Fantasy Football TE CBS Draft Rankings
Last update . Sep 08 . 10:35 AM EDT
Kelce was far and away the TE1 last season, outscoring the TE2 (T.J. Hockenson), 254.5 to 170.3. With Tyreek Hill shipped off to Miami, Kelce set a career-high in total targets (152), receptions (110), yards (1,338), and touchdowns (12), though the 17-game season played a factor in setting those career-highs. At 33, he’s still playing at a very high level and his slight decline in 2021 did not continue into 2022 thanks to the heavy volume. The Chiefs still have a questionable and inexperienced receiver room, so Kelce’s role isn’t likely to dry up anytime soon. There’s an argument that he should be the No. 1 overall pick in fantasy drafts given the positional advantage that he provides.
Andrews was actually the TE1 in 2021, but his production has been a bit higher (13.0 half-PPR points per game) with Lamar Jackson sidelined than he has with Jackson in the lineup (12.4) over the past two seasons. His production with Jackson still would have been good enough for top three numbers in every season going back to 2019, so drafters should be confident taking Andrews in the third round, and he’s probably worthy of a pick in the second round. The Ravens added Odell Beckham and will be getting a healthy Rashod Bateman back, so there’s some target competition this season. But there’s also a very good chance that new OC Todd Monken will throw the ball more than Greg Roman did in 2022.
Outside of Travis Kelce, the primary hurdle for Kittle to finish as the fantasy TE1 is his inability to play a full season. Over the past four seasons, he has played 14, 8, 14, and 15 games and, as a result, he hasn’t cracked 1,000 yards since 2019. Still, his production with Brock Purdy at quarterback was eye-popping last season. In nine games with Purdy, Kittle averaged 4.3 catches for 60.4 yards and 1.11 touchdowns per game for a 14.7 per-game average. Since he averaged 6.2 targets per game–which is good but not outstanding usage for a tight end–he’s unlikely to maintain that touchdown production, but getting 60+ catches and 850 or so yards from a fifth-round tight end would be a major victory. Can he play 15+ games for the first time since 2018, when he racked up 88-1377-5 on 136 targets? (He still finished as the TE3 that year behind Kelce and Zach Ertz.)
Like George Kittle, the primary hurdle for Waller seems to be his durability. After back-to-back 16-game seasons in 2019 and 2020, Waller has played only 20 games total in the last two seasons. He’ll be 31 in September so it’s fair to wonder about his health, though he’s landing in a great spot in terms of potential usage. The Giants don’t have a clear alpha at the receiver position so it’s entirely possible that Waller leads this team in targets whenever he’s healthy enough to play. We know he’s capable of big things–he posted 197 catches for 2,341 yards and 12 touchdowns in the aforementioned 2019-20 seasons.
Hockenson’s production after arriving in Minnesota definitely puts him in the “elite TE” conversation. His per-game fantasy production was actually higher in his first seven games in Detroit, but his targets jumped from 6.1 per game to 8.6 per game after the trade to Minnesota. That usage is hard to find at the tight end position, so Hockenson’s fourth-round ADP is more than justified. Since 2020, only two tight ends not named Kelce, Andrews, or Kittle–namely, 2022 Hockenson and 2020 Darren Waller–have averaged 10+ half-PPR points per game.
Freiermuth has already broken out (63-732-2) but could take it to another level if Kenny Pickett can figure out how to throw some touchdowns. As a team, the Steelers threw a grand total of 12 touchdowns last year and the second-year tight end had two of them after catching seven as a rookie. Pittsburgh is expected to go pretty run-heavy this season so Freiermuth’s ceiling is only so high. However, his splits with Pickett are terrific. In the nine games that he played with Pickett and played at least 50% of the snaps, he averaged 5.2 receptions (on 7.4 targets) for 61 yards with no touchdowns. (Hat tip to Connor Allen for that stat.) Assuming those touchdowns regress for the better, Freiermuth could post a top-five type season.
