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2023 Rookie Tight End Fantasy Football Best Ball Primer

2023 Rookie Tight End

This rookie tight end primer will help you with your rookie research and any upcoming Underdog Fantasy best ball drafts.

Josh Larky and Ryan Reynolds walk you through the top seven tight ends based on projected draft capital. Together, they focus on giving you a holistic view of each tight end's profile, along with a dose of Underdog ADP (average draft position) game theory to help you handle the 2023 rookie tight ends in best ball and dynasty rookie drafts.


Once you’ve read through this rookie tight end primer, make sure you’re using our free top-250 Underdog Fantasy best ball rankings, complete with dozens of player write-ups. Make sure to consult our rookie wide receiver primer and rookie running back primer, too.

>> If you’re new to Underdog Fantasy, sign up with promo code “33rd” for a 100% deposit match up to $100.

Rookie TE Expectations

The table below is the average outcome (50th percentile) for rookie TEs from 2016 onward, separated by NFL Draft round. You’ll notice none of these numbers are particularly exciting after Round 1. Rookie TEs are becoming better bets in best-ball tournaments given the wide range of outcomes and increasingly faster integration into NFL passing offenses.

Scroll to the bottom of this article to see the 25th percentile and 75th percentile outcomes for rookie TEs since 2016 to better understand their floors and ceilings.

Round Sample Size Targets Rec Yards TD
1 7 57 32 432 3
2 10 39 29 255 2
3 17 15 15 157 1
4 21 22 12 156 2
5 10 9 7 67 1
6 8 12 10 102 1
7 2 7 5 64 0

All ADPs are from Underdog Fantasy, and all projected draft slots are from the NFL Mock Draft Database. For each player, Larky's thoughts are in plain text, while Reynolds' thoughts are italicized.


Michael Mayer - ADP 156.1

College: Notre Dame

Projected Draft Slot: Round 1, Pick 18

  • Mayer (scouting report) has ideal, Rob Gronkowski-type size at 6-foot-4, 265 pounds
  • Mayer was a three-year starter in college, with back-to-back seasons of more than 800 receiving yards and at least seven TDs
  • He will likely test well, but without elite speed. Mayer is similar to Mark Andrews or Dallas Goedert
  • Given the expected draft capital, his ADP likely rises another round or two
  • We have Mayer as the highest-graded tight end prospect. Mayer is a Bill Belichick kind of guy, and the New England Patriots have the 14th overall pick

Dalton Kincaid - ADP 202.9

College: Utah

Projected Draft Slot: Round 1, Pick 31

  • Kincaid (scouting report) is built like Greg Dulcich and Evan Engram and is a similarly poor blocker. This ensures his high draft capital is due to his receiving talents
  • Kincaid is an early declaration, who caught 70 passes for 890 yards as a junior. He had an elite 26% target share this season
  • His draft slot and ADP could rise with a solid NFL Combine, as he will be going 2-3 rounds higher if he locks in Round 1 draft capital
  • It’s unlikely for his draft stock or ADP to crater outside of a truly horrific combine
  • His best fantasy football landing spot in the late first round is the Cincinnati Bengals
  • He is an eye-popping athlete for the position
  • I regularly take Kincaid late in early best ball drafts
  • I agree the Bengals are the best landing spot, but the Los Angeles Chargers would be interesting, too

Oregon State tight end Luke Musgrave

Luke Musgrave - ADP 232.6

College: Oregon State

Projected Draft Slot: Round 2, Pick 39

  • Musgrave (scouting report) is built like Travis Kelce, at 6-foot-6, 250 pounds
  • He is a four-year player, but his season-high 304 receiving yards is deceiving
  • Musgrave had at least 80 receiving yards in both of his 2022 games before suffering a season-ending knee injury
  • He offers next to nothing as a blocker, ensuring he’ll be running routes whenever he’s on the field
  • Musgrave has a chance to run in the high 4.40s or low 4.50s for the 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine. His draft stock and ADP would jump to at least the 170s if he does run that fast.


