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Dynasty Leagues

Long-term tight end rankings

Detroit rookie looks like up-and-comer at the position

That was a nice debut game for Sam LaPorta. He had 5 passes thrown his way, and he caught all of them. Only one rookie tight end in the last 20 years has done that in his first game. Only three have opened by catching even more passes.

Typically, tight ends tend to start slowly. Since the move to 32 teams, only 13 other tight ends have caught 4-plus passes in their first games. None of these catches were super eye-catching; they were shorter, simple catches (for only 39 total yards). But in general, LaPorta looks like he’s going to be a good tight end for a lot of years.

ROOKIE TIGHT ENDS WITH 3 CATCHES IN FIRST GAME
YearPlayerOppResultTgtNoYdsTD
2019T.J. Hockenson, Det.at Ari.T 27-27961311
2012Coby Fleener, Ind.at Chi.L 21-41106820
2010Jermaine Gresham, Cin.at N.E.L 24-38106251
2023Sam LaPorta, Det.at K.C.W 21-2055390
2017George Kittle, S.F.Car.L 3-2365270
2013Tyler Eifert, Cin.at Chi.L 21-2455470
2013Jordan Reed, Was.Phil.L 27-3365380
2006Vernon Davis, S.F.at Ari.L 27-3485371
2021Kyle Pitts, Atl.Phil.L 6-3284310
2017Evan Engram, NYGat Dall.L 3-1954440
2008John Carlson, Sea.at Buff.L 10-3444520
2005Alex Smith, T.B.at Min.W 24-1354342
2004Kellen Winslow, Cle.Balt.W 20-364390
2002Randy McMichael, Mia.Det.W 49-2154731
2018Will Dissly, Sea.at Den.L 24-27531051
2018Mark Andrews, Balt.Buff.W 47-343310
2016Stephen Anderson, Hou.Chi.W 23-1433250
2013Joseph Fauria, Det.Min.W 34-2433271
2010Tony Moeaki, K.C.S.D.W 21-1443211
2007Zach Miller, Oak.Det.L 21-3663230
2002Jeremy Shockey, NYGS.F.L 13-1673440
2002Jerramy Stevens, Sea.at Oak.L 17-3143180

Statistics compiled using search tools at Pro-Football-Reference.com

In the measuring of the rookie tight ends, I think there are three notable ones, and for now, I like LaPorta more than Dalton Kincaid and Luke Musgrave. (Michael Mayer, I think, is a notch back from those guys; and Luke Schoonmaker looks more like a down-the-road guy, stuck behind Jake Ferguson for now.)

The Thursday night game also featured another notable tight end. Travis Kelce was sidelined by a knee injury, but he’s put up some of the best-ever numbers at the position. With Kelce turning 34 in October, I think it’s fair to compare these tight ends in a long-term sense.

In a dynasty league, would you rather have an end-of-his-career Kelce (who’ll probably be the most productive tight end this year and could have multiple other great seasons)? Or would you rather have one of these up-and-comers, who are just starting off the careers?

I think the answer is still Kelce. There is always a steady supply of good players flowing in at the position, with a couple new possible top 10 tight ends showing up every year. Musgrave, for example, wasn’t a coveted tight end in typical dynasty drafts (I think). But trying to latch onto that difference-maker guy who’ll be one of the top 2 at the position, that’s what we’re shooting for.

If Kelce is the No. 1 tight end this year and No. 2 next year, then walking away from the game, I would take that over the promise that LaPorta or Musgrave would rank between 6th and 10th at tight end in each of the next 10 years.

DYNASTY TIGHT ENDS
RkTmPlayerAge
1.BALMark Andrews28.0
2.KCTravis Kelce33.9
3.MINT.J. Hockenson26.2
4.DET• Sam LaPorta22.7
5.ATLKyle Pitts22.9
6.PITPat Freiermuth24.9
7.PHIDallas Goedert28.7
8.JACEvan Engram29.0
9.BUF• Dalton Kincaid23.9
10.SFGeorge Kittle29.9
11.GB• Luke Musgrave23.0
12.NYGDarren Waller31.0
13.CHICole Kmet24.5
14.CLEDavid Njoku27.2
15.TENChigoziem Okonkwo24.0
16.DALJake Ferguson24.6
17.CINIrv Smith25.1
18.NOJuwan Johnson27.0
19.BUFDawson Knox26.8
20.LV• Michael Mayer22.2
21.NEHunter Henry28.8
22.HOUDalton Schultz27.2
23.LACGerald Everett29.2
24.CARHayden Hurst30.0
25.TBCade Otton24.4
26.DENGreg Dulcich23.5
27.INDJelani Woods24.9
28.LARTyler Higbee30.7
29.ARITrey McBride23.8
30.BALIsaiah Likely23.4
31.SEANoah Fant25.8
32.DAL• Luke Schoonmaker24.9
33.INDKylen Granson25.5
34.NYJTyler Conklin28.1
35.WASCole Turner23.5
36.NEMike Gesicki27.9
37.DENAdam Trautman26.6
38.WASLogan Thomas32.2
39.KCNoah Gray24.4
40.PIT• Darnell Washington22.1

I turn my attention to dynasty leagues each Saturday during the regular season, rotating between the four notable positions. Rankings assume PPR scoring and assume teams would hold players indefinitely. In the list above, rookies tagged with black dots.

—Ian Allan

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