For my top 25 fantasy tight ends, you’ll see detailed player write-ups for every player to better understand how I view their role for the 2023 season.
Top 25 Fantasy Tight Ends
Tier 1: Travis Kelce
1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
Travis Kelce’s 19.2 PPR points per game would have been WR7 on the season, and he totaled 100 more fantasy points than last year’s fantasy TE2 T.J. Hockenson. He still plays with Patrick Mahomes, and the Chiefs still lack a proven alpha in the receiving game.
Even though he’ll be 34 years old in October, there were no signs of age-related decline last season. He set career-highs in targets, receptions and touchdowns in 2022. He out-scored every other tight end by six fantasy points per game and should distance himself by a hefty margin.
Tier 2: Competing for TE2 Overall
2. Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens
In 2021, Mark Andrews demonstrated the elite ceiling he possesses when he racked up 107 receptions, 1,361 yards and nine touchdowns.
But that is still his only year with more than 852 receiving yards. His target share has consistently been 25 percent or higher, but the Ravens’ pass volume has hindered his production.
New offensive coordinator Todd Monken has a history of pass-happy offenses, but Lamar Jackson will almost certainly yank pass attempts from the offense when he runs. Jackson has averaged at least 63 rush yards per game (more than 1,000-yard 16-game pace) each of the past four seasons.
Andrews could have untapped upside with the change at offensive coordinator, but he’s slightly more of the floor pick among the Tier 2 fantasy tight ends.
Mark Andrews & Rashod Bateman have overlapped for 11 full games with Lamar Jackson
Their average stats in those games
Andrews – 8.0 Tgt, 4.6 Rec, 54.4 RecYds, 0.55 TD, 13.4 PPR
Bateman -5.5 Tgt, 3.4 Rec, 50.6 RecYds, 0.18 TD, 9.3 PPR
Zay Flowers & Odell Beckham now on BAL, too
— Josh Larky (@jlarkytweets) July 20, 2023
3. T.J. Hockenson, Minnesota Vikings
No tight end elevated their fantasy stock more than Hockenson when he was traded from the Lions to the Vikings last season. After averaging 6.1 targets per game through seven games, that number jumped to 9.4 targets per game in the nine games with the Vikings. For context, Kelce averaged 8.9 targets per game last season.
Hockenson now has rookie wide receiver Jordan Addison — taken in Round 1 of the NFL Draft — in the fold, who should be stiffer target competition than Adam Thielen was last season. This is a pass-heavy team with a solid distributor in Kirk Cousins. I’d actually lean toward Hockenson slightly out-targeting Andrews in 2023.
4. Darren Waller, New York Giants
Darren Waller had at least 90 receptions and 1,145 receiving yards in both 2019 and 2020 before injuries took away a large chunk of his 2021 and 2022 seasons. His fantasy points per game in both 2019 and 2020 would have been the TE2 overall in 2022, behind only Kelce.
The change of scenery to New York presents him with a strong opportunity to return to his vintage ways, as he looks like the clear-cut top-receiving option for the Giants. Waller checks nearly every box needed to put up elite fantasy production in 2023 and should be targeted in all fantasy formats.
The Giants quietly scored the 15th most points in the NFL last season, giving Waller a sneaky touchdown upside.
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Tier 3: Worthy Consolation Prizes
5. Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons
After putting up the most rookie receiving yards (1,026 in 2021) from a tight end in more than 50 years, Kyle Pitts took a step back in 2022. His receiving yards per game dropped by nearly half (60.4 in 2021 to 35.6 in 2022). The main culprits were quarterback Marcus Mariota and an extremely run-heavy Falcons offense.
Quarterback Desmond Ridder, the team’s third-round selection last season, does not inspire much confidence in the passing game. Along with the team’s puzzling selection of running back Bijan Robinson at eighth overall in the draft, the Falcons look like they’ll once again be among the run-heaviest teams in the NFL.
I wouldn’t shame any drafter for avoiding this bleak pass-game situation for one more season. However, should Ridder take a step forward in Year 2, or should anything happen to wide receiver Drake London, Pitts catapults into elite tight end territory.
