If you have played dynasty fantasy football for an extended period of time, you know how difficult it can be to find one of the elite tight end's that can finish in the top three at the position year in and year out. The top two in fantasy football right now are Travis Kelce and George Kittle and both players provide a big advantage at the tight end position over the rest of your league. Obviously, it would be difficult to acquire either of these players for a reasonable price, so we're going to be looking at some alternative tight ends to acquire that could reach the point of being a consistent top three tight end. The best way to start the process of finding a tight end that is ready to break out is to identify a group of players that you believe could fit this mold and dive deep into each player's fantasy outlook for the next five years.
Mike Gesicki - Mike Gesicki entered the 2018 NFL Draft process as one of the highest-rated tight end's to come out in that class. He was coming off a stellar senior season in which he tallied 57 receptions and nine receiving touchdowns. Gesicki was known for having some of the best hands in the class, showcased by only dropping two of his 59 catchable targets in 2017. Gesickis draft stock skyrocketed after the NFL combine when he tested as a 99th percentile SPARQ score athlete. At 6'6" 247 pounds, Gesicki ran a 4.54 40 yard dash, showcased his explosiveness with his 41.5 inch vertical, and showed off his incredible agility with his 6.76-second three-cone time. Not only is Gesicki a 99th percentile athlete at tight end, but he was very productive in the second half of 2019. From week nine until the end of the season Mike Gesicki was on a 16 game pace of 64 receptions for 741 yards and nine touchdowns. That was all done on a struggling Miami Dolphins team that would end up drafting in the top five. Gesicki should be in line for more work in 2020 with both Allen Hurns and Albert Wilson opting out. An increase in targets and more comfortability in the offense could lead to a breakout year for the Dolphins third-year tight end.
(picture is via miamidolphins.com)
TJ Hockenson - TJ Hockenson came out with an absolute BANG last year when he went off for six receptions, 131 yards, and one touchdown. That would end up being the high point of the season for the rookie tight end from Iowa as he would fail to hit the 60-yard mark in a single game for the rest of the season. However, that was his rookie season (which is notoriously very poor for tight ends) and the Lions lost star quarterback Matthew Stafford in the middle of the season. Hockenson also dealt with a bit of an ankle injury in 2019, that clearly hampered his mobility during the latter part of the season. Going into 2020 Matthew Stafford will be fully recovered and healthy, Hockenson has recovered from his ankle injury, the Lions failed to add a significant receiver threat to the team in the offseason and Hockenson should be much more comfortable in his second year in the system. TJ Hockenson has the athletic profile that you look for in a potential breakout tight end and he has a star quarterback throwing him the ball. Those two factors alone should be enough to look at TJ Hockenson as a potential breakout tight end in 2020.
Mark Andrews - Mark Andrews may not have been a guy that you would have expected to see on this list because he already had a bit of a breakout last year when he totaled 64 receptions for 852 yards and ten touchdowns. Last season was enough to push Andrews into the top five at the tight end position, but if everything goes his way in 2020 he could break his way into the same tier of tight ends as Travis Kelce and George Kittle. It did not take Andrews very long to quickly become Lamar Jacksons' favorite target in the offense. Going into his second full season with Jackson as his quarterback should put him in line for a much higher snap percentage and target count. Mark Andrews has a great opportunity to lead the Ravens in targets, receiving yards, receiving touchdowns, and should be a solid centerpiece of your dynasty roster for the next five to seven seasons to come.
(picture is via Draftkings Nation)
Noah Fant - Noah Fant is in a similar tier of fantasy tight end as his former Iowa teammate TJ Hockenson. Fant came into 2019 with pretty high expectations as a rookie tight end. Fant was selected at 20th overall in the 2019 NFL draft after his phenomenal career at Iowa and then tested off the charts at the NFL combine. When Fant came in at 6'4", 250 pounds, and then put up a 4.50 40 yard dash, 39.5" vertical jump, and 6.81 three-cone time every NFL scouts eyes lit up with excitement. Fant had everything you could want from a pass-catching tight end coming out of college, good hands, good production at a power five school, and elite top-end athleticism. In 16 games played as a rookie, Fant finished with 40 receptions, 562 yards, and three touchdowns. Rookie tight ends have historically been known to not produce very well as a rookie and Fant is looking to improve going into year two with the Broncos and his first full season with Drew Lock as his starting quarterback. Fant should see an increase in target share in 2020 and he has 8+ touchdown upside. It would not be a surprise at all to see Noah Fant finish the year as a top-six tight end.
Hayden Hurst - To this point in Hayden Hurst's career, he has largely been considered a bust of a first round pick in the NFL draft. Especially due to the fact that he was draft two rounds, Mark Andrews, in the 2018 draft and was quickly beat out for the job. Hurst will finally have his shot at being the number one tight end for his team after an offseason trade sent him to the Atlanta Falcons to replace the spot that Austin Hooper left. Hurst has not had a greatly productive career up to this point, but even as a backup tight end on the Ravens last year he ended up with 30 receptions. Now he is going to a team that now has 97 vacated targets at the tight end position (and that was only in 13 games!). Hurst should be in line for a massive target opportunity in Atlanta and with his talent of being a first-round pick just two years ago, there will be a good opportunity for Hurst to finish the 2020 season as a top six tight end.