a bust after going in the second round in 2017 as a pure receiving tight end.
Even Buy Low on Evan?: Somehow, I am higher on Evan Engram than the other Footballguys rankers. At the very worst, he’s Eric Ebron, who had a renaissance for a year on his second team. Jason Garrett is obviously holding Engram back and he flashed a bit as a downfield receiver when he was finally used as one. It’s worth it to put out a buy low offer.
Sell High - Mid Range Options: Your sell high list should include Mike Gesicki, Hunter Henry, and Robert Tonyan Jr. Gesicki’s current pairing with Tua Tagovailoa and a group of passing game targets that is almost certain to get a lot deeper this spring just adds another reason to his inconsistent scoring profile to move him. Henry has a high risk of going the Austin Hooper route and ending up on a team that will value him for his blocking as much as his receiving and dilute his fantasy value, which was already underwhelming despite getting to ride on the Justin Herbert rocketship for a year. Tonyan’s value was inflated by a three-touchdown game with Davante Adams on the sidelines and a hyperefficient year from Aaron Rodgers. Jace Sternberger may end up being no threat to Tonyan’s value, but the Packers are still going to try to get something from their 2019 third-round pick before they give up on him.
Sell High - Any Blood in these Stones?: Cole Kmet, Austin Hooper, and Hayden Hurst might be tougher sells, but in tight end premium leagues, they still have some appeal. Kmet is the easiest with his best football still ahead of him. Who have the Bears turned into overachievers in the passing game during the Nagy/Pace era? Don’t count on Kmet to be the first. Hooper and Hurst are replaceable assets, but they have name value and they still showed up on end of season ranking lists even though they were a questionable asset at lineup setting time. Both are not going to get any more valuable than they are right now, even though that value is very limited.
Use Your Last Roster Spot To Add: Developmental tight ends are always a great use of that last roster spot. My three favorites are Donald Parham, the speedy skyscraper who should get a big opportunity as long as the Chargers and Hunter Henry don’t find middle ground in contract talks, Foster Moreau, who won’t hit this year unless Darren Waller gets hurt, but should get all of the snaps Jason Witten vacated and always looks like a future starter when he gets a target, and Mo Alie-Cox, who is a beast and still coming into his own, but can’t stay healthy. If the Colts don’t add a tight end of consequence - which I think they are actually trying to do - then Alie-Cox should get to spread his wings this year.
Knock, Knock, Who's There, Njoku Who?: If you still believe in David Njoku, his value is as low as it has ever been. You’ll need a trade out of Cleveland to have a chance to see fantasy relevance, but he is only 24 and even if his game is still in development, it is easy to see the oozing athleticism that made him a first round pick in 2017.