The Dallas Cowboys take on a deep slate of Tight Ends this year, as several notable intra-division names like Dallas Goedert and Logan Thomas don’t even make the top-five toughest matchups. If Aaron Rodgers was inexplicably traded to the Broncos tomorrow (you never know) Noah Fant would jump up to No. 3 on this list, but with their current QB options he also just misses out. This just shows you how tough the upcoming schedule is going to be.
No. 5 Rob Gronkowski – Week 1 at Tampa Bay
It was tough to pick the final Tight End to squeeze in the top five, as there are several other solid options the Cowboys will match up with this season. But as it stands today, it is Tampa Bay’s Rob Gronkowski. Not only did he come on strong as a receiver down the stretch last year, his impact as a run-blocker is still elite.
After taking a year off, he came back in 2020 to finish with 623 yards and 7 touchdowns on 45 catches. He added another eight catches for 110 yards and two TDs in the playoffs during their Super Bowl run, but his blocking was a big part of the reason for Leonard Fournette’s playoff breakout that saw him go for 300 yards and 3 touchdowns on 64 carries (4.7 Yards Per Carry).
No. 4 – Kyle Pitts – Week 10 at Dallas
While it may seem aggressive to include a player that has never taken an NFL snap this high on the list, there are a lot of people that know more about football than me that are sold on Kyle Pitts making an immediate impact for the Falcons this season. I’m going to trust them on this one.
When you turn on Kyle Pitts’ college tape you can see exactly why everyone is enamored with this guy. He towered over college defenders and routinely broke away from cornerbacks and safeties with his ridiculous speed. He finished his final season at Florida with 43 catches for 770 yards and 12 TDs. Most impressively, he had zero dropped passes on 65 targets.
No. 3 – Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry – Week 6 at New England
Instead of taking up two spots in the top five for both Patriots Tight Ends, we’re going to group them together and give them the No. 3 spot on the list. Regardless of who is under center at QB in New England, they will have two brand new weapons in Jonnu Smith and Hunter Henry to anchor the new-look offense.
Hunter Henry was solid again in 2020, catching 60 passes for 613 yards and four TDs. Jonnu Smith regularly showcased his freak athleticism from the TE spot, hauling in 41 catches for 448 yards and 8 TDs. Henry and Smith’s games complement each other perfectly, and I see no scenario where these two don’t lead the Patriots in receiving yards this season.
No. 2 – Darren Waller – Week 12 At Dallas
This will be the Cowboy’s first real look up-close at Darren Waller when they take on the Las Vegas Raiders in a Thanksgiving showdown in Dallas. Waller’s comeback story is truly remarkable, and he followed up his solid 2019 campaign with an even bigger 2020.
Waller finished last season with 107 catches, 1,196, and nine TDs. When served an even larger share of targets (147), he showed he was one of the most steady and consistent pass-catchers in the league, lowering his drop percentage to 2.8 from 4.3 in 2019.
No. 1 – Travis Kelce – Week 11 at Kansas City
There is no one you hate to see more lined up across from you than #87 for the Kansas City Chiefs, Travis Kelce. Unfortunately for the Cowboys, they will have the tall task of trying to stop Patrick Mahomes’ favorite target when they head to Arrowhead Stadium for what is predicted to be the highest-scoring game in the NFL this season.
Travis Kelce was absolutely dominant again in 2020, hauling in 105 catches for 1,416 yards and 11 touchdowns. The Chiefs didn’t go out of their way to bring in any more explosive playmakers in the draft or free agency, so there’s no reason to think he won’t continue to see around 145 targets moving forward like he did last season.