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Breakout Fantasy Football Tight Ends From The 2023 Season

Sam LaPorta - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

The tight end group is always one of the hardest positions to navigate in fantasy every year. That continued during the 2023-2024 season because taking a tight end early might not have been the right strategy.

Travis Kelce, who was a top-seven overall pick in fantasy drafts, was arguably one of the biggest busts at the tight end position. Mark Andrews (ankle) and T.J. Hockenson (knee) suffered season-ending injuries down the stretch, and George Kittle was hit or miss on any given week. 

Excluding maybe Hockenson, the rest of those tight ends didn't live up to expectations this past season. However, several other tight ends made a name for themselves after breaking out in a big way during the 2023-2024 season. So, which tight ends broke out this past year? Let's dive in and find out. 

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!


Honorable Mention: Dalton Kincaid, Buffalo Bills

A rookie can break out in his first season, and that's exactly what happened with Buffalo Bills tight end Dalton Kincaid. Kincaid was the first tight end selected during the 2023 NFL Draft and the only one to be selected in the first round. He also went to the best possible situation in Buffalo with quarterback Josh Allen.

That helped Kincaid finish as the TE11 on the year while averaging 9.4 PPR fantasy points. But, the reason the rookie is just an honorable mention is because of his limited fantasy upside when starter Dawson Knox was active. With Knox playing, the 24-year-old tight end averaged just 7.4 PPR points on a 57% snap share. But when he was injured from Week 8 to Week 12, the young playmaker averaged 13.8 PPR fantasy points on a 76% snap share. 


Jake Ferguson, Dallas Cowboys

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jake Ferguson starts this list after a strong 2023 campaign. With the departure of Dalton Schultz, Ferguson was in line for a bigger role in Dallas' offense this season. Despite the Cowboys drafting Luke Schoonmaker in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft, the second-year tight end showed that he is more than capable of handling TE1 duties for the foreseeable future. 

That's because Ferguson broke out during the 2023-2024 season. He finished with 71 catches for 761 yards and five touchdowns in one of the best offenses in the NFL. His 71 catches ranked ninth, and his 761 receiving yards ranked eighth among all tight ends this past year. The 25-year-old was also a consistent fantasy option, especially towards the latter part of the season. 

Ferguson finished as the TE9 while averaging 10.4 PPR fantasy points per game. He scored double-digit PPR fantasy points nine times, including seven times over the final 11 weeks of the season. On top of that, the Cowboys' playmaker saw at least six targets in eight of the last 10 games, which helped him finish inside the top 10 five times during that stretch. 


Trey McBride, Arizona Cardinals

It was only a matter of time before Arizona Cardinals tight end Trey McBride broke out. He was the consensus number-one tight end in the 2022 NFL Draft, and he was the first one selected in the second round. When veteran tight end Zach Ertz went down with a quad injury in Week 7, McBride's path to playing time finally arrived. 

In his first start in Week 8 against the Baltimore Ravens, McBride caught 10 passes for 95 yards and one touchdown en route to a TE1 finish in fantasy. That was officially the start of his breakout 2023-2024 season. 

McBride finished the year with 81 catches for 825 yards and three touchdowns, and don't forget, he didn't become a full-time starter until Week 8. But in those final 10 games of the year, he showed the Cardinals and fantasy managers what type of player he could be.

The second-year tight end was a reliable fantasy option down the stretch and caught at least six passes in seven of those final 10 games. He also finished as a top-seven fantasy option in six of those contests, including four top-three fantasy finishes. On the year, he finished as the TE7. But if you just take the last 10 weeks, when he became a starter, he was the TE3 and averaged 15 PPR fantasy points per game. 


Sam LaPorta, Detroit Lions

The biggest fantasy football tight end breakout this season was Sam LaPorta. History wasn't on LaPorta's side coming into the season, as rookie tight ends tend to struggle in year one. However, the 23-year-old playmaker immediately made a name for himself in one of the top offenses in football. 

LaPorta's breakout rookie season was fantastic to watch, and if you spent a late-round draft pick on the Iowa tight end in fantasy, you were extremely happy with his immediate production. He finished as a top-10 fantasy tight end in six of the first eight weeks of the season while averaging 13.8 PPR fantasy points. During that eight-game stretch to start the year, he also scored above 19 PPR fantasy points three times. 

Immediate impact from a tight end in fantasy doesn't usually occur, so this was rare to see. But LaPorta became the first rookie to finish as the TE1 since Philadelphia Eagles tight end Keith Jackson did it in 1988. The Lions' tight end was electric in year one and caught 86 passes for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns. His 86 catches and 889 yards ranked top-five among all tight ends, while his 10 touchdowns were the most at that position.

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