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Dynasty Owner TE Tiers

Dynasty Owner TE Tiers

By Steven Van Tassell

More Dynasty Owner Fantasy Football Tiers 2021. It’s time to move on to tight ends and then finish our tiers with wide receivers next week. Since Dynasty Owners only need to have one TE in their Starting lineup and one on their Bench, these tiers will be more similar to the QB tiers than the RB tiers. Technically, Dynasty Owner teams could start two TEs with one in the FLEX position, but unless you have two of the top TEs in the NFL, you’re unlikely to do so.

Similar to QBs, we have an “Avoid” tier of large salary TEs who just don’t produce enough Dynasty Owner fantasy points to have on your roster. Unlike QBs, there is a clear set of a few high-end TEs who are expensive, yet well worth their salary and should be drafted early in your Dynasty Owner start-up draft. We had five young players in the top QB tier (https://dynastyowner.com/2021/07/dynasty-owner-qb-tiers/), while there are only four players in the first three TE tiers. That’s what makes TE such a unique position in the NFL, as well as in Dynasty Owner.

After those top players, it really is “pick your poison” for the rest of the TEs. All of them have a reason why they aren’t in the top few tiers and Dynasty Owners need to determine what they want. There are many productive, yet expensive TEs out there as well as several tiers comprised of younger, cheaper TEs who might break through and prove to be a huge bargain, such as Robert Tonyan was last year. It’s up to each individual Dynasty Owner to determine what path they want to take with these TEs and how they fit into their roster and under their salary cap.

All 2021 projections come from Rotowire and are based on the Standard Dynasty Owner scoring system as outlined in the updated Dynasty Owner Constitution. Standard Dynasty Owner scoring gives you .1 points for every yard rushing or receiving, .1 point for every 2 yards passing, 1 point per reception, 6 points for a rushing, receiving or passing touchdown and 2 points for a successful 2-point conversion (rushing, receiving, or passing). Interceptions or fumbles lost cost you 3 points, while a fumble that is recovered by the player’s team is a loss of only 1 point. Bonus points are available for 100-199 yards rushing (2 points), 200 yards rushing or receiving (6 points), 300-399 yards passing (1 point) and 400 yards passing (4 points). There is also a 3 point bonus for clutch scoring, which is a score that results in a lead change in the final two minutes of the 4th quarter or overtime. Kickoff and punt return touchdowns are worth 6 points for the player and kickoff and punt returns are worth 1 point for every 40 yards.

As Many TE Tiers as Regular Season Games

As stated in the QB and RB tiers article, Dynasty Owner tiers are not the same as tiers for other fantasy football leagues or on other fantasy football websites. There are multiple factors to consider in Dynasty Owner including current salary, future salaries, 2021 projected stats and long-term potential. Dynasty Owners also need to have a Starting TE and a Bench TE in their lineup every week. There is also a FLEX position in your Dynasty Owner Starting lineup that can be filled by a TE. A minimum of 24 TEs will be collecting points in Dynasty Owner on a weekly basis. That’s why we have more tiers and more players listed than in other TE tiers articles, but fortunately, not quite as many as in the Dynasty Owner RB tiers from last week.

There are five tiers for the top nine TEs with three tiers for the elite, top four guys. That’s why there are more TE than QB tiers despite using the same number of players on a weekly basis. In fact, we have the same number of TE tiers overall, including “a” and “b” tiers as there are games in the 2021 NFL season (17). Players in each tier are listed in order of Dynasty Dollars per Point (DD/PT).

  • Tier 13 – Overpaid Veterans to Avoid Having on Your Roster

Tier 1a – The Best TE with the Lowest Salary

There are three players the top of the TE heap. All three of them are signed to a long-term contract for several million dollars per year. All three of them are expected to score over 250.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in 2021 and at least 40.0 more points than any other TE. We are obviously talking about Travis Kelce, Darren Waller and George Kittle.

In 2020, they were the only three TEs to average more than 15.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points per game. Kittle only played in eight games, so he was TE19, while Kelce and Waller were TE1 and TE2 with over 100.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points than more any other TE.

Because Dynasty Owner uses actual NFL contracts and salaries, Darren Waller is a tier by himself. His salary of $7.45 million is nearly $7 million less than Kelce’s salary and over $7.5 million less than Kittle’s salary. His contract is also only for three more years, so he’ll be on your team for quite a while, but will cost less to drop if something happens and his production declines. Both Kelce and Kittle recently signed five-year contracts.