Goedert is just as (if not more) talented than T.J. Hockenson, but his usage in Philly’s run-heavy offense and target competition leaves him at a less-than-appealing 5.8 targets per game. He has to be incredibly efficient to crack the top three or four at year’s end. He was TE5 on a per-game basis last year and that’s about where I have him ranked. He’s a solid pick in the sixth round.
Jacksonville slapped the franchise tag on Engram, who had a career year (73 catches for 766 yards on 98 targets) in his first season with the team. HC Doug Pederson is known as a TE whisperer, so this move ensures that Engram will be drafted as a fantasy TE1 this season. He is currently the No. 8 tight end off the board in early drafts. With Calvin Ridley joining Christian Kirk and Zay Jones in the receiver room, the targets will be at a premium in Jacksonville. It’s going to be tough for Engram to maintain his 2022 production, though he’s one of the handful of tight ends who are a good bet for TE1-type production.
I understand why early drafters want to take a shot on the talent of Kyle Pitts, who is the TE5 off the board. I’m not convinced that Arthur Smith is ever going to feature him properly or throw the ball enough (with Desmond Ridder at quarterback and Bijan Robinson at running back) to support two fantasy starters in the passing game (i.e. Drake London and Pitts). The good news is that the Falcons did throw more with Ridder at quarterback (28.8 pass attempts per game) than they did with Marcus Mariota under center (23.1 per game), so there is some optimism that the Falcons’ passing “attack” can approach normalcy in 2023. Pitts did have one of the most productive rookie seasons by a tight end ever–68 catches for 1,026 yards–but his receiving yardage somehow dropped from 60.4 to 35.6 per game in his second season. Much of that had to do with Atlanta’s quarterback situation, but we don’t know if that’s really been addressed yet.
Last year, David Njoku was actually more productive (4.6-52-0.22) in the nine games he played with Jacoby Brissett at quarterback than he was in five games with Deshaun Watson (3.4-33-0.40), though his targets were about the same with both quarterbacks. He technically broke out last season (58-628-4) but the athletic Njoku could make another leap if Watson’s play can approach his career mean.
What is a TE in Fantasy Football?
The tight end position has been changing in recent years. Historically, the position is a do-it-all type of spot where the player is not only asked to be well-versed in route running and catching the football, but also blocking. Nowadays, NFL teams are using more and more tight ends treated like wide receivers. Mike Gesicki, for example, lined up in the slot, as a receiver, then he did in-line (a position where often associated with blocking). Due to the dueling responsibilities, it often takes younger players more time to get used to the NFL speed because they're tasked with not only the duties of a receiver but also of a lineman – it can be a lot for young players to adjust to. For fantasy football, tight ends can simply be considered bigger receivers. These are the kind of players we want to target. Unfortunately, there are no points awarded for being a great blocker, so fantasy managers will want to target the tight ends who are often treated exclusively as receivers.
Who is the best fantasy TE?
It doesn't matter what format you're playing in – standard, half-PPR, full-PPR – the best tight end entering the 2022 season is either Mark Andrews or Travis Kelce. Debates on who should be the first tight end off the board will center around these two and only these two. The consensus rankings in the fantasy community and here at 4for4 believe that Kelce is the best. With Tyreek Hill in Miami, Kelce will assume the mantle of being Mahomes' 1 No. 1 target. The lack of dependable pass-catchers behind him could result in Kelce being one of the most targeted players in the NFL. While Andrews is a phenomenal fantasy asset, there are some questions as to whether the Ravens will pass as much as they did in 2021. Looking at his four seasons in the NFL, last year was something of an outlier based on the increased passing volume for the Ravens. Fantasy managers should pay attention to training camp reports to determine what the Baltimore offense might look like this year.
How many TEs should I have?
