In fantasy football, the tight end position can be difficult to navigate. After the top three guys get drafted, it becomes sort of a crapshoot. Most fantasy players choose to prioritize other positions. If that’s not you, then this article is a must-read because it features a couple of bigger names that may surprise you. In fact, for good reason, Travis Kelce almost made this list of tight end busts. First, we need to define the word “bust”. For the purpose of this article we will define it as a player who does not meet or outperform his ADP.
Tight End Busts for 2022
George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
This bust selection completely hinges on which QB is under center. If Jimmy G somehow stays with the 49ers and starts, then Kittle is top five easily. On the other hand, if Trey Lance gets the nod, then you might want to steer clear. If one thing was clear from watching Kittle and Lance play together, it was the fact that they were not on the same page. Last season Lance played 50% or more snaps in three games. He played in 51% of snaps in Week 4 and 100% in Weeks 5 (Kittle did not play) and 17. Let’s break down both weeks where the two were on the field together.
TINY sample size here, but Trey Lance only targeted George Kittle on four of his 41 pass attempts (9.8%) last season when they both played together in Weeks 4 and 17
— Adam Koffler (@AdamKoffler) July 21, 2022
In Week 4 Lance played 50% of snaps, all coming after the half. That week Kittle recorded 11 targets, 4 receptions, and 40 yards. The 11 targets look nice, but the four catches is alarming. To make matters worse, we have to take an even deeper look into this. Would you believe me if I told you that all four of Kittles receptions came in the first half, while Jimmy Garoppolo was in at QB? Well, you better believe it! In fact, Kittle was only targeted (unsuccessfully) by Lance three times in that game. In Week 17, when Lance started and played the whole game, Kittle managed 1 reception for 29 yards on, get this, TWO TARGETS! George Kittle has literally only caught one ball from Trey Lance in NFL games. If Lance is the starter, do yourself a favor and draft somebody else.
Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders
Another big name that might shock you, Darren Waller finds himself firmly on my tight end busts list. Why? Here’s the simple answer: Hunter Renfrow, Bryan Edwards, and Zay Jones. These were the three receivers that Waller had to “compete” with for targets last season. This year will look a lot different as the Raiders received a massive upgrade at the position thanks to the addition of former Packer WR, Davante Adams. In 2021, Adams, for the second time in his career, was targeted a ridiculous 169 times. As hard as it may be to believe, it wasn’t like Aaron Rodgers was forcing the ball his way either. Adams is simply always open! After signing a five-year deal worth $141.25 million, you had better believe that Adams is going to be the focal point of this new look Raiders offense.
If the addition of Adams isn’t enough to make a point, then Waller’s reduced stats should be. Last season, Waller saw serious regression in almost every statistical category. This includes 52 fewer targets, 52 fewer receptions, 531 fewer yards, and 7 fewer TDs. Repeat after me. I will not draft Darren Waller based on his 2020 season.
Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills
The Buffalo Bills are hot. They’re currently one of the most talked about teams in the NFL, and for good reason! All the hype has led to Knox being listed as the #10 tight end on most professional rankings. This offense is certainly top five in the league, so it would make sense for you to grab the starting TE right? Well, maybe not. In his 2021 breakout season, Knox only had 3 games where he totaled more than 50 receiving yards. That low receiving floor makes Knox super TD dependent. Its a good thing he had 9 TDs last season. That may be true, but it was the highest number of his career (previously 2 TDs in 2019, 3 in 2020). With that being said, it would not shock me to see some touchdown regression from Knox, which he simply can not afford with his low yardage totals.
After Knox needed surgery to repair his hand/wrist, the Bills thought it wise to have a plan in place. That plan goes by the name of O.J. Howard. The 6’6 , 250 lb. tight end signed a one-year $2.875 million deal with the team this March. Howard may not have lived up to expectations so far in his career, but his size figures to play a factor for this otherwise smaller WR corps. He’ll likely do most of his damage in the red zone, which once again makes Knox feel less appealing.
A bettor placed $200 on OJ Howard to score the first TD
Payout is $5,800 🤑pic.twitter.com/pZjkRL1UCW
— DraftKings Sportsbook (@DKSportsbook) October 15, 2021
Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons
Singular, sole, lone, one. All of these words can be used to describe the number of touchdowns Kyle Pitts scored last season. He did this with a veteran quarterback and as the number one receiving option on his team. Fast forward one blink of the eye. Matt Ryan is in Indianapolis, there may be a new number one option in town, and Kyle Pitts is left with the combination of Marcus Mariota and Desmond Ridder at quarterback. In his 5 years as a starting QB, Mariota has posted an atrocious 50.96 QBR. When you compare this to Matt Ryan’s career passer rating of 94.2 you just know that Pitts is in for one hell of a ride. In addition to this, as mentioned before, Pitts may not be the go-to option anymore. The Falcons lost starting WR Russell Gage, but drafted WR, Drake London eighth overall. Now that he has legit competition for targets and a severe downgrade at the quarterback position, I find it hard to imagine a scenario where Kyle Pitts meets or outperforms his ADP, which is exactly why he rounds off my list of tight end busts.
Got a hot take on Reese’s tight end busts? Share it in the comments below and then head on over and check out our 2022 Fantasy Football Draft Kit!