PlayerYearly SalaryYears2021 Projected Points2021 DD/PT
Darren Waller, LV$7,450,0003265.5$28,060

Tier 1b – The Best TEs with Higher Salaries

The only difference between Darren Waller and both Travis Kelce and George Kittle is salary, as all three are projected to score roughly the same number of points. Therefore, their projected 2021 DD/PT are different with Waller costing roughly half as much as either Kelce or Kittle, which puts Waller in Tier 1a, while Kelce and Kittle comprise Tier 1b.

PlayerYearly SalaryYears2021 Projected Points2021 DD/PT
Travis Kelce, KC$14,312,5005274.0$52,235
George Kittle, SF$15,000,0005263.5$56,926

Tier 2 – Rookie First Round Draft Pick TEs

The title says TEs, but it’s really only one TE – Kyle Pitts from the Atlanta Falcons. Pitts was the #4 overall pick in the 2021 NFL draft and the highest selected TE in NFL draft history. Pitts is widely expected to step in and be at the same level as Waller, Kelce and Kittle in 2021. However, based on projections, he is just a step below the three of them with 208.8 Dynasty Owner fantasy points for 2021.

PlayerYearly SalaryYears2021 Projected Points2021 DD/PT
Kyle Pitts, ATL$8,227,6244208.8$39,404

For 2021, Pitts is projected to have a DD/PT value worse than Waller, but better than Kelce and Kittle as his $8.23 million salary for the next four years is several million dollars lower per year. Pitts is a step below both of them in Tier 2 because he hasn’t yet produced in the NFL, whereas the three TEs in Tiers 1a and 1b have done so more than once in the NFL. Nobody will likely fault you for drafting Pitts as high as (or higher than) Waller, Kelce or Kittle, he’s just a tier below for now.

Tier 3 – Young TEs with One Year Left on Their Contract

If you don’t get one of the TEs in Tiers 1a, 1b and 2, then it’s a steep drop down to Tier 3 in a regular dynasty league or redraft league. However, in Dynasty Owner, the difference is mitigated because the three players in Tier 3 are so much cheaper than the top four TEs, so they are much better values. Sure, none of them is going to produce as many points as those four TEs, but they may be the top receiver on their team in 2021 and were close to being so in 2020. However, all of them play for teams that spent a first round 2021 NFL draft pick on a WR and both the Dolphins and Ravens added new WRs in free agency as well.

PlayerYearly SalaryYears2021 Projected Points2021 DD/PT
Mark Andrews, BAL$863,2901222.5$3,880
Dallas Goedert, PHI$1,406,0681204.9$6,862
Mike Gesicki, MIA$1,652,9811177.3$9,323

The other downside is that those salaries are only valid for the 2021 Dynasty Owner season. Next year, all three are projected by spotrac.com with a market value of at least $10 million per season for three or four seasons. Enjoy their low salaries while you can!

Tier 4 – Former Iowa Hawkeye First Round Draft Picks

The two Iowa Hawkeye TEs drafted in the first round of the 2019 NFL draft comprise this tier of their own. However, Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson aren’t the only former Hawkeye TEs who Dynasty Owners want on their roster as George Kittle has already been listed, but Kittle is better and wasn’t a first round pick (he was taken by the 49ers in the fifth round of the 2017 NFL draft).

PlayerYearly SalaryYears2021 Projected Points2021 DD/PT
Noah Fant, DEN$3,147,6802204.5$15,392
T.J. Hockenson, DET$4,955,3062207.5$23,881

Both are projected to have almost the same number of Dynasty Owner fantasy points in 2021 and since Fant was drafted later than Hockenson (20th pick by Denver vs. 8th pick by Detroit), his salary is about $1.8 million less and therefore, he’s listed first as the better value.

Tier 5 – Young TEs with Affordable Salaries and Potential

Finally, a tier with more than three TEs. Those initial tiers comprise the top eight TEs in terms of projected 2021 scoring with a significant drop-off from the top three TEs (Kelce, Waller and Kittle) and the next five (Andrews, Pitts, Hockenson, Goedert, and Fant). The drop from Tier 4 to Tier 5 might be steeper, but all of these players have potential to go along with low salaries since none of them were first round NFL draft picks.