Your roster size and more importantly, how many bench spots you have available, are at the root of this question's answer. It's more important than what kind of scoring format you're playing in. If you have only 4–5 bench spots and have one of the top-six tight ends, it's not necessary to roster a second one. If you're playing in a more typical roster format where you have 6–7 bench spots, unless you have one of the top three guys, it makes sense to roster a second tight end. Our bench is for improving our starting lineup and in that regard, it makes sense to take another dart throw at one of the most volatile positions in fantasy football.
How do different scoring formats affect TEs?
The different kinds of scoring formats can directly impact how fantasy managers value certain tight ends. This doesn't change anything for our top-six guys this year, but once you get out of that comfort zone, what scoring format you're playing under becomes very important. In standard scoring leagues, you should prioritize touchdowns, red zone utilization, his team's offensive output, and their target volume. Guys like Robert Tonyan, Hunter Henry, and Dawson Knox are the kind of guys who work well in standard scoring because although they may not have a large target share like other tight ends, they're heavily used near the goal line and connected to good offenses. Knox did set career-highs in targets and receptions per game in 2021, but his low target share is a red flag. That often means more touchdowns. In PPR scoring, fantasy managers should be chasing volume. Guys like T.J. Hockenson, Zach Ertz, and Cole Kmet get a boost here because they should see ample volume on a weekly basis. While their number of touchdowns may be lower, they can make up the difference in PPR scoring. In relation to other positions, standard scoring leagues can devalue the worth of pass-catchers. Since the majority of tight ends fail to eclipse 1,000 yards, standard scoring leagues end up putting a low premium on tight ends outside of the elite guys on top because they score so little.
How do I stream TEs?
Streaming tight ends is the practice of choosing a new starting tight end on an almost weekly basis. What you should be looking for when undergoing this type of strategy is looking at matchups with high expected point totals for each team. An over/under of 55 point implies we should be expecting a lot of touchdowns to be scored and that creates extra scoring opportunities for our tight ends who often need to make good on less volume – touchdowns can do that. We should also then be avoiding games with low implied point totals. Rob Gronkowski retiring opens the door for Cameron Brate to be one of the more interesting streamers this season. Another likely streamer is Tyler Higbee. Both these players lack consistent targets, but are attached to high-scoring offenses. These kinds of players tend to be touchdown-dependent. Once bye weeks start – in Week 6 – we will have enough data where we can begin to identify which defenses struggle to stop tight ends and which defenses are very effective in slowing down the position. This information is also incredibly helpful when looking to stream the position. Targeting high implied point totals and teams that yield a high number of fantasy points per game to the position can make for an effective tight end streaming strategy.
Should I Pay up for a TE?
If you want a set it and forget it type of tight end, you'll need to pay up to get it. This includes Kelce, Andrews, Pitts, Waller, Schultz, and Kittle. After those six, the position begins to thin out fairly quickly. The best strategy when it comes to this position is either attacking one of those first six or waiting and taking two tight ends further down the rankings. This includes a safe floor option, such as Hunter Henry (TE14) and one Albert Okwuegbunam (TE16) who offers more upside. Fantasy managers should be cautious with the tight ends in the 7–12 range as the cost of acquiring these players rarely outweigh the benefits.
What should I look for in Drafting TEs?
The short answer here is volume. Fantasy managers should be targeting tight ends who have a weekly average of 6+ targets and those who have a chance at that kind of volume should be higher on your draft rankings. To earn that kind of target share, they often need to be the primary or secondary option in their team's passing attack. This also can help identify value plays. Guys like Evan Engram and David Njoku have a pathway to being their team's second most targeted player and make for excellent late-round additions. A more in-depth answer is that fantasy managers should be looking for tight ends who play on an up-tempo offense with high pass volume. We should be targeting players who are running a lot of routes and who are rarely asked to stay in and block. Every passing play where they are asked to block is a lost opportunity. Tight ends who are used as receivers should also be primary targets. Kyle Pitts and Mark Andrews are also split out wide, which increases their upside.
M/U = 4for4 matchup ranking (Schedule-Adjusted Fantasy Points Allowed). 1 = Worst Matchup, 32 = Best Matchup