Top tight ends in NFL: 49ers’ George Kittle is No. 1, but who else?

George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images)
George Kittle #85 of the San Francisco 49ers (Photo by Mark Brown/Getty Images) /
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Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
Travis Kelce #87 of the Kansas City Chiefs (Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images) /

NFL’s top tight ends, No. 2: Travis Kelce, Chiefs

2019 Pro Football Focus Grade: 85.1

Football Outsiders DVOA: 14.8 percent

97 receptions, 1,229 yards and five touchdowns

While George Kittle was still on the rise, Travis Kelce was long shadowing now-Tampa Bay Buccaneers tight end Rob Gronkowski for the No. 1 spot among the list of top tight ends in the league.

Kelce even broke Gronk’s single-season record for most receiving yards by a tight end back in 2018, only to see Kittle break it again a few hours later. But for those hurt by Kelce being No. 2 on this particular list, at least he has a Super Bowl ring. There’s the consolation prize, and it’s a good one.

For fantasy football owners, Kelce is likely the better choice. The Chiefs prolific offense is going to do a lot of damage in a number of different areas, but Kelce remains a top target for quarterback Patrick Mahomes, both in terms of receptions, yards and touchdowns. While Kelce did see a drop in end-zone production last season, going from 10 touchdowns in 2018 to five last year, there’s little reason to suspect he’ll be just as dangerous going forward.

And that’s one of those reasons why Kansas City didn’t hesitate to answer Kittle’s extension with one of its own for Kelce.

Kelce isn’t quite the blocker as Kittle, however, earning a 62.2 overall grade in run blocking, per Pro Football Focus. And his Football Outsiders DVOA is a bit lower, too. While he did eclipse Kittle’s yards-after-the-catch stat by putting up 634 yards, it’s important to note Kelce did so over two additional regular-season games.

So, if you were starting an NFL team and couldn’t have Kittle, Kelce would be a wise No. 2 choice to fill this position.