PlayerYearly SalaryYears2021 Projected Points2021 DD/PT
Adam Trautman, NO$1,124,8513140.8$7,989
Irv Smith, MIN$1,449,6092177.2$8,181
Harrison Bryant, CLE$1,016,0073104.7$9,704
Brevin Jordan, HOU$958,046484.2$11,378
Albert Okwuegbunam, DEN$1,011,011376.2$13,268
Cole Kmet, CHI$1,894,4443139.6$13,571
Pat Freiermuth, PIT$1,507,045491.7$16,435

The key word is “potential” as two of these players are rookies (Freiermuth and Jordan), while none of the others (Trautman, Smith, Bryant, Albert O and Kmet) have scored more than 100.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points in a season. All but Albert O are all projected to do so in 2021 and all are projected to beat their 2020 production by a minimum of 40.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points. Take a chance on these guys, it may work out great, and you’ll have an affordable productive TE for a couple of seasons.

Tier 6a – Low-End, $3 Million Starting TEs with One Year Left on Their Contract

While they are listed as “low-end” for 2021, all of these TEs finished in the Top 10 in TE scoring in Dynasty Owner in 2020. None are projected to be in the Top 10 in 2021, while all are at least 27 years old and on one-year contracts worth around $3 million for 2021. 

PlayerYearly SalaryYears2021 Projected Points2021 DD/PT
Logan Thomas, WAS$3,072,5001171.9$17,874
Hayden Hurst, ATL$2,759,0071141.6$19,485
Robert Tonyan, GB$3,384,0001156.4$21,637

All of them have a red flag that prevents them from ranking in a higher tier. Thomas is the oldest (30 years old), but projected to have the most Dynasty Owner fantasy points and best DD/PT for 2021. Tonyan has a potentially questionable QB situation in Green Bay and the Falcons drafted Hurst’s replacement in the first round of the NFL draft. Dynasty Owners could end up with a solid, low-end TE if they draft these guys and they produce as they did in 2020.

Tier 6b – Potential $3 Million Low-End Starting TEs

This “b” tier is comprised of three players who could have gone in Tier 6a based on salary, but since none of them have produced as well as those players, they needed to be rated slightly lower. 

PlayerYearly SalaryYears2021 Projected Points2021 DD/PT
Anthony Firkser, TEN$3,000,0001147.1$20,394
Dan Arnold, CAR$3,000,0002110.0$27,273
Mo Alie-Cox, IND$3,384,000195.7$35,361

All three of these TEs had career years in 2020 and are projected to exceed that career year in 2021. It’s possible that they do, but Dynasty Owners shouldn’t expect these guys to be a regular in their weekly Starting lineup. Only Arnold has more than one year left on his contract, so they all can be easily dropped next year if they don’t perform, or get a large multi-year contract that your team can’t afford.

Tier 7a – Cheap Contract TEs who Need to Prove Themselves

Everyone here has an annual salary of less than $1 million and a projected 2021 DD/PT value of under $10,000. However, none are projected as a Top 24 scoring TE in 2021. Each has just one or two years to establish themselves as a top-flight TE.

PlayerYearly SalaryYears2021 Projected Points2021 DD/PT
Dawson Knox, BUF$880,4002125.7$7,004
Christopher Herndon, NYJ$792,8411113.0$7,016
Dalton Schultz, DAL$728,0901102.0$7,138
Kaden Smith, NYG$680,002278.6$8,651
Jordan Akins, HOU$831,271186.1$9,655

Only Akins is over 25 years old, so the others still could have long, productive careers ahead of them. Unlike the Tier 3 TEs with one year left on their contract and similar DD/PT values, none of the TEs in this tier are one of the top receivers on their NFL teams. The possibility that each could make a lot more salary in a year or two puts them a couple of tiers below the Tier 5 TEs. While both Knox and Smith have two years remaining on their contract, as does Irv Smith in Tier 5, neither Knox nor Kaden Smith is projected to have as many Dynasty Owner fantasy points in 2021 as Irv Smith.

Tier 7b – More Cheap Contract TEs who Need to Prove Themselves

All of these TEs are just a tier below the previous tier as in 2021, they are projected to have worse DD/PT values than the “a” tier TEs with similar salaries.

