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Older tight ends

Will Kelce keep it up?

I'll be drafting Sam LaPorta as my top tight end; indeed, I already have. Travis Kelce is awesome, but there were signs of decline last year. He turns 35 in October. How much longer can he realistically put up top numbers?

Kelce himself has other stuff going on. There's a relationship with a fairly popular recording artist, and he's got some media commitments and the like. But he says he's still committed to playing football, and plans to play out at least his current two-year contract.

The question, of course, is whether top numbers are possible for a 35- and 36-year-old tight end. The pessimist would say it's really rare. The optimist will say it has been done.

Tony Gonalez, who also spent some years with Kansas City, is Exhibit A. Gonzalez put up top-5 numbers in PPR leagues at 35, 36 and 37 years old. A little more recently, both Benjamin Watson and Jason Witten finished in the top 10.

Like I said, I don't expect to be selecting Kelce. I'll go with a younger guy, or I'll wait a little on the position. But I see no reason to think he won't be a Gonzalez type putting up elite numbers for another couple of years. It's been done, and he's the kind of player who will probably be the next one doing it.

Table shows all tight end aged 35 or older who have ranked at least in the top 30 at the position since 2000. Obviously, nobody in 1-TE leagues wants to draft a player who ranked 25th at the position. But 11 of those guys ranked in the top 12. Kelce has played his best football, but he's still going to be pretty great.

2013Tony Gonzalez, Atl.371218385982
2012Tony Gonzalez, Atl.361249393082
2003Shannon Sharpe, Den.35946277082
2011Tony Gonzalez, Atl.351168087574
2015Benjamin Watson, N.O.351107482567
2017Jason Witten, Dall.35876356059
2019Jason Witten, Dall.378363529411
2017Benjamin Watson, Balt.377961522411
2001Wesley Walls, Car.357343452511
2016Antonio Gates, S.D.369353548712
2015Antonio Gates, S.D.358556630512
2018Benjamin Watson, N.O.384635400221
2018Antonio Gates, LAC384528333226
2002Wesley Walls, Car.363619241426
2017Antonio Gates, LAC375230316328
2007Marcus Pollard, Sea.353528273230

--Andy Richardson

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