*** Rankings below based on 0.5 PPR leagues
Updated August 31, 2023
1. Travis Kelce, KC
For anyone who thought that Travis Kelce was getting up there in age, precipitating an imminent decline, well…you will be right someday! That wasn’t the case for 2022, and guessing here 2023 will also be a robust year for the league’s top tight end.
Kelce needs to be selected in the first round, with pick 5 being the appropriate ceiling.
2. Mark Andrews, BAL
3. TJ Hockenson, DET
Mark Andrews had a disappointing 2022 statistical campaign – at least in comparison to the sky high expectations folks had. Injuries served as the primary reason, both to Andrews and also to QB Lamar Jackson. Still, Andrews had 73 catches and 847 yards in a ‘down’ year. Look for Andrews to revert back to the 1,000 yard plateau and 90 receptions.
TJ Hockenson finally emerged to elite level play in his fourth NFL season, hauling in 86 passes in his time between the Lions and the Vikings. The trade to Minnesota unlocked Hock, as he had 10 plus targets in half of his games for the Vikings. With Adam Thielen now in Carolina, Hockenson sits in the second chair for Kirk Cousins’ targets, trailing only WR Justin Jefferson.
The tier 2 duo should come off draft boards in round 3 (Andrews) and round 4 (Hockenson).
4. George Kittle, SF
5. Kyle Pitts, ATL
6. Darren Waller, NYG
7. Dallas Goedert, PHI
From a real life standpoint, George Kittle comfortably sits as a top 3 TE – perhaps top 2. But there’s some dropoff from a fantasy perspective. Kittle has only surpassed the 6 TD mark in a season one time, albeit that was last year. And he tends to miss a few games every year. Kittle remains highly ranked here, but with the above factors and a crowded 49ers’ skill position group to compete with for targets, Kittle settles in at the top of tier 3 as the TE4.
One of these years Kyle Pitts will take the leap and become a top 3 fantasy tight end. So how does Pitts only have 3 TDs through two seasons? You got me there, but he’s simply too talented to reside in mediocrity. Two football seasons have passed since Darren Waller hit the 1k mark in yardage, but now the former Raiders’ TE finds a new home with the Giants. Passing targets are wide open in the Giants’ offense, and look for Brian Daboll to make Waller a feature player for the team this season.
Eagles’ TE Dallas Goedert finishes up tier 3, having settled in as a solid 50 catch, 700ish yard player. His ceiling has limits due to competition for targets, but he’s likely the safest player in this group as well.
You should target this group in the middle part of your drafts, anywhere from rounds 5 through 7.
8. Evan Engram, JAC
9. Pat Freiermuth, PIT
10. Dalton Schultz, DAL
11. David Njoku, CLE
12. Tyler Higbee, LAR
13. Chigoziem Okonkwo, TEN
14. Dalton Kincaid, BUF
15. Cole Kmet, CHI
16. Gerald Everett, LAC
The Jaguars have become fantasy important across the board for the first time in years. Evan Engram set career bests in 2022 with 73 receptions and 766 yards. He has Lawrence’s trust, and he makes for a solid pick if you miss out on the top three tiers. Right below Engram, Pat Freiermuth can be counted on for 60 plus catches with 700 yards – a steady and safe option.
Dalton Schultz missed a few games last year, and otherwise was tracking for 60+ catches and…yup, around 700 yards. David Njoku fell just below both numbers, but with a full season of Deshaun Watson at QB, his numbers will bump upward. Tyler Higbee has to contend with Cooper Kupp for targets, and not much else.
Second year TE Chigoziem Okonkwo came alive during the second half of last season, showing good chemistry with QB Ryan Tannehill. He’s a popular sleeper for taking the next step. Bills' rookie Dalton Kincaid has shot up draft boards, looking like a plug and play fit in the team's offense.
Cole Kmet had a nice 2022 season catching 50 balls, 7 of which were for TDs. That TD rate is not sustainable, but don’t be surprised if he has a slight uptick in receptions and yardage, balancing things out. We end with Gerald Everett, a long overlooked but solid TE, both in fantasy and real life.
Rounds 8 through 11 fit the bill for the deep tier 4 TEs.
17. Sam LaPorta, DET
18. Greg Dulcich, DEN
19. Juwan Johnson, NO
20. Dawson Knox, BUF
21. Hunter Henry, NE
22. Irv Smith, CIN
For tier 5, we won’t narrate too much given the relatively low ROI expected from this group. But the name at the top deserves a mention, as he’s intriguing in the Lions' potent offense, effectively replacing TJ Hockenson.
The next name also deserves attention, though for slipping down draft boards due to uncertainty for playing time. Dulcich belongs in tier 4 from a talent perspective, but it appears that Sean Payton wants to make him a part-time player. Oof.
Otherwise, the rest of the players belong on the tight end waiver wire carousel.
The tier 5 group should be late round picks or undrafted free agent pickups.
The tight end tiers can be categorized neatly: tier 1 = cheat code, tier 2 = high upside, high floor options, tier 3 = high upside, mid floor options, tier 4 = mid upside, decent floor and tier 5 = deep league / waiver wire options. If you can snag Kelce with a non-top-4 first round pick, it’s a good move. Dropping into the next few rounds to snag a tier 2 option works well too, and tiers 3 and 4 work fine too once you hit the appropriate rounds. The synopsis – there’s no wrong way to approach the TE position this season…so long as you (1) select your first tight end among the top 4 rounds, and (2) don’t overdraft your TE too early. Given that 15 players qualify, that should give you plenty of opportunity.
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