PlayerYearly SalaryYears2021 Projected Points2021 DD/PT
Will Dissly, SEA$777,568159.6$13,046
Durham Smythe, MIA$773,059144.8$17,256
Donald Parham, LAC$695,000138.6$18,005
Ian Thomas, CAR$801,999144.5$18,022
Hakeem Butler, PHI$780,000136.5$21,370
Jacob Hollister, BUF$1,127,500150.8$22,195
Drew Sample, CIN$1,376,574257.8$23,816
Foster Moreau, LV$752,098222.4$33,576

For one reason or another, all of them have lower projections. Buffalo and Cincinnati both have plenty of other pass catchers ahead of Hollister and Sample. Dissly, Thomas and Parham are on one year contracts and had their NFL teams sign another TE to a bigger salary to seemingly play ahead of them. Smythe and Butler have crowded TE rooms and another low salary TE who has had very good seasons in the past in front of them. Finally, Foster Moreau is stuck behind Darren Waller in Las Vegas, but is probably a good handcuff to have for Waller owners in case of injury.

Tier 8a – Expensive, but Productive Veterans on One-Year Contracts

Solid and steady. That’s what you’re getting for your money from these six guys.

PlayerYearly SalaryYears2021 Projected Points2021 DD/PT
Jared Cook, LAC$4,500,0001167.2$26,914
Gerald Everett, SEA$6,000,0001145.3$41,294
Rob Gronkowski, TB$8,000,0001185.3$43,173
Eric Ebron, PIT$6,000,0001130.7$45,907
Zach Ertz, PHI$8,500,0001137.3$61,908
Jimmy Graham, CHI$8,000,0001123.7$64,673

They are all pretty expensive with salaries of between $4.5 million and $8 million for the 2021 season, but all of them are projected to finish in the Top 30 TEs in Dynasty Owner after finishing that high in 2020 as well. Except for Zach Ertz who missed five games, but was still TE31.

Tier 8b – High Salary TEs with Multi-Year Contracts

Both of these TEs are a notch below the Tier 8a TEs because they have expensive, multi-year salaries in the same annual salary range.

PlayerYearly SalaryYears2021 Projected Points2021 DD/PT
Blake Jarwin, DAL$5,500,0003145.0$37,931
Tyler Higbee, LA$7,250,0003178.8$40,548

Tier 9 – TEs with $10 Million+ Annual Salaries and Multi-Year Contracts

These are the only TEs besides Travis Kelce and George Kittle who will make more than $10 million in 2021 and for at least three more years. Each took advantage of free agency to sign with a new team after success somewhere else. However, none are expected to be as productive as either Kelce or Kittle, so they are several tiers below them.

PlayerYearly SalaryYears2021 Projected Points2021 DD/PT
Austin Hooper, CLE$10,500,0003166.1$63,215
Hunter Henry, NE$12,500,0003176.9$70,661
Jonnu Smith, NE$12,500,0004158.1$79,064

The projections of roughly 100.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points less than both Kelce (274.0) and Kittle (263.5) means they have higher DD/PT values. That’s the problem as they are being paid nearly as much as Kelce and Kittle, while producing far fewer points. There are other expensive and less productive TEs out there (Tier 13), but their salaries make these three players less desirable than the TEs in earlier tiers.

Tier 10 – Disappointing 2017 First Round Picks Making $6.013 Million in 2021

Take your pick of these three guys. All of them are 25 or 26 years old, were drafted in the first round of the 2017 NFL draft, and are playing on their fifth year option salary of $6.013 million. None has really lived up to that lofty draft selection, but could play well in 2021 and find themselves with a nice payday in 2022. Or they could end up signing for one year and less money with a new team in 2022 after a poor season in 2021.

PlayerYearly SalaryYears2021 Projected Points2021 DD/PT
Evan Engram, NYG$6,013,0001145.5$41,326
O.J. Howard, TB$6,013,0001144.3$41,670
David Njoku, CLE$6,013,0001107.6$55,883

Tier 11 – Cheap Rookie Flyers

Here’s a collection of cheap rookie flyers who might break out (or might not). All of them were drafted in the third to fifth round of the 2021 NFL draft (interestingly, there were no TEs drafted in the sixth or seventh rounds), except Kenny Yeobah who was not drafted. That explains why his salary is more than $100,000 less than the rest and he is only signed for three, not four years.

PlayerYearly SalaryYears2021 Projected Points2021 DD/PT
Kenny Yeboah, NYJ$815,000358.7$13,884
Jacob Harris, LA$994,836455.2$18,022
Tommy Tremble, CAR$1,231,608449.6$24,831
Hunter Long, MIA$1,242,176442$29,576
Kylen Granson, IND$1,046,592421$49,838
Noah Gray, KC$948,444415.5$61,190
Zach Davidson, MIN$945,442413.1$72,171
John Bates, WAS$1,050,604411.6$90,569
Tre McKitty, LAC$1,196,46240.0N/A
Luke Farrell, JAC$959,50540.0N/A

They could turn out to be another George Kittle (49ers’ fifth round pick in 2017), or they could be the next Devin Asiasi, Dalton Keene or Josiah Deguara. All of three of those players were drafted in the third round of the 2020 NFL draft and proceeded to score few Dynasty Owner fantasy points during the 2020 season and are listed as no better than third string right now. They are our next tier.

