Friday, August 25, 2023

2023 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings

FantasyPros tracks the accuracy of fantasy football rankings and Hanson's rankings have finished:
  • 2022: 8th (out of 163 experts tracked)
  • 2021: 6th (out of 172 experts tracked)
  • 2020: 9th (out of 149 experts tracked)

Some teams have already played their final preseason game and as the NFL preseason winds down, we are that much closer to the Kansas City Chiefs hosting the Detroit Lions on Thursday Night Football.

That also means that we are in the thick of fantasy draft season.

To help you prepare for your fantasy football drafts, we will continue to keep our fantasy football rankings updated until the start of the 2023 NFL season.

Note: These rankings are for half-PPR scoring.

More scoring formats:

More 2023 fantasy football rankings:

1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

While age (turns 34 in October) is still a potential concern, he's shown no signs of slowing down after posting his seventh consecutive 1,000-yard season. Without Tyreek Hill, he posted either his best or second-best numbers across the board — 152 targets, 110 receptions, 1,338 yards and 12 touchdowns.

Absolutely dominant compared to other tight ends, Kelce (15.4) averaged more than double the half-PPR fantasy points per game than the last TE1 (Dalton Schultz, TE12, 7.6 PPG). In fact, if Kelce were a wide receiver, he'd rank ahead of all but five wide receivers in fantasy PPG last season.

2. Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens

Andrews missed a couple of games in 2022, and his year-over-year production declined to 73/847/5. Even so, Andrews scored the fourth-most half-PPR fantasy points (third on a PPG basis). The additions at wide receiver creates greater competition for targets, but he remains the clear top fantasy option in Baltimore's passing game.

3. T.J. Hockenson, Minnesota Vikings

Hockenson was traded midseason within the division, and he averaged 8.6 targets and six receptions per game after the trade to the Vikings. Despite the midseason trade, he finished as fantasy's TE2, but part of that was aided by two monster games — 8/179/2 for the Lions in Week 4 and 13/109/2 for the Vikings in Week 16. Other than those two huge games, he had double-digit (half-PPR) fantasy points in only two other games.

4. Darren Waller, New York Giants

A couple of seasons removed from back-to-back 1,100-yard campaigns, Waller is clearly the top weapon in New York's passing attack. While he has been limited to only 20 games over the past two seasons, his 17-game pace is 71/895/4 during that stretch.

5. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

Compared to his elite talent, Kittle is often under-targeted. Even so, he has finished as a top-four fantasy tight end in four of the past five seasons. The exception was when he missed eight games in 2020, but he finished third on a PPG basis that season behind Travis Kelce and Darren Waller. The other concern with Kittle is he has missed multiple games in four consecutive seasons, but he has averaged 70.4/947.8/5.8 per 17 games over the past five years.

6. Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles

Goedert missed five games last season, but he finished with 55 catches for 702 yards and three touchdowns. His 58.5 YPG average was a career high and he had 60-plus yards in eight of 12 games. In addition, he had a minimum of three catches in all but one game last season.

7. Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

A knee injury prematurely cut his second season short, but Pitts eclipsed the 1,000-yard mark as a rookie (68/1,026/1) in 2021. If it weren't for the lack of touchdowns (one), his rookie season would have been viewed as a smashing success. Before his injury last year, his production dropped significantly (12.7 Y/R, 35.6 YPG, 47.5% catch rate and 1.69 Y/RR) compared to 2021 (15.1 Y/R, 60.4 YPG, 61.8% and 2.01 Y/RR). That said, the upside remains high going into his age-23 season.

8. Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers

Freiermuth followed up a strong rookie season (60/497/7) with 63 catches for 732 yards and two touchdowns. Despite scoring only twice in 2022, Freiermuth finished as fantasy's TE8 (half-PPR scoring). He had at least three catches in 13 of 16 games played.

