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Must-Have Tight Ends for 2022 Fantasy Football Drafts

Noah Fant - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Tight end is a fun position in fantasy football. There's a clear top group of tight ends, headlined by Travis Kelce.

The top-five tight ends all count as "must-have" tight ends because of positional scarcity, but it's boring to suggest you draft the following names: Kelse, Mark Andrews, Kyle Pitts, George Kittle, and Darren Waller. They're all obvious picks.

Today, I've got three names for you at tight end who are outside of that top-five but who are must-haves for me in fantasy football this season.

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!

 

Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles

Goedert is my favorite tight end to target after that top tier of players at the position.

For the first time in his NFL career, Goedert enters the season with the clear No. 1 role. His upside had been limited by Zach Ertz, but the Eagles moved Ertz mid-season last year.

Per RotoViz's Game Splits app, Goedert has been really effective in games where he didn't share the field with Ertz. Of his 55 games, 40 have been played with Ertz. In those games, Goedert has put up an average of 3.35 catches, 35.4 yards, and 8.69 PPR points. In the 15 games without Ertz, he's averaged 4.27 catches, 58.6 yards, and 11.86 PPR points.

Nice jump there for Goedert, who now theoretically gets 17 games as the main tight end. And while the addition of wide receiver A.J. Brown definitely complicates the receiving picture here, Goedert's role feels fairly secure.

Assuming the Eagles throw more than last year when the team ranked last in the NFL in pass attempts, Goedert should be able to finish as the overall TE6—or better, depending on how injuries shake out with that top group of players. He ranked fifth among TEs in target rate last season, so more available targets due to more pass attempts will help raise his floor and ceiling.

 

Noah Fant, Seattle Seahawks

The Seattle Seahawks are very likely going to be a mess this season. Everyone knows this, and it's definitely part of why Noah Fant isn't being valued like Noah Fant should be.

There are a lot of negatives when it comes to Fant in Seattle. Quarterback is one of them, as it'll either be Geno Smith or Drew Lock throwing him the ball. Now, I know I've taken shots at Lock before:

But actually, if Lock earns this starting job, that's pretty good for Fant, since Fant has plenty of experience playing with Lock. While the Broncos QB role has been a bit of a revolving door, Fant has caught 74 passes from Drew Lock. The two have already built some chemistry together and while both will need to adjust to a new offense, that chemistry should be important, especially if the Seahawks end up needing to take the air out of the football and focus on the short/medium passing game.

While a Fant breakout has yet to happen in the way that was expected, the signs are all there. Per PlayerProfiler, Fant ranks in the 96th percentile or better in all his key workout metrics, and while workout metrics definitely fade in importance the deeper into a player's career we get, it's just impossible to forget about his 4.5 40 time.

Last season, Fant was targeted 90 times, catching 68 passes for 670 yards and four touchdowns. He was the overall TE12 in half-PPR and the TE13 in points per game among players to play at least 10 games.

His overall number of targets could go down this season based on what the Seahawks did last year with the position, as the Seahawks targeted tight ends on 20.5% of attempts last year while the Broncos targeted tight ends on 27.5% of targets. But I'm also a believer in talent being a big factor in where the ball goes. Fant is a much more talented tight end than Gerald Everett. And with Everett gone from Seattle, Fant should be on the field for 80% or more of snaps. Will Dissly isn't displacing him.

With Fant currently being drafted as the TE16, I think he's a must draft at cost. He's pretty clearly got more upside than the Pat Freiermuth and Cole Kmets of the world, but those guys are being drafted 20 or more spots ahead of Fant in drafts. I know the floor is low for Fant because this Seahawks offense is so bad, but he's just so cheap in fantasy and has the potential to be such an explosive player.

 

Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings

Smith definitely isn't as safe as the other two guys in this article, but he's someone whose upside I love and who'll definitely be on a large number of my fantasy teams because of that.

Smith missed all of last season with a meniscus injury. He last played in 2020, catching 30 passes for 365 yards and five touchdowns while splitting time with Kyle Rudolph.

But Rudolph is gone now. So is Tyler Conklin. The tight end unit behind Smith is now incredibly shallow, with Ben Ellefson highlighting it. The non-Smith tight ends have 18 combined NFL targets.

This is Smith's job.

The last time we saw Smith getting a full workload was when Rudolph missed three weeks at the end of 2020. In that span, Smith had a pair of touchdowns and posted numbers that on average would have made him the overall TE4 and the per-game TE6 in fantasy if we extrapolate that sample over a full season and compare it to where players finished last season.

That's definitely a bit of a reductive way of thinking about fantasy football. Smith won't post sustained numbers that make him the TE4. But he does have more upside than virtually any other player who is being drafted outside of the top-10 at the tight end position. I understand the risk you take by drafting someone who didn't play last year, but what we've seen of Smith over the course of his NFL career suggests that a breakout is possible if the situation is right. This year, the situation might finally be right.



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