Tier 12 – Cheap TEs Drafted Recently Who Didn’t Pan Out as Rookies

Here’s a collection of cheap TEs who would have been in Tier 9 last year, or maybe even Tier 5, but because they did next to nothing in their rookie seasons, have been dropped down several tiers. Sternberger did nothing in his rookie season in 2019 with 0.0 Dynasty Owner fantasy points and only had 29.6 points in his second season, hence his appearance here.

PlayerYearly SalaryYears2021 Projected Points2021 DD/PT
Dalton Keene, NE$1,124,851360.4$18,623
Jace Sternberger, GB$966,382234.0$28,423
Devin Asiasi, NE$1,145,705337.5$30,552
Josiah Deguara, GB$1,136,94130.0N/A

Two Packers and two Patriots. None are likely to do much in 2021 as the Patriots went out and signed Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith to big, multi-year contracts, while the Packers re-signed Robert Tonyan and Marcedes Lewis. If any Dynasty Owners still have these guys on their roster, they likely drafted them last year and are sticking with them because of the affordable contract.

Tier 13 – Overpaid Veterans to Avoid Having on Your Roster

None of these guys are worth drafting in your 2021 Dynasty Owner start-up draft, or holding on to on your roster in an established league. They cost too much at a minimum of $6 million per year, are projected to finish outside of the Top 35 TEs in 2021 and none is the clear starter for their NFL team. While all of them are projected to score more points than any of the TEs in the previous two tiers, their salaries make them too expensive to justify having on a Dynasty Owner roster.

PlayerYearly SalaryYears2021 Projected Points2021 DD/PT
Jack Doyle, IND$7,100,000298.8$71,862
Cameron Brate, TB$6,800,000389.6$75,893
Kyle Rudolph, NYG$6,000,000270.3$85,349
C.J. Uzomah, CIN$6,100,000162.7$97,289

Three out of the four are 30 years old or more and have two or more years left on their contracts (Uzomah is “only” 28 and has just one year left). Dynasty Owners are heeding the title of this tier as all four of them are currently owned in less than 10% of Dynasty Owner leagues. Uzomah is the youngest and least costly of the four TEs, since he only has one year left on his contract, but is projected to score the fewest points and is the only one who has 0% ownership.

Conclusion

TE tiers are in the books! There are lots of tiers, mainly because of the differences among the most productive and coveted TEs out there. We did cover a lot of the TEs available in Dynasty Owner, while leaving out all of the veteran free agents who have yet to sign for the 2021 season since it’s difficult to slot them without knowing their salary or team. There are a lot of young cheap TEs out there as well who are not likely to score much, but are there if you need a cheap Practice Squad stash. The only position left to tier is WR and that will be the topic for next week. Let me know what you think of these TE tiers on Twitter (@SteveVT33) or in the comments section on YouTube.

In addition to more tiers, Dynasty Owner has other great content to help you draft your dynasty. We can also provide guidance as you continue to tweak your roster after your rookie or start-up draft is over so you can win your league. My articles and videos to get you ready for your 2021 Dynasty Owner start-up league team are being released on Wednesdays. Keep an eye out for new articles from the rest of our team of Dynasty Owner writers as well. Matt Morrison – The Jerk (@Dynastyjerk) is doing a deep dive on individual teams that you can check out on Mondays, while Jay Pounds (@jaypoundsnfl) looks at how to rebuild your Dynasty Owner roster on Fridays. All of the articles will be released at 1 PM (Eastern) with videos and podcast released at 3 PM (Eastern).

Please read all of their articles and follow all three of us plus Dynasty Owner (@Dynasty_Owner) on Twitter. Hopefully this article is helpful for everyone who has a 2021 start-up draft coming soon, and at least interesting for those of you who have already drafted or have an established team. Maybe it’ll give you and other Dynasty Owners some ideas for potential trades too. Thanks, and have a great day!

Steven Van Tassell is the Head of Content for Dynasty Owner

Follow us on Twitter: @SteveVT33 and @Dynasty_Owner

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