We have already broken down the Top Three Dynasty Running Backs and Wide Receivers. It’s time to get to a position that holds huge value in regular and dynasty fantasy football; the tight end. The cabinet is bare in terms of fantasy dominant tight ends currently in the NFL. The 2021 group might deepen that pool.
Tight End Class Summary
There is one thing this class has that it hasn’t since, well, maybe ever. Just nine tight ends have been selected in the first round over the last ten drafts. Consequently, only two of those were picked in the Top 10 – TJ Hockenson (2019) and Eric Ebron (2014).
The earliest ever selection was Vernon Davis in 2006 when he was taken sixth overall by San Francisco.
If you read the reports, Florida tight end Kyle Pitts may break that record. Since Pitts is grabbing headlines, the handful of dynasty-ready tight ends behind him aren’t getting much attention.
This class, similar to the running backs, is a bit top heavy. No doubt Pitts is looked at as the number one tight end. While the second and third ranked tight ends aren’t too surprising, which one a dynasty owner prefers will vary.
There are a number of different criteria I look at when determining my rankings. They include; size/physical stature, ability and production transfer, and intangibles.
Without further ado, let’s look at my Top Three Dynasty fantasy tight ends for the 2021 NFL class.
#1: Kyle Pitts – TE – Florida
Peds’ Ranks: TE #1, OVERALL #7
If there was one player in this draft where size and stature reflected their skill, it’s Pitts. At 6-6, 240 pounds, he’s essentially a big bodied wide receiver who plays tight end. His size makes him versatile and a matchup nightmare for defenses.
Ability and Production Transfer
Pitts’ size will play a role in his potential NFL dominance. Also, combine that with his speed, it’s not a surprise he may be the highest tight end ever selected.
- His ability to line up in every spot on the field is what makes him a unicorn. He can run boundary routes against corners, crosses and seams against nickel backs, or dig in at the Y. There are not many tight ends in the NFL that can do that sans Darren Waller.
- He won’t blow by any corners with pure speed, but he will use his length and frame to get in a good position.
- Maybe one of the traits that puts him over the top is his agility. This is where he looks more like a wideout than a tight end. He can change direction with the ball in his hands and looks naturally fluid in space.
- Normally players like this tend to not be physical or block well, but that’s the opposite for Pitts. He isn’t the best blocking tight end in the class but is more than good enough to hold his own.
Pitts was the center of the Florida offense for the past two seasons. He had a great rapport with quarterback Kyle Trask, who often targeted him in the red zone. Although Pitts played in just five games, he caught 43 balls for 770 yards – nearly 18 yards per catch – and 12 touchdowns. Pitts’ breakout season was in his sophomore year when he caught 54 balls and five touchdowns.
Pitts’ ability is not in question. He did have a couple injury issues pop up in his college career, including a concussion last season. This likely will not scare teams away.
His landing spot shouldn’t matter, although dynasty owners would prefer Pitts to land with a more creative, offensive-oriented coach. He’s been mocked anywhere from Carolina at number eight to San Francisco at 12. There have also been mock scenarios where teams trade up into the top six to acquire his services. Pitts will be a wanted commodity in a tight end starving league.
Kyle Pitts (2020) 3-Game Highlights 17 receptions 274 yards 7 touchdowns. 2021 TE1 pic.twitter.com/qnKjfFoqcu
— Ray G 🏁 (@RayGQue) October 13, 2020
Pitts was a quarterback in high school until switching to a tight end later in his career. Therefore, he has the acumen and athleticism of a quarterback at the tight end position.
There is absolutely zero question Pitts is the number one tight end prospect in this class. It’s hard to see him swing and miss in the NFL, although players who were just as hyped. Players like Vernon Davis and Evan Engram were/are solid, but fell a bit short of expectations.
For dynasty rookie drafts, Pitts was talked about as a top five pick. But with so many wide receivers and a clear top three running back trio, he’ll essentially go anywhere from 8-12 in rookie drafts. That is, unless someone is looking to reach a bit, which wouldn’t be surprising.
#2: Brevin Jordan – TE – Miami
Peds’ Rank: TE #2, Overall #21
Jordan is a thick, athletic 6-3, 245 pound tight end out of Miami. He uses his frame well both blocking and stacking. His body is NFL ready.
Ability and Production Transfer
Jordan is Kyle Pitts, but not as polished. There are obvious differences such as the physical stature, and Jordan isn’t necessarily as quick when it comes to shifting gears. However, he does have some of the same traits.
- Miami loved to line up Jordan everywhere, including H-back, slot, and even a wide out. He’d also motion. Basically, they used him in a multitude of ways because defenses often keyed on him.
- Jordan also has some ability to provide YAC; yards after catch. Jordan doesn’t mind contact, and also has some stop-and-start in his game. A safety will have a tough time bringing him down alone.
- Jordan has broadened his passing tree each year. It’s only going to need to expand at the NFL level. Miami liked to use him on slip and bubble screens, and plays that were designed solely for him.
