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Why You Must Draft a Top-Seven Tight End in Fantasy Football

Travis Kelce - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

I am not someone who enjoys telling people what to do. Except when it comes to fantasy football. When it comes to fantasy, I have no problem telling what I think they should do!

For instance, I think drafters should take a receiver in round one. Because of ADP, I say you must take a running back in round two. And for the first time, there’s actually an advantage to taking a QB early

And when it comes to the tight end position? You need to target one of the top seven TEs. 

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!

 

Why You Should Target a Top Seven Tight End

If you have played fantasy football before, you know how much of a wasteland the tight end position has been. Every year there are a handful of good options and then a large chunk of meh. Those late options always seem appealing in August. Then all those weeks of single-digit points happen. 

Those later-round tight ends are never top targets on their offenses. That leads to inconsistent volume, and they are often very touchdown dependent. Oh, and for those saying you can just stream if the tight end you take a shot on doesn’t pan out. But those streamers are often more appealing because of the matchup, and even then, you are just hoping for a touchdown. It’s not a fun way to live and often leads to disappointments, which of course, can lead to fantasy losses. 

Another way to think of it is like this. If there are only seven tight ends going into the season that you are confident (if they stay healthy) will be your starter the entire season, then why would you not want that player? Not only do you not have to stream, which saves waiver wire claims or FAAB for you, but you have a leg up at the weakest position in the game. There’s undoubtedly an advantage to that. Additionally, you do not necessarily have to use one of your top picks to do so. 

 

Early Round Tight Ends to Target 

Travis Kelce typically goes in the middle of the first round of drafts. It's potentially the earliest a tight end has ever gone in fantasy football - but he is still worth it. Last season Kelce scored the second most fantasy points ever by a tight end. He scored over 100 more fantasy points than any other tight end. It was the largest positional advantage I have seen in my 15 years of playing fantasy football. But it wasn’t just one big year. Kelce has averaged 15-plus fantasy PPG in five straight seasons. Not only is he the only tight end ever to do that, but last season only one other tight end averaged over 13 fantasy PPG (George Kittle). Kelce is the biggest advantage at the weakest position in the game.

Darren Waller is my most drafted and favorite tight end target this season. Part of the reason is he goes last of the top seven tight ends in the seventh round. Last season he was on pace with many of the other tight ends on a per-route basis. But, he was being used differently than ever before as he was seeing fewer targets but more downfield. Now, he will once again be his team's top target - to me, he is a lock to be top two in targets at the position if he stays healthy (Kelce is only competition). He will be used more like he was before 2023 and I trust Brian Daboll to put his players in the best position to succeed. Every report is that no one can stop Waller at camp and I expect that to carry over into the regular season. 

 

Kyle Pitts is a player I just cannot quit. I can tell you that last season was not his fault - that nearly 60 percent of his targets were deemed uncatchable. But I wrote an entire article about it if you want to read more in-depth. But, that doesn’t mean there weren’t positives from last season. Pitts did lineup all over the field as we hoped. He was used more downfield. If the Falcons have to throw more, which I anticipate, Pitts could take that next step we all know he is capable of making. 

The Falcons were also in the ultimate run-the-ball game script all season long. It was their plan to use a run-the-ball game script and it worked to an extent as they were in a bunch of close games and only lost two games all year by more than one score. It was the fourth-fewest passing attempt since 2010, and naturally, I think that changes. They did jump from 24.5 pass attempts per game with Mariota to 30.3 with Desmond Ridder. That may not sound like a whole lot but six more attempts per game over 17 games equates to 102 more attempts, which even at a 20 percent target share is an additional 20 targets in a season. Plus, if Ridder can improve in his second year, it only helps Pitts. He brings the same upside as a year ago just at a much cheaper cost. 

While those three are my favorite tight end targets, there are other high-end options. Mark Andrews has been a staple as one of the first tight ends drafted in recent years. T.J. Hockenson is coming off a breakout season in a pass-happy offense. George Kittle may have lots of target competition but he is a proven talent who was second at the position in fantasy PPG. Dallas Goedert also has to compete for his volume but he is in one of the best offenses in the league and was great on a per-route basis last season. If you can nab one of these top seven tight ends, in the first seven rounds, you should do so. 

 

What to Do If You Miss Out on a Top 7 Tight End

Evan Engram and David Njoku are my top fallback options for the position. Engram finished as the TE5 overall and seventh in points per game. He averaged over 16 fantasy PPG in the final six weeks and is coming off a career season in an offense that could be one of the best in the league. The only issue is there are a lot of receivers that will be vying for volume with him. 

Njareu missed time but he was still eighth in points per game. His 20 red zone targets ranked second at the position. Njoku showed the upside that has had many excited for years. The talent is there, but the consistency has not been. But there is hope that that can change this season. If Deshaun Watson returns to form this will be the best offense that Njoku has ever played in. That leads to more scoring opportunities and production. He is a strong upside gamble. 

If all else fails you can take shots on upside plays like Dalton Kincaid and Sam LaPorta. While rookie tight ends often struggle, these two have been receiving rave reviews from camp and are expected to each play a significant role in their offenses. Kincaid plays in one of the best offenses in football, while LaPorta is on a Lions team that I expect to take another step forward as an offense this season. He also has very little competition on the tight-end depth chart there. If you take one of those two, I would pair them with a veteran option like Pat Freiermuth or Cole Kmet to help cover your bases. 

Late-round fliers worth taking (in this order): Gerald Everett, Juwan Johnson, Tyler Higbee, Irv Smith Jr, Tyler Conklin, Mike Gesicki, Jelani Woods

Make sure to follow Michael on Twitter, @MichaelFFlorio. 

 



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