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2022 Target Bounceback Candidates - Tight End

In the NFL and fantasy football, things can change as easily as the snap of a finger from campaign to campaign. One season, somebody breaks a record, and the next they are fighting for targets and struggling to produce.

Based on game script, chemistry, and availability of weapons, targets can fluctuate for pass-catchers. In a position like TE, targets could be hard to come by at all depending on which team you are on. Naturally, some TEs could have breakout seasons too. Nevertheless, if your last name is not Kittle, Kelce, or Waller, you may have to work extra hard to snatch away targets from WRs.

Heading into 2022, there are quite a few TEs who should be due for a target increase. Let’s look at some candidates who are due for more targets come next season.

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2022 TE Target Bounceback Candidates

Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders

This is cheating. I mean not entirely, but at the end of the day, Darren Waller comes off a season in which he "only" played 11 games for the Raiders. He was out from W13 and W17 (both included) to then come back in the playoffs and do nothing remarkable. He should be fully healthy come 2022 Week 1, so there's that. Even missing nearly half a season, Waller somehow finished as a top-20 TE with 93 targets – the eighth-most at the position, making him one of only nine TEs with 90+ targets in 2021.

While that might scare you off this potential "bounceback," the truth is that the Elite-TE group all clearly surpassed the 100-target mark and then some. Mark Andrews got 154, Travis Kelce 135, Kyle Pitts 110 (as a rookie), etc... Waller falling below 100 – even with the two of Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow now in Las Vegas – just doesn't seem too logical. Waller is a lock to break the triple-digit barrier and finish as a top-12 tight end as long as health respects him next year.

 

Evan Engram, Jacksonville Jaguars

After five seasons in New York playing for Big Blue, it was definitely time for a change in Engram's career. He's been the target (no pun intended) of jokes throughout his whole career, perhaps because of his incredibly promising rookie season (115 targets, 64 receptions, 722 yards, six TDs; all still career-high marks). Engram has developed in a trajectory completely opposed to expectations, going from ranking as a top-five TE to a top-15, then top-20, and ultimately a disappointing top-25 last season.

Engram decided to start anew and signed with the Jaguars this past offseason. That means that he is joining a bona-fide star QB in Trevor Lawrence (yes, that rookie season wasn't quite it, but give the kid time) and a not-so-overloaded receiving corps in which the likes of Christian Kirk, Laviska Shenault Jr., and Marvin Jones Jr. are the biggest threats for Engram's opportunity/target shares. Engram has had a couple of seasons with 100+ targets in New York, and Lawrence might find a nice partner in him as a safety valve when needed.

 

Austin Hooper, Tennessee Titans

Hooper is a very nice addition by the Titans after having lost WR1 A.J. Brown to Philadelphia via forced trade. The Titans' receiving corps looked pretty barren and over-reliant on an oft-injured receiver in Robert Woods. They needed a bit more firepower there, so they drafted a WR2 in Treylon Burks and added Hooper to take on TE1 duties. Hooper was a sensation couple of years ago thanks to a breakout season in 2019 and the second year in a row finishing as a top-six fantasy TE. His numbers in Cleveland cratered, but he should rebound in Tennessee.

Hooper went from averaging 92+ targets his last two seasons in Atlanta to just 65+ in his two campaigns with the Browns. Tennessee, though singing TE2 Geoff Swaim this offseason to pair with Hooper, is far from a threat to Hooper's chances at getting a vast amount of targets. Swaim played 16 games last season and commanded a low 40 targets for a TE33 finish. Hooper, even underperforming, completed his sixth season as a top-24 tight end and the slightest of upticks in volume will undoubtedly put him close to breaking the top-12 at the position.



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