Jordan was super consistent at the collegiate level – albeit finding the injury bug along the way. He caught 32, 35 and 38 balls in his three years at Miami, while 2020 saw him score seven times. This is all with fairly average quarterback play over his career as well.
Jordan is super young, so landing on a team where he doesn’t have to be the focal point right away will help. Tight ends simply take a little more time to develop than other skill positions. Somewhere like the Chargers would be great. With Hunter Henry gone, the Bolts are left with Donald Parham, who they will utilize. But it would also give the Chargers time and opportunity to bring along Jordan.
From their size profiles to their playing styles in multiple areas, there’s a lot of parallels between #Miami TE Brevin Jordan and Jonnu Smith.
So versatile that you have to pause the screen prior to the snap in order to find their pre-snap alignments. pic.twitter.com/dNLV1IYZTe
— Jordan Reid (@Jordan_Reid) March 1, 2021
Jordan has pedigree and knows what it takes to win. His dad Darrell was drafted in the NFL by the Falcons. Also, Jordan went to one of the winningest high schools in the state of Nevada. Many of his teammates went on to Division 1 college football. He was the captain of the team his senior year during their state championship run.
I think Brevin Jordan would have been the first tight end taken in the 2020 class, ahead of Cole Kmet. And if it weren’t for Kyle Pitts, he’d be the first tight end taken in the 2021 class. He has some flaws, but they’re all coachable.
As for your dynasty fantasy league outlook, he likely won’t go until at minimum late second round of rookie drafts. Maybe even early third round. I have him ranked 21 overall, but it wouldn’t shock me if he moved up in my rankings, especially after he finds a home after the NFL draft. If you’re tight-end needy and you have a late second round rookie pick, I’d be targeting Jordan, no doubt.
Player: Pat Freiermuth – TE – Penn State
Peds’ Rank: TE #3, OVERALL #26
Pat Freiermuth is simply a beast. He’s a hulking 6-5, 260 pounds. Any observer can tell he doesn’t mind contact – he even seeks it out. He’s physical during and after his routes. You can’t coach size, and Freiermuth has it.
Ability and Production Transfer
Freiermuth is the antithesis of Jordan and Pitts. He mainly lines up either as a slot receiver or puts his hand in the dirt. Penn State used him when in a pinch whether it was to get a big first down, or as a bail out. Although he doesn’t possess all the skills the top two tight ends seem to have, he does do a handful of things really well.
- He’s sure handed. If the ball is anywhere in the general vicinity of Freiermuth, he’ll snag it. He uses his large body well, while also having a wide catch radius.
- Freiermuth is a great route runner. Although he won’t break down a lot of defensive backs, he’s smart and shifty enough to get himself open.
Freiermuth took over for Mike Gisecki and got some run his freshman season. He broke out in his sophomore year, catching 43 balls for 507 yards while also scoring seven times. The Nittany Lions were quite the train wreck this past season, so Freiermuth didn’t have the season anyone expected.
He has plenty of talent to make a solid NFL tight end, but dominant? Hard to say. He’ll be mostly relied on to find soft spots in zones, be a chain mover, and be a big red zone target.
If Freiermuth lands on a team who uses two tight end sets a lot, that would be ideal. He can be utilized as a weapon in the red zone and take his time to develop. With Zach Ertz likely out in Philadelphia, a landing spot with a team like the Eagles as a compliment to Dallas Goedert makes sense.
— Shane Swager (@SwagzillaZeroG) March 12, 2021
Freiermuth is heady. It’s kind of a cliché, but his intelligence helps him in the football arena. In fact, he was an All-Scholastics team athlete in Massachusetts as a senior. He went to Penn State for a Criminal Justice major and, according to his Penn State bio, wants to be involved in law enforcement. Not only that, but he has aspirations to be a football coach someday. A smart, physical player who seems to have his head on straight likely suggests a long, successful NFL career.
Honestly, out of my three top tight ends, Freiermuth may have the highest and safest floor in terms of a real-life NFL tight end. In dynasty, Jordan and Pitts definitely have the higher ceiling, which is what it’s all about. There are simply too many players in dynasty rookie drafts with more potential in the first couple of rounds. So you can likely get him in the third, or maybe even fourth round. He’ll be a solid NFL tight end who will find a roster spot on some fantasy squads, but ultimately won’t be an ultra-sexy dynasty league player.
Tight End Honorable Mention
Look, there are always tight ends that people have never heard of who end up making rosters and even having some success in the NFL. George Kittle was literally picked in the fifth round of the 2017 draft. Travis Kelce was picked in the third round in 2013. It’s likely one or two tight ends drafted late will pan out, but it’s hard to tell at this point. Well behind the top three tight ends are the likes of Hunter Long (Boston College), Kenny Yeboah (Mississippi St.) and Noah Gray (Duke).
Look for the last of my Top 3 Dynasty series – the quarterbacks – coming out soon! My Top 30 Dynasty league rookie rankings will come at the end of the month!