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Three Early Tight End Breakouts For 2024 Fantasy Football

Dalton Kincaid - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

Tight ends take longer to develop and usually take longer to break out. Travis Kelce only played one game in his rookie season, Mark Andrews had 34 catches for 552 yards in Year 1, George Kittle had 43 catches for 515 yards as a rookie, and T.J. Hockenson was held to just 32 catches for 367 yards to start his career. However, those are likely the four best tight ends in the game now.

Last year, we saw two tight ends break out in Trey McBride of the Arizona Cardinals and Sam LaPorta of the Detroit Lions. McBride was in his second NFL season after being drafted in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft. In 2023, he caught 81 passes for 825 yards and three touchdowns. The most impressive breakout tight end, though, was LaPorta. He caught 86 passes for 889 yards and 10 touchdowns as a rookie. 

McBride and LaPorta were two of the biggest breakout tight ends from the 2023 season. So, which tight ends will join the breakout list in 2024? 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: Greg Dulcich, Denver Broncos

Denver Broncos playmaker Greg Dulcich was the third tight end off the board in the 2022 NFL Draft. McBride and Indianapolis Colts tight end Jelani Woods were the only tight ends taken ahead of him. Dulcich was selected in the third round of that draft and showed flashes of his potential in his rookie season.

After missing the first five games of the year with a hamstring injury, Dulcich made his pro debut in Week 6, where he caught two passes for 44 yards and one touchdown. The Broncos tight end then went on to catch six passes for 51 yards the following week and four catches for 87 yards in Week 7. Overall, he finished his rookie season with 33 catches for 411 yards and two touchdowns in just 10 games.

However, we never really got to see Dulcich in Year 2. He played just two games last year as he battled the same hamstring injury that caused him to miss seven games in 2022. The talent is surely there from the athletic tight end, but injuries have hurt his full potential. If he can manage to somehow stay healthy during the 2024 season, we could finally see a breakout campaign.

 

Luke Musgrave, Green Bay Packers

Green Bay Packers tight end Luke Musgrave is coming off a solid rookie season. He caught 34 passes for 352 yards and one touchdown in 11 games. Musgrave became a reliable weapon in the passing game immediately after he was selected in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft. He totaled at least 45 receiving yards or four catches in seven of the first 10 games of the year.

Unfortunately, a lacerated kidney suffered in Week 11 knocked him out for six games in the final two months. That ultimately hurt his season-long numbers since that was around the time quarterback Jordan Love started to break out himself. Now, entering his second year, Musgrave could emerge as a big-time weapon for Love in the passing game.

There were surely signs of a potential Year 1 breakout, and his 6-foot-6 size should help him produce consistently on the field. Even with Tucker Kraft -- who is also entering his second year -- in the picture, that should be no reason to stop Musgrave from reaching career numbers in 2024.

 

Michael Mayer, Las Vegas Raiders

The 2023 tight end draft class was extremely deep, and Michael Mayer might just be the most forgotten name. Mayer was the third tight end selected in last year's draft, only behind Dalton Kincaid and LaPorta. However, the 22-year-old rookie didn't show much in his first season.

Between the bad quarterback play of Jimmy Garoppolo and Aidan O'Connell, it was hard for him to do much. There weren't many strong performances from the rookie tight end in 2023, but his best game came in Week 6 when he caught five passes for 75 yards. Outside of that, though, he only caught more than three passes in three of 14 games.

Mayer's rookie season is likely forgettable after he finished with only 27 catches for 304 yards and two touchdowns. However, it was a nice sign to see him play at least 80% of the team snaps in eight of the final nine games of the season. The quarterback play might not be resolved in 2024, but the talent and snap share could help him break out next season.

 

Dalton Kincaid, Buffalo Bills

Kincaid put together a strong rookie campaign, catching 73 passes for 673 yards and two touchdowns. The Bills playmaker was the first tight end selected in the 2023 NFL Draft and the only one drafted in the first round. However, he didn't fully break out last year.

Part of the reason for that was because of starter Dawson Knox. In games in which Knox was active, the rookie played just 57% of Buffalo's offensive snaps while catching 42 passes for 392 yards across 11 games. In games the veteran was inactive, Kincaid played 75.6% of the team's offensive snaps while catching 31 passes for 281 yards and two touchdowns across five games.

Knox will still be with the team in 2024, but with a full offseason, Buffalo should find new ways to get its tight end the ball. That's why Kincaid will break out next season, especially if Gabe Davis leaves in free agency and/or Stefon Diggs gets traded. If not, we can still expect a breakout year from the 24-year-old -- somewhere in the ballpark of 75-90 catches and 850-1,000 yards.



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