The Falcons quietly tied with the Giants for the 15th most points scored last year, so Pitts’ touchdown upside can be realized if the team trusts the passing game more in the red zone. Ridder has never played an NFL game with Pitts before, and while London is most likely the No. 1 target earner, it’s not a stretch for Pitts to become that top option.
6. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
George Kittle’s 2022 season represented his fewest receptions per game (4.0) since his rookie season in 2017. His 51 receiving yards per game was also by far the lowest since his rookie season, too. However, after averaging four touchdowns per season from 2017 to 2021, Kittle caught 11 touchdowns in 2022, keeping his fantasy production afloat.
He was generally the team’s fourth pass-game option on offense behind Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, and Christian McCaffrey. Despite Kittle’s pure talent, he’s arguably in the worst situation for difference-making fantasy success among my top-10 fantasy tight end options.
7. Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles
Only Kelce averaged more receiving yards per game at the tight end position than Dallas Goedert in 2022. Unfortunately, Goedert’s 5.8 targets per game ranked just 10th at the position, and he had to rely on an unsustainable 80 percent catch rate. He should be efficient in this Eagles offense, but he’s clearly behind A.J. Brown and Devonta Smith for targets. The addition of running back D’Andre Swift could pull more targets away from Goedert.
He’s a top talent on a top offense, but he’ll have a hard time producing difference-making fantasy stats without an injury to one of the two elite receivers. Think of Goedert as a high-floor option due to his talent and the Eagles’ offense, but recognize his the ceiling is capped without an injury to Brown or Smith.
8. Evan Engram, Jacksonville Jaguars
Evan Engram took a while to acclimate to the Jaguars’ offense last year and averaged just 32 receiving yards per game in his first 12 games. That jumped to 76 receiving yards per game in his last five games, which is a 1,292-yard pace in 17 games. He was rewarded for his late-season surge with an offseason extension.
Engram should provide solid fantasy points as the third option behind Calvin Ridley and Christian Kirk. Like Goedert, he could explode should the top wideouts get injured. The Jaguars’ offense should be higher volume than the Eagles. Engram’s ranking behind Goedert is primarily due to Goedert’s better track record of efficient receiving production.
9. Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers
Pat Freiermuth was a touchdown-dependent fantasy option as a rookie before emerging as a legitimate receiving threat in Year 2. His two touchdowns from 2022 mask the borderline elite target-earning profile he flashed last season. He was targeted on 23.4 percent of his routes last year, barely behind Diontae Johnson (24.2 percent) and well ahead of George Pickens (15.2 percent).
Freiermuth needs second-year quarterback Kenny Pickett to take a step forward, and that appears likely, given the Steelers’ investments in improving the offensive line. Freiermuth’s ceiling is easy to see, as he demonstrated the touchdown ceiling as a rookie (seven in 2021) and the target-earning ceiling in 2022.
10. Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams
Tyler Higbee averaged 7.2 targets per game in nine games with Matthew Stafford last season. Only Kelce, Andrews and Hockenson averaged more than 7.2 targets per game in 2022. After Cooper Kupp, Higbee looks like the clear No. 2 pass-game option.
Since the Rams’ have a bottom-tier pass defense, the offense will have to throw often to keep pace and try to win games. Higbee is the sneakiest fantasy option for 2023, as the path is there for him to finish top-5 at the position in targets.
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Tier 4: A Path Is There
11. Greg Dulcich, Denver Broncos
Greg Dulcich dealt with injuries during his rookie year, and the Broncos had a non-functioning offense, scoring the fewest points in the NFL last year. Still, he put up a 17.3 percent target share as a rookie, on an average depth of target (aDOT) of 11.2 yards downfield via The Edge.
Pitts was the only tight end to put up a higher target share on a higher aDOT. Put another way, only Pitts (34.5 percent), Andrews (33.6 percent) and Kelce (23.9 percent) received a higher portion of their team’s air yards when active than Dulcich (21.8 percent).
