Despite the summer stress over late-round sleepers, fantasy football has, and always will be, dominated by superstars. It’s one thing for a player to enjoy a great season; in a league as brutal as the NFL, maintaining elite status for several years is nearly impossible.
The few gifted individuals to lead their position in production for five seasons or more are fantasy legends. Marshall Faulk and LaDainian Tomlinson led the way for running backs at the turn of the century, while Randy Moss and Marvin Harrison set the mark for the league’s current generation of superhuman wideouts. Modern stars like Christian McCaffrey and Justin Jefferson have been league-winners, but neither has turned 30 yet.
Noticeably absent from those names are tight ends, everyone’s least favorite position. For every Tony Gonzalez or Rob Gronkowski, the TE spot is typically more of a burden than a boon.
That’s what makes Travis Kelce so remarkable. For all the Taylor Swift talk this year, the Kansas City star has never been better on the field, averaging the second-most yards per game (87.5) of his career. It’s not just the eye-popping stats or remarkable individual performances, such as Sunday’s 175-yard masterclass against the Chargers; Kelce’s positional advantage over his peers is unmatched in NFL history.
Leading The Pack
When assessing what makes a player dominant, superiority over their peers is a major factor. In this regard, the past 23 years of fantasy football skill position leaders show that Kelce is unmatched. The Chiefs tight end has the most full seasons leading a positional group (six), while only Tony Gonzalez (five), Marvin Harrison (four), and Antonio Brown (four) have more than three.
In addition to his consistency, Kelce also had the second-most dominant season on the list last year, outscoring the next-best tight end by 99.9 PPR points. Only Christian McCaffrey’s insane 2019 season had a larger gap between first and second (156.4 points).
Although it’s fair to argue that finishing near the top means more for running backs or receivers, considering their higher level of competition, Kelce remains the ultimate trump card. While most managers have been stuck scrounging the waiver wire for a tight end that can score a handful of points, Kansas City’s superstar has delivered WR1 production. Since Kelce’s first 1,000-yard season in 2016, the tight end ranks third in receiving yards and second in receptions among all players, with a real chance to catch up to first when it’s all said and done.
The statistical dominance doesn’t stop there. Since 2000, Larry Fitzgerald has recorded the most career PPR points (3,906.1), averaging 14.85 per game. Kelce’s career totals pale in comparison, with just 2,395.5 points. However, Kelce’s 15.97 points per game puts him in rare territory. Of the players post-2000 with at least 150 career games, Kelce ranks ninth in PPR points per game.
Among tight ends, only Tony Gonzalez (13.03 ppg) comes within three points of Kelce’s average. Even if we factor in a slight dip in his production down the road, Kelce has already earned his status as the greatest fantasy tight end ever. What comes next will determine how far he can climb up the ranks of RBs and WRs.
Fantasy Hall of Famer
What criteria should be used to determine the fantasy football GOAT?
Eye-popping career numbers? Tomlinson’s lifetime mark of 20.37 fantasy points per game makes him tough to beat. An insane peak? McCaffrey, Priest Holmes, and Michael Thomas have all enjoyed historic, league-winning seasons. What about consistency? Larry Fitzgerald was a PPR monster well into his thirties.
A few players have put up more fantasy points, but none have consistently dwarfed the production of their position-mates like Travis Kelce. His longevity, combined with elite wide receiver-quality production, has created a literal cheat code at tight end. It’s the fantasy equivalent of cruising in a Ferrari while the rest of the league is stuck in a Civic.
Currently on pace for his second-best season ever, it’s impossible to forecast when Kelce will slow down. Given his connection with Patrick Mahomes and K.C.’s willingness to use him as their top option in the passing game, there’s no reason to believe Kelce won’t put up a few more TE1 seasons before heading to Canton. The offseason relationship drama will continue to dominate headlines, but remember to appreciate the work of one of fantasy’s greatest assets.