  • I’m looking forward to seeing where Musgrave lands. If he has a path to playing time, I could see him having an impact in the second half of the season

Darnell Washington

Darnell Washington - ADP 234.0

College: Georgia

Projected Draft Slot: Round 2, Pick 36

  • Washington (scouting report) is a physical specimen at 6-foot-7, 270 pounds, similar to Jelani Woods
  • He was never above a 9% target share in any of his three college seasons
  • Fantasy production could be sporadic and TD-dependent, like Darren Fells
  • I’m comfortable targeting other rookie TEs that were more well-rounded as receivers and more productive in college


  • I love Washington as a player, and he could be an immediate upgrade for a team like the Detroit Lions. But ultimately, he’ll be a better NFL player than a fantasy asset

Sam LaPorta - ADP 239.4

College: Iowa

Projected Draft Slot: Round 3, Pick 81

  • LaPorta (scouting report) had more than 650 receiving yards as both a junior and senior
  • He had target shares of 21%, 22% and 31% in his final three seasons at Iowa
  • LaPorta is thickly built at 6-foot-4, 249 pounds
  • He's a limited athlete, so expecting a Dulcich-like rookie season from this likely third-rounder is a stretch
  • There is minimal interest in him as a final round dart throw
  • George Kittle, Noah Fant and T.J. Hockenson were all Iowa Hawkeyes. LaPorta isn’t that type of high-caliber talent, but there are a few landing spots where he could challenge for playing time
  • I also have limited interest in best ball drafts

Tucker Kraft

Tucker Kraft - ADP 240.0

College: South Dakota State

Projected Draft Slot: Round 3, Pick 65

  • Kraft (scouting report) has a similar frame to Goedert at 6-foot-5, 255 pounds
  • He was a four-year player who maxed out at 65 receptions for 773 yards as a junior. He had the second-most yards on the team that season
  • Kraft was a high school running back who could rise up draft boards with an excellent combine
  • He's worth a shot or two in Round 20 since he’ll rise a few rounds should he run in the 4.50s or 4.60s at the NFL Combine
  • South Dakota State is a small school, so Kraft will deal with a major jump in competition in his rookie season
  • That said, he’s a plus athlete that warrants monitoring

>> READ: Potential Small-School Standouts at NFL Combine 

Luke Schoonmaker - ADP 240.0

College: Michigan

Projected Draft Slot: Round 4, Pick 131

  • Schoonmaker (scouting report) is a decent athlete with a 6-foot-6, 250-pound frame — think slower Mike Gesicki
  • He had a breakout campaign as a senior (418 receiving yards), which resulted in a 15% target share after only a 7% target share as a junior
  • There is no need to take shots on him now, as a solid NFL Combine still results in him going Round 19 or 20 of best ball drafts


25th Percentile Outcomes (Since 2016)

Round Sample Size Targets Receptions RecYds RecTD
1 7 48 29 377 2
2 10 29 18 212 1
3 17 3 3 16 0
4 21 12 8 85 0
5 10 3 3 26 0
6 8 6 5 69 0
7 2 5 4 38 0

75th Percentile Outcomes (Since 2016)

Round Sample Size Targets Receptions RecYds RecTD
1 7 88 52 642 5
2 10 46 35 328 4
3 17 32 20 271 2
4 21 37 30 268 2
5 10 11 10 113 2
6 8 21 17 167 2
7 2 8 7 89 0

>> If you’re new to Underdog Fantasy, sign up with promo code “33rd” for a 100% deposit match up to $100.

We hope you enjoyed reading through this rookie tight end primer. Be on the lookout for more best ball articles coming soon, and make sure you’re using our free top-250 best ball rankings, which include dozens of player write-ups. Here is our rookie wide receiver primer and our rookie running back primer, the perfect complements to this article.