Should the offense take a step forward under new coach Sean Payton, Dulcich would be one of the main beneficiaries. He is currently behind Jerry Jeudy on the receiving depth chart but could usurp Courtland Sutton this season.
12. David Njoku, Cleveland Browns
David Njoku put together a stellar 2022 campaign, averaging 10 PPR fantasy points per game (TE8) on the back of an 18.6 percent target share (TE11). The Browns added wide receiver Elijah Moore this offseason, still have field stretcher Donovan Peoples-Jones and drafted wide receiver Cedric Tillman in Round 3.
I’m expecting Njoku’s share of the passing pie to drop in 2023, as the upside case is narrow: Deshaun Watson returns to form, and Moore’s second season is more indicative of his NFL path than his sublime rookie season. Njoku looks like more of a floor play than a ceiling play. He’s a fine option toward the end of fantasy drafts as Njoku pairs well with a young, upside tight end like Dulcich or Dalton Kincaid.
13. Dalton Kincaid, Buffalo Bills
Earlier this week, I outlined why Kincaid is uniquely positioned for a potential ceiling outcome for rookie tight ends. The article is worth reading in full, but Kincaid should operate frequently in the slot for Buffalo, where tight ends more easily score fantasy points.
Kincaid plays on a great offense and has first-round draft capital. There’s a good chance he does little for fantasy football, like most rookies; however, at the end of drafts, investing in the Bills’ potential slot receiver who is tight end eligible passes the sniff test to me.
14. Dalton Schultz, Houston Texans
No tight end’s fantasy production has been more propped up by the state of the offense than Dalton Schultz in Dallas the past few seasons. Now, he leaves Dak Prescott and the NFL’s No. 1 and No. 4 scoring offense of the past two seasons, respectively, to play for a Texans team devoid of receiving talent.
Catching passes from rookie quarterback C.J. Stroud inspires little confidence in the touchdown department, but the volume could be there. I expect Nico Collins or Robert Woods to lead the team in targets, but it wouldn’t be all too surprising if Schultz ended up being the top option there.
I outlined in-depth why being the No. 1 or No. 2 pass-game option is important for tight end fantasy points, and that’s the one reason for optimism with Schultz this season.
If you’re interested in more fantasy talk, we hosted JJ Zachariason on our podcast, debating the Falcons and Steelers while discussing why we are expecting a Deshaun Watson bounceback.
Tier 5: The Dart Throws
15. Tyler Conklin, New York Jets
Tyler Conklin quietly received 87 targets in each of the past two seasons, with at least 58 receptions and 552 yards in each campaign. Three receiving touchdowns in back-to-back seasons capped his fantasy points, but now Aaron Rodgers is in town, so the scoring potential for every Jets pass-catcher has been elevated.
Conklin is the darkest horse to sneak into overall TE6 or TE7 territory, as 63 receptions, 700 yards and eight touchdowns are on the menu.
16. Juwan Johnson, New Orleans Saints
Juwan Johnson is a converted wide receiver with an elite 4.58 40-time for the tight end position. He earned major playing time last season and turned a 14 percent target share into 508 yards and seven touchdowns. The target share and yardage need to increase for him to be consistently fantasy-relevant, but growth can happen in his second year as a starter.
Derek Carr is most likely a quarterback upgrade from Andy Dalton, and Carr had a penchant for targeting another athletic tight end in Waller. Johnson most likely misses the cut for top-12 scoring tight ends, but he’s a worthy dart throw at the end of drafts.
17. Trey McBride, Arizona Cardinals
Zach Ertz probably returns from injury toward the end of the 2023 season, so Trey McBride is less likely to deliver fantasy production when it matters most in the fantasy playoffs. However, for the start of the season, there’s a chance McBride is targeted often enough to make some noise. After Marquise Brown, Rondale Moore and Greg Dortch do not inspire much confidence.
The Cardinals should be trailing often, and the athletic Year 2 tight end can handle high volume, as evidenced by his 90 receptions for 1,121 receiving yards in his final season at Colorado State. Particularly in PPR leagues, McBride is worth consideration.
