Zach Ertz put together a record-setting 2018 season on his way to his second straight Pro Bowl
When it comes to the top tight ends and fullbacks in the NFL, there's one familiar name you will no longer find listed. Rob Gronkowski's retirement means there's a new No. 1 leading off Athlon Sports' top 20 at the two positions entering the 2019 season.
And that guy is Zach Ertz, who was one of three tight ends to eclipse the 1,000-yard mark in 2018. He's followed by other two – Travis Kelce and George Kittle – both of whom also enjoyed record-setting seasons.
As for the rest, some new faces can be found among the top 10 and two fullbacks also land in that range.
Athlon's player rankings are just one of the features that appear in the 2019 NFL Preview magazine.
2019 NFL Tight End and Fullback Rankings
1. Zach Ertz, Philadelphia
Shattered the NFL's single-season receiving record for tight ends with 116 grabs for 1,163 yards and eight TDs. His 437 career catches are also the most ever by a tight end through his first six seasons.
2. Travis Kelce, Kansas City
Eclipsing single-season franchise records for catches (103) and yards (1,336) set by 2019 first-ballot Hall of Fame selection Tony Gonzalez highlighted Kelce's third straight 1,000-yard receiving campaign. Particularly adept at out routes, with his biggest strength the ability to create downfield mismatches.
3. George Kittle, San Francisco
Stunned the NFL by coming out of nowhere to break the league's single-season receiving yardage record for a tight end (1,377). Making this feat even more impressive, Kittle was forced to work with three different 49ers quarterbacks (Jimmy Garoppolo, C.J. Beathard and Nick Mullens) along the way.
4. Eric Ebron, Indianapolis
Whether prompted by a change of scenery or a better professional approach than what he delivered in Detroit, Ebron finally showcased why he was the 10th overall pick in the 2014 draft. His 13 TD catches led all tight ends in 2018 and tied for second among all pass catchers.
5. Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota
The negative — he almost certainly won't be compiling his first 1,000-yard receiving season unless there is a considerable role change in the Vikings' new Gary Kubiak/Kevin Stefanski offense. The positive — he's an effective blocker who should be a more attractive red zone target after catching only four TD passes in 2018.
6. Kyle Juszczyk (FB), San Francisco
His versatility as rusher, receiver and blocker inspired head coach Kyle Shanahan to give Juszczyk 663 snaps — far more than any other fullback in the NFL and second among all 49ers skill position players behind tight end George Kittle (929). "He's pretty unique," one scouting director says.
7. Austin Hooper, Atlanta
Yet another tight end who has made Stanford the college epicenter for the position among NFL teams. Caught a career-high 71 passes, but it would behoove new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter to try and raise Hooper's 9.3 yards-per-reception average and generate more than four TDs as a red zone target.
8. Jared Cook, New Orleans
Raiders head coach Jon Gruden got more out of Cook receiving-wise (68 catches for 896 yards and six touchdowns) than in any of his previous nine NFL seasons. Could flourish with the Saints if used in a similar fashion as Jimmy Graham.
9. Evan Engram, New York Giants
He’s publicly embracing the 2019 challenge of trying to replace the offensive production lost by the Giants' offseason trade of Odell Beckham Jr. to Cleveland. Battled through injuries much of last season but showcased his playmaking skills in the final three games with 19 catches for 243 yards and a touchdown.
10. James Develin (FB), New England
The Patriots took a page from the past and frequently deployed "22 personnel" with devastating effect when pairing Develin and running back Sony Michel in a two-tight end package with Rob Gronkowski and Dwayne Allen. Paved the way for Michel on the only touchdown scored in New England's Super Bowl 53 win over the Los Angeles Rams.
11. Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers
12. David Njoku, Cleveland
13. Delanie Walker, Tennessee
14. Jimmy Graham, Green Bay
15. Greg Olsen, Carolina
16. Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh
17. Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay
18. Trey Burton, Chicago
19. Jesse James, Detroit
20. Mark Andrews, Baltimore