Did you know: Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Antonio Gates, Tony Gonzalez, and Travis Kelce make up as many top 40 tight end fantasy seasons as the rest of all tight ends in NFL history combined! We’re back for part IV of the Fantasy Football One-Hit Wonders series and today we are looking at the tight end position. If you missed the first three parts and want to check out which quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers are the biggest fantasy football one-hit wonders, here is Part I, Part II, and Part III.
Tight End Fantasy Football One-Hit Wonders
2015 Stats: 87 receptions – 952 receiving yards – 11 receiving touchdowns
2015 Fantasy Ranks: Tight End: 3 / Overall: 13
2014 Stats: 51 receptions – 774 receiving yards – 8 receiving touchdowns
2014 Fantasy Ranks: Tight End: 6 / Overall: 40
2011 Stats: 55 receptions – 767 receiving yards – 8 receiving touchdowns
2011 Fantasy Ranks: Tight End: 5 / Overall: 47
2013 Stats: 69 receptions – 759 receiving yards – 6 receiving touchdowns– 7 rushing attempts – 15 rush yards – 1 rush touchdowns
2013 Fantasy Ranks: Tight End: 6 / Overall: 45
The Top Five
5. Brent Celek
This one is near and dear to my heart as Celek was a breakout call of mine in 2009 and helped me win my first championship in my longest-running home league. After being drafted 162nd overall in the 2007 NFL Draft, Celek spent most of his first two years as a role player, flashing potential. Celek especially shined in the 2008 playoffs when he had 19 catches which are third-most all-time by a tight end.
Heading into the 2009 season, all signs were pointing up for Celek. He was coming off a great playoff run and starter L.J. Smith left in free agency, leaving the starting position wide open for Celek. Celek was able to capitalize to the tune of 76 receptions, 971 yards, and eight touchdowns.
Celek’s TE4 finish in the 2009 season was the only year of his 11-year career that he finished inside the top 10 at the position. His 31st overall ranking was by far his best ranking and one of only two times he finished above replacement level, despite only missing one game his entire career. Celek’s 2009 season makes him of one the greatest fantasy football one-hit wonders of all time at the tight end position.
2009 Stats: 76 receptions – 971 receiving yards – 8 receiving touchdowns
2009 Fantasy Ranks: Tight End: 4 / Overall: 31
4. Eric Ebron
A more recent entry, Ebron’s big year came just a couple years ago and he’s still active, so he still has a chance to get his name removed from this list with just one more good season in his career. In 2014, the Detroit Lions made Ebron the 10th overall pick. He spent the next four years with the Lions mostly not living up to the lofty expectations that come with being the tenth overall pick.
Heading into the 2018 season, Ebron met with the Colts and Panthers, ultimately signing a contract with the Indianapolis Colts. That decision turned out to be the right one as he was able to develop an instant rapport with Andrew Luck, on his way to 66 receptions, 750 yards, and 13 touchdowns. The production was fueled very heavily by the touchdown total as his 13 touchdowns were more than he had in his four years in Detroit… COMBINED (11).
Ebron’s TE4 finish in 2018 was far better than any other year of his career so far as was his 156 fantasy points. His next best finish so far has been TE13 and 84 fantasy points. Both of those are a huge drop from the 2018 production. Ebron is still active so if he can put together one good season, he can avoid going down as one of the top fantasy football one-hit wonders ever at tight end.
2018 Stats: 66 receptions – 750 receiving yards – 13 receiving touchdowns
2018 Fantasy Ranks: Tight End: 4 / Overall: 20
From one touchdown-dependent tight end to another, Lewis was a first-round pick as well when he was selected 28th overall by the Jacksonville Jaguars in the 2006 NFL Draft. The similarities don’t stop there either as both had their breakout year in their fifth year. However, Lewis was able to do it for the team that originally drafted him.
Heading into the 2010 season, Marcedes had been pretty disappointing in his first four years topping out at two touchdowns in a single season. Apparently, Lewis decided to save all his touchdowns for 2010 as he was able to break out for 58 receptions, 700 yards, and 10 touchdowns. The 10 touchdowns were more than his entire career to that point combined and matched a Jaguars single-season record.
Lewis was not able to sustain that production moving forward and can’t even blame it on injuries as he played a full year in the next two seasons. His TE4 finish in 2010 was the only year of his 14-year career that he finished better than TE17 and the only year he was above replacement level overall. He scored 130 fantasy points that year and was never able to top even 78 in a single season again, making Lewis one of the biggest fantasy football one-hit wonders of all time at the tight end position.
2010 Stats: 58 receptions– 700 receiving yards – 10 receiving touchdowns
2010 Fantasy Ranks: Tight End: 4 / Overall: 42
As a Cleveland Browns fan, why can’t we ever have nice things for very long? Jordan Cameron was drafted 102nd overall in the 2011 NFL Draft and was considered a project as a tight end that had incredible athleticism at his size. Cameron spent the first two seasons of his career as a role player flashing promise at times.
Heading into the 2013 season, Cameron was lined up to be the full-time starter and was looking to capitalize on that promise and upside he had flashed at times and capitalize he did! Cameron broke out for a massive 80 reception, 917 yards, and seven touchdown season on his way to a Pro Bowl appearance at age 25. Unfortunately, what looked like it could be a start to a very promising career turned out to be the pinnacle as Cameron could not shake the injury bug.
Cameron’s 134 fantasy points in 2013 placed him as the TE4 and 33rd overall ranked player. He was never again able to be above replacement level and the closest he ever got to that TE4 finish was TE22. Those 134 points also made up more than 46 percent of his six-year career total making Cameron one of the biggest fantasy football one-hit wonders ever at tight end.
2013 Stats: 80 receptions– 917 receiving yards – 7 receiving touchdowns
2013 Fantasy Ranks: Tight End: 4 / Overall: 33
Of course, a list filled with the biggest fantasy football one-hit wonders would never be complete if there wasn’t a Cleveland Brown topping that list. Barnidge is by far the craziest, most extreme breakout on this list. Drafted 141st overall in the 2008 NFL Draft by the Carolina Panthers, Barnidge was primarily making an impact as a blocker and on special teams.
Even after signing with the Browns in 2013, Barnidge spent his first two years with the Browns as primarily a blocking tight end and role player. In 2015, out of nowhere, Barnidge had a career year by compiling 79 receptions, 1,043 yards, and nine touchdowns. To put in perspective how truly incredible this was, to that point in Barnidge’s career, the most receptions and touchdowns he ever had in a season was 13 and two. He only had 44 receptions and three touchdowns in his entire career combined heading into that age-30 season.
Barnidge finished as the TE2 and 12th overall player in 2015 with 158 fantasy points. He never was above replacement level in any other year of his career and only had one year better than even a TE45 finish. With only 312 fantasy points over his eight seasons played, Barnidge’s magical 2015 accounted for more than half of his entire career fantasy points. Barnidge’s combination of a late-career breakout, massive season, and a quick fall-off allow him to reign supreme among the biggest fantasy football one-hit wonders ever among all tight ends.
2015 Stats: 79 receptions – 1,043 receiving yards – 9 receiving touchdowns
2015 Fantasy Ranks: Tight End: 2 / Overall: 12