9. Evan Engram, Jacksonville Jaguars

The Jaguars designated Engram with the franchise tag, but the two sides reached agreement on a three-year extension. While Engram missed 14 games in his first three seasons (2017-19), he has missed only two games over the past three years. He posted career highs in receptions (73), yards (766) and catch rate (74.5%) in 2022.

10. Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams

Higbee set career highs in targets (108, fourth-most among TEs) and receptions (72, fifth) in 2022. While Cooper Kupp missed nearly half of the season, Higbee's per-game numbers were actually better with Kupp (4.9/43 on 7.2 targets) than without Kupp (3.5/29 on 5.4 targets). At a position where volume is inconsistent outside of the elite options, there is value in the consistency of Higbee's volume.

11. David Njoku, Cleveland Browns

Njoku missed three games in 2022, but it was otherwise a career year for the athletic tight end. He averaged 4.1 receptions and 44.9 yards per game, both of which were career highs. Njoku finished ninth in half-PPR points per game in 2022.

12. Dalton Schultz, Houston Texans

Schultz has a minimum of 89 targets in each of the past three seasons, and he has averaged 4.1 receptions and 41.7 yards per game over that span. While he may get a tick less in terms of volume, he has the potential to lead the Texans in receptions in 2023.

13. Greg Dulcich, Denver Broncos

Dulcich had 33 catches for 411 yards and two touchdowns in 10 games as a rookie in 2022. Sean Payton said Dulcich has "a unique skill set. He's got traits. In the passing game we use the term, 'Joker' where you can get matchups."

14. Dalton Kincaid, Buffalo Bills

A lengthy adjustment period for rookie tight ends typically leads to modest fantasy impacts for the position. That said, Kincaid was arguably the most talented pass catcher (wide receiver or tight end) in the 2023 NFL Draft, so there is potential for him to utilized more than a typical rookie tight end as a mismatch in the passing game.

15. Chigoziem Okonkwo, Tennessee Titans

Okonkwo finished second on the team in receiving yards last year to Robert Woods, who is no longer on the roster. The rookie ended the year with 32 receptions for 450 yards (14.1 Y/R) and three touchdowns. There is some breakout potential (albeit less following the DeAndre Hopkins signing) heading into the athletic (4.52 40-yard dash) tight end's second year. Among tight ends with 30-plus targets in 2022, Okonkwo led the position in YAC per reception (7.8) and yards per route run (2.61), per PFF stats.

16. Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Chargers

Everett either set or tied career highs across the board — 58 catches for 555 yards and four touchdowns — in 2022. Despite a career season, Everett ended the year as fantasy's TE15 in half-PPR scoring. Assuming better health from Keenan Allen and Mike Williams and given that the Chargers drafted Quentin Johnston in the first round, however, it's possible that Everett is targeted less than he was last season (87 targets).

17. Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears

Targeted much less in 2022 (69) than in 2021 (93), Kmet's receptions (50) and yardage (544) dropped only modestly due to improvements in catch rate (64.5% to 72.5%) and yards per target (6.6 to 7.9). Held scoreless in 2021, Kmet had seven touchdowns in 2022 including six scores from Weeks 8-17. Adding a talented receiver (D.J. Moore) to the mix within a run-dominant offense may limit Kmet's opportunity to take a major step forward from his 2021-22 production levels.

18. Hayden Hurst, Carolina Panthers

Hurst has missed four games and averaged only 8.5 yards per reception (or less) in back-to-back seasons, but he averaged a career-high four receptions per game last season. Given the relative uncertainty at wide receiver, it's possible that Hurst comes close to his averages from last year.

19. Sam LaPorta, Detroit Lions

Other than the typical learning curve for tight ends transitioning to the NFL, there is a lot to like about LaPorta. In fact, it wouldn't surprise me if we're talking about him as one of the top 6-8 fantasy tight ends this time next year, but the question remains how quickly he'll move into the top-12 mix as a rookie.

20. Juwan Johnson, New Orleans Saints

Johnson had a career season with 42 catches for 508 yards and seven touchdowns in 2022. Depending on how much the Saints get from Michael Thomas, it may be difficult to repeat those numbers this season.

21. Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills

Knox's 2022 numbers (48/517/6) were similar, albeit slightly less, than his 2021 production (49/587/9). It's unlikely that Knox will produce as a top-12 option in 2023, and his touchdown dependency is high given his relatively low volume. Knox exceeded 50 receiving yards in only three regular-season games last season.

22. Zach Ertz, Arizona Cardinals

Ertz played only 10 games last season before tearing his ACL. Like Marquise Brown, Ertz was especially good when DeAndre Hopkins was suspended. Ertz had double-digit targets in four of the six games that Hopkins missed. He averaged 5.8 catches on 8.5 targets during that stretch. Ertz is on track to play in Week 1.

23. Irv Smith Jr., Cincinnati Bengals

Smith has appeared in only eight (23.5%) of 34 games over the past two seasons. With Hayden Hurst now in Carolina, Smith slots in atop Cincinnati's depth chart. Hurst had 52/414/2 receiving in 13 games last season, and Jets tight end C.J. Uzomah had 49/493/5 for Cincinnati in 2021. Provided his health cooperates, Smith has a chance to finish as a fringe TE1.

24. Hunter Henry, New England Patriots

Henry finished last season with 41 catches for 509 yards and two touchdowns, the lowest numbers of his career when you exclude 2016 (his rookie campaign) and 2018 (missed entire season). After ranking only 25th in 12-personnel usage (one running back and two tight ends) in 2022, it's expected that the Patriots will increase their usage of 12 personnel significantly in 2023.

25. Mike Gesicki, New England Patriots

Like Henry, Gesicki is coming off non-rookie lows in receptions (32), targets (52) and yards (362). The uber-athletic tight end will get an opportunity to reset in an offense that should be more likely to fully utilize his skill set. Gesicki suffered a mild dislocated shoulder at practice, although the hope is he's back for Week 1.

26. Cade Otton, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Otton had 42 catches for 391 yards and two touchdowns on 65 targets as a rookie in 2022 and he had four catches for 58 yards on seven targets in their playoff loss to the Cowboys. Even if his numbers are better in his second season, he's not much more than a fantasy TE2 in 2023.

27. Jake Ferguson, Dallas Cowboys

The Cowboys used a second-round pick on Luke Schoonmaker, but I expect Ferguson to pace the position group in receiving now that Dalton Schultz is in Houston. Even so, it's unlikely that Ferguson, Schoonmaker or any Cowboys tight end becomes fantasy-relevant in standard-sized leagues in 2023.

28. Jelani Woods, Indianapolis Colts

Woods is an outstanding athlete (4.61 40-yard dash) for someone his size (6-7, 259) and he heads into his second season with some sleeper appeal. Shane Steichen is less likely to spread tight end snaps around the way that Frank Reich has in the past, and Woods should be the biggest benefactor. As the IndyStar notes, "Woods is the only Indianapolis tight end who's shown he has the athleticism to stretch the field the way [Dallas] Goedert can."

29. Luke Musgrave, Green Bay Packers

With Robert Tonyan now in Chicago, it will be a pair of rookie tight ends — Musgrave and Tucker Kraft — that top the depth chart. Musgrave is an extremely athletic tight end that can be used to create mismatches against linebackers and safeties.

30. Taysom Hill, New Orleans Saints

Hill will throw a few passes and catch a few, but most of his fantasy production will come from his rushing production. Over the past three seasons, he has a total of 253 carries for 1,406 yards (5.6 Y/A) and 20 touchdowns.

31. Logan Thomas, Washington Commanders

32. Tyler Conklin, New York Jets

33. Noah Fant, Seattle Seahawks

34. Trey McBride, Arizona Cardinals

35. Michael Mayer, Las Vegas Raiders

36. Isaiah Likely, Baltimore Ravens

37. Luke Schoonmaker, Dallas Cowboys

38. Tucker Kraft, Green Bay Packers

39. Daniel Bellinger, New York Giants

40. Adam Trautman, Denver Broncos

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