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Biggest Tight End Surprises of 2022 – Fantasy Football Year In Review

The 2022 fantasy football season is over. However, looking at the past is important. From 2015-2021, an average of 6.6 tight ends per year averaged 10 or more half-point PPR fantasy points per game. Last year, there were only four tight ends to meet that average.

More importantly, Travis Kelce was a league winner. The future Hall of Famer was one of the highest-rostered players on championship teams in 2022. The reason why was the massive advantage fantasy players had each week at the tight end position. Kelce scored 261.3 fantasy points in 2022, nearly 90 more than any other tight end. Furthermore, he averaged four fantasy points per game more than the next closest tight end, George Kittle.

Not only did the future Hall of Famer give fantasy players a weekly advantage at the tight end position, but Kelce would have been a top-scoring wide receiver or running back last year. His 261.3 total fantasy points scored would have made him the WR5 and the RB6. Now that's enough about how dominant Kelce was in 2022. Let's look at some of the biggest surprises at the tight end position last year.

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T.J. Hockenson, Minnesota Vikings

  • 2021 Final Rank: TE16
  • Preseason ADP: TE8
  • 2022 Final Rank: TE2

Hockenson was one of those middle-round tight ends that fantasy players weren’t excited to draft. Over his first seven games of the year, the veteran averaged 6.1 targets and 10.4 half-point PPR fantasy points per game. However, Hockenson scored 35.9 fantasy points in Week 4 against the Seattle Seahawks, accounting for half of his fantasy total during that span.

Things changed when the veteran tight end got traded to Minnesota. Hockenson averaged 8.6 targets and 10 fantasy points per game in the 10 contests he played with the Vikings. He scored double-digit fantasy points multiple times, including the first game with his new team. Furthermore, Hockenson was the TE2 during the fantasy playoffs. He averaged 15.2 fantasy points per game during that span and scored two touchdowns.


Taysom Hill, New Orleans Saints

  • 2021 Final Rank: TE14
  • Preseason ADP: TE25
  • 2022 Final Rank: TE5

Labeling Hill a tight end is arguably an insult to the rest of the tight ends in the NFL. The veteran has only 43 receptions on 60 targets in his NFL career. Furthermore, he had more pass attempts only last year (19) than targets (13). However, Hill was a valuable fantasy asset because of his rushing abilities. He had 96 rushing attempts for 575 yards last year, both career-highs.

Hill had seven rushing scores in 2022, the second-most of his career. However, three of his touchdowns came in Week 5 against the Seahawks, scoring 34.1 half-point PPR fantasy points in the win. Hill scored nearly 25% of his fantasy points last season in that matchup.

Meanwhile, he averaged only 7.2 fantasy points per game for the rest of the season. Hill scored fewer than 10 fantasy points in 66.7% of those contests. While the veteran was an excellent DFS or streaming option, Hill was impossible to trust every week.


Evan Engram, Jacksonville Jaguars

  • 2021 Final Rank: TE24
  • Preseason ADP: TE20
  • 2022 Final Rank: TE6

Over his last two years as a member of the New York Giants, the veteran tight end averaged 6.1 half-point PPR fantasy points per game. Engram had only four receiving touchdowns during that span. Furthermore, he scored only 11 touchdowns since his rookie year before the 2022 season. However, Engram had a breakout season in Jacksonville.

The veteran tight end averaged 8.3 fantasy points last season, his highest average since 2019. Furthermore, Engram had 73 receptions for 766 receiving yards in 2022, both career highs. More importantly, he was the TE1 over the final five weeks of the fantasy season. Engram scored double-digit fantasy points four times during that span, including twice during the fantasy playoffs.

Reportedly, Engram and the Jaguars had had positive talks about a contract extension. Fantasy players are hopeful a long-term deal gets done, as the veteran tight end played a critical role in Trevor Lawrence’s production last season.


Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears

  • 2021 Final Rank: TE22
  • Preseason ADP: TE12
  • 2022 Final Rank: TE7

Kmet was one of my favorite late-round targets entering last year, as he played well in Justin Fields’ final four starts in 2021. Removing the one matchup where the quarterback left early with an injury, the young tight end averaged 7.3 targets and 8.3 half-point PPR fantasy points per game in those four contests. Furthermore, Kmet was the TE12 over the final four weeks in 2021, averaging seven fantasy points per game.

Meanwhile, the former Notre Dame tight end took a massive step forward in 2022. He was the TE7 last year, averaging 7.2 fantasy points per game despite finishing 15th among tight ends in receptions with 50. More importantly, Kmet had seven receiving touchdowns last year, finishing third among tight ends.

Furthermore, his seven receiving touchdowns were the 15th-most in the NFL. More importantly, Kmet showed potential to end the season. Over the last five games of the year, the third-year tight end averaged 4.2 receptions for 41.6 receiving yards and 8.7 fantasy points per contest. He is entering a contract year in 2023. Therefore, fantasy players shouldn’t be surprised if Kmet has a breakout year next season.


Juwan Johnson, New Orleans Saints

  • 2021 Final Rank: TE44
  • Preseason ADP: NR
  • 2022 Final Rank: TE11

The top priority when streaming tight ends is touchdown production. Kelce and Kittle were the only two tight ends to score double-digit touchdowns last year. However, Johnson had the third-most touchdowns among tight ends with seven. Furthermore, he did that on only 42 receptions, averaging a touchdown once per every six receptions. Johnson’s seven receiving touchdowns were more than Dallas Goedert, Pat Freiermuth, and Logan Thomas combined.

While it was his first year playing tight end full-time, the former Oregon star receiver was an excellent streaming option last season. From Week 7 through Week 11, Johnson had at least one touchdown in four of the five games. He was the TE3 during that span, averaging 11.3 half-point PPR fantasy points per game. His performance last year was impressive. Yet, fantasy players should expect a breakout season from Johnson in 2023.

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