Last year was a down one for the tight end position. Only 11 averaged double-digit fantasy points in PPR scoring, making it difficult to find quality weekly starters in many leagues. But there has been and will be some movement at the position around the league this fall, which should increase the number of viable starters. The Irv Smith-Kyle Rudolph tandem is the latest example.

Minnesota released Kyle Rudolph yesterday. A year ago Irv Smith caught 30 passes and 5 touchdowns, while Rudolph caught 28 and 1. Minnesota will still use a second tight end, but reasonable to think that Smith, the team's second-round pick in 2019, will take on a greater share of the workload, and be a possible breakout player at the position. Rudolph himself could quite reasonably sign somewhere as a starter. He's 31 years old, but no reason to think he's lost much. He was a top tight end in each of the three years before Smith was drafted. Put him on a team like New England, and he could be a top-10 tight end again.

Smith-Rudolph is just one of the situations that could play out favorably around the league, for those hoping for more viable tight end starters. Last week we mentioned Tyler Higbee and Gerald Everett, with Everett heading for free agency. Jonnu Smith could leave the Titans and Hunter Henry could leave the Chargers, potentially elevating backups Anthony Firkser and Donald Parham into starting, featured roles. Zach Ertz has reportedly been shopped by the Eagles. Greg Olsen retired, while the Jaguars released Tyler Eifert. The draft and free agency will play a factor in some of these cities (just saw a report suggesting Rudolph might be interested in Cleveland, which would help no one), but it's exciting to think of some shared jobs in 2020 yielding multiple starters in 2021.

Table below shows the top 50 PPR tight ends from last season, on a per-game basis (tight ends who played at least eight games). In bold are players who could be in for a nice uptick in value based on free agent departures or retirements, both recent and expected.

Travis Kelce, K.C.15145105141613.511314.821.0
Darren Waller, L.V.16145107119611.29282.617.7
George Kittle, S.F.8634863413.22125.115.6
Mark Andrews, Balt.14885870112.17170.112.2
T.J. Hockenson, Det.161016772310.86177.311.1
Logan Thomas, Was.16110726709.36176.911.1
Robert Tonyan, G.B.16595258611.311176.611.0
Mike Gesicki, Mia.15855370313.36159.310.6
Dallas Goedert, Phil.11654652411.43116.410.6
Hunter Henry, LAC14936061310.24145.310.4
Noah Fant, Den.15936267310.93149.310.0
Eric Ebron, Pitt.15915655810.05143.89.6
Jonnu Smith, Ten.15654144810.98140.29.3
Rob Gronkowski, T.B.16774562313.87149.39.3
Hayden Hurst, Atl.16885657110.26149.19.3
Dalton Schultz, Dall.1689636159.84148.59.3
Jimmy Graham, Chi.1676504569.18143.69.0
Evan Engram, NYG161096365410.411438.9
Austin Hooper, Cle.1370464359.54113.58.7
Jared Cook, N.O.15603750413.67129.48.6
Tyler Higbee, LAR15604452111.85128.28.5
Irv Smith, Min.13433036512.2598.57.6
Jordan Reed, S.F.1046262318.9473.17.3
Zach Ertz, Phil.1172363359.3177.57.0
Jordan Akins, Hou.13493740310.9183.76.4
Trey Burton, Ind.1347282508.9383.36.4
Dan Arnold, Ariz.16453143814.1498.86.2
Gerald Everett, LAR16624141710.2194.95.9
Dawson Knox, Buff.12442428812.0370.85.9
Kyle Rudolph, Min.12372833411.9167.45.6
Tyler Eifert, Jac.1560363499.7282.95.5
Mo Alie-Cox, Ind.15393139412.7282.45.5
Anthony Firkser, Ten.1653393879.9183.75.2
Drew Sample, Cin.1653403498.7180.95.1
Richard Rodgers, Phil.14312434514.4270.55.0
Greg Olsen, Sea.11372423910.0153.94.9
Chris Herndon, NYJ1645312879.3377.74.9
Darren Fells, Hou.16282131214.9476.24.8
Jack Doyle, Ind.14332325110.9366.14.7
Harrison Bryant, Cle.1538242389.9365.84.4
Cameron Brate, T.B.16342828210.1268.24.3
Tyler Kroft, Buff.1016121199.9341.94.2
Jacob Hollister, Sea.1640252098.4365.94.1
David Njoku, Cle.13291921311.2252.34.0
Cole Kmet, Chi.1644282438.72644.0
Durham Smythe, Mia.1529262088.0258.83.9
Will Dissly, Sea.16292425110.5261.13.8
James O'Shaughnessy, Jac.1538282629.4054.23.6
Donald Parham, LAC13201015915.9343.93.4
Pharaoh Brown, Hou.13161416311.6242.33.3

Other possibilities for developments include Jimmy Graham in Chicago and Jared Cook in New Orleans. Cap realities, and youngsters behind them, could have both released in the coming days.

I think it's going to be a very interesting offseason for the position, with a lot more potential starters in 2021 than there were last year.

--Andy Richardson