18. Chigoziem Okonkwo, Tennessee Titans
My interest in Chigoziem Okonkwo died a fairly swift death once DeAndre Hopkins signed with the Titans. Okonkwo was on my radar as a breakout tight end candidate after posting elite efficiency during his rookie season – 2.88 yards per route run (1st) and targeted on 29.5 percent of his routes (second).
There’s still potential for him to succeed as the third option in a Ryan Tannehill offense — see Jonnu Smith’s eight-touchdown 2020 season — but the speedy (4.52 40-time) Year 2 tight end will probably need to be on the pure end of some touchdown variance.
19. Mike Gesicki, New England Patriots
Mike Gesicki had back-to-back seasons with at least 700 receiving yards before taking on a secondary role to both Tyreek Hill and Jaylen Waddle in the Dolphins’ 2022 offense. He’s now on a Patriots team devoid of receiving talent, though he’ll most likely share pass-catching duties with Hunter Henry.
I’d expect Gesicki to operate from the slot as he did in Miami, so he’s my preferred option among the two New England tight ends. None of Juju Smith-Schuster, DeVante Parker or Tyquan Thornton are target hogs, so there’s room for Gesicki to emerge as a reasonably consistent fantasy option, returning to his 700-yard ways.
20. Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Chargers
Gerald Everett is buried behind Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, Austin Ekeler, Quentin Johnston and possibly Josh Palmer. However, Everett is a plus athlete for the position and is coming off career-highs in targets (87), receptions (58), yards (555) and touchdowns (four).
A bet on Everett is a bet on a Chargers offense that could lead the league in passing yards and touchdowns. Everett is a sneaky candidate for high-end touchdown production in 2023.
21. Jake Ferguson, Dallas Cowboys
Jake Ferguson was the Cowboys’ fourth-round draft pick in 2021, who caught 19 passes for 174 yards and was always Schultz on the depth chart. All reports indicate Ferguson is now the top guy and nothing in Schultz’s profile ever suggested he was particularly good at football.
Simply being the Cowboys’ tight end can result in fantasy relevance. Fortunately, we should know early in the season if the Cowboys’ tight end matters, so Ferguson should either start the season with fantasy production or end up on the waiver wire after one or two weeks.
22. Jelani Woods, Indianapolis Colts
Athletically, Jelani Woods tested better than Amon-Ra St. Brown, despite being six inches taller and 50 pounds heavier. Woods’ rookie season stats of 25 receptions and 312 yards are underwhelming, but after Michael Pittman, there aren’t any proven pass-catchers in this offense.
Rookie quarterbacks often rely on their big tight ends, and there’s a chance Woods finishes behind only Pittman in targets, courtesy of Anthony Richardson.
23. Isaiah Likely, Baltimore Ravens
Isaiah Likely finished second among rookie tight ends with 60 targets last season. He’s almost certainly a handcuff tight end behind Andrews, but the talent is there.
Should Andrews go down with an injury, Likely could be a top-eight weekly fantasy option at the position. There’s also a slight chance he has standalone value, depending on the health of the wide receivers and the personnel packages deployed by Monken.
24. Irv Smith Jr., Cincinnati Bengals
Irv Smith Jr. has been in the NFL since 2019 and only has 858 career receiving yards. However, he is now a part of a Bengals team without any competition at the tight end position. Smith is relatively fast, and journeyman tight end Hayden Hurst just set a career-high with four receptions per game as a Bengal last season.
With any elite passing offense, the starting skill players have significant touchdown upside. Smith has a chance at fantasy relevance if you squint a little bit.
25. Hayden Hurst, Carolina Panthers
As mentioned above, the journeyman is coming off a career-high four receptions per game and now finds himself on a Panthers team without a clear WR1. Bryce Young should be competent from the beginning, and Hurst may be viable in PPR leagues while Young acclimates to the NFL game.
DJ Chark, Thielen, rookie Jonathan Mingo and Terrace Marshall should all command targets and rotate playing time, but Hurst should remain on the field for most passing downs. Hurst mustered 8.1 PPR points per game last season despite just two touchdowns across 13 games, so he should be on the fantasy radar in deeper leagues.