With plenty of fantasy drafts still to complete, using tiers to guide us through the draft process is a helpful tool to maximizing the value of your rosters when you’re on the clock. These tight end tiers reflect my tight end rankings but organize them in such a way that I can keep tabs of when to prioritize drafting a certain position based on supply and demand.
Tight End Tiers for 2023 Fantasy Football
Tier 1: The King in a Tier of his Own
- Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
This top tight end tier needs no explanation. Travis Kelce is a first round pick and belongs in a tier of his own. Since 2018, when Patrick Mahomes took over as the starting quarterback in Kansas City, Kelce has finished inside the top-14 in targets amongst all players each season. That includes three top-eight finishes, as well. With such insane volume, Kelce’s production has been nothing but incredible, as well. In fact, if you applied his fantasy points per game to the wide receiver position, he would finish inside the top-11 each of the last five seasons. There are other fine options in the Chiefs’ passing game, but no legitimate threat to Kelce’s elite workload.
Tier 2: Players Who Could Dethrone Kelce
2. T.J. Hockenson, Minnesota Vikings
3. Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens
4. Darren Waller, New York Giants
T.J. Hockenson is the top tight end on last season’s third pass-heaviest offense. He ranks 13th in red zone targets from last season while Mark Andrews ranks 14th. Hockenson, though, should see more as former teammate, Adam Thielen, who had the ninth-most red zone targets, is no longer with the Vikings.
Mark Andrews will have the most competition for targets yet on the Lamar Jackson-led Ravens. First round rookie receiver Zay Flowers will be his biggest threat. Andrews should still see plenty of work in a presumed pass heavier, faster paced offense under offensive coordinator Todd Monken.
Darren Waller belongs in this tight end tier as I expect him to lead the New York Giants in targets. Daniel Jones received a contract extension this off-season after throwing just 15 passing touchdowns in 2022. Instead of using their top pick or even trading for an elite wide receiver, they traded a third round pick for Darren Waller. Assuming he stays healthy, he should see enough volume to cement him into the top five at the position.
It’s going to be hard to take down Kelce, but these three in this tight end tier have the best chance to do so.
Tier 3: Mid-Round Options You are Starting Every Week
5. Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles
6. Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons
7. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
Every player in this tight end tier is a fine option to have on your 2023 fantasy football rosters. They don’t cost as much as the players above them, nor should they. If you’re unsure which running back or wide receiver to add to your bench, and don’t have a tight end yet, it’s a good idea to target one of these players.
All three have multiple players on their respective rosters to compete with for targets. There may be multiple weeks each of these players catch a small handful of passes for an underwhelming amount of scoreless yards. However, they all have a weekly high ceiling, as well, that’s worth betting on. They should yield double-digit scores for close to, if not more than, half of their games this season.
Tier 4: The Last Handful of Players to Trust as Your TE1
8. Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers
9. Evan Engram, Jacksonville Jaguars
10. David Njoku, Cleveland Browns
If I can’t land one of the players in the first three tight end tiers, I’m trying to lock one of these three into my lineup. This is the last handful of players you can likely start every week, aside from their bye, throughout the 2023 season. All three finished inside the top-10 last season and should again this year.
Both Freiermuth and Engram drew 98 targets on crowded offenses last season. Njoku drew 80 himself and should see an uptick on expected pass-heavier Cleveland Browns team this season. None of these options will lead their team in targets. They’re likely not the second option, either, but have very good opportunities to be the third best catcher on their respective teams.
Tier 5: Late-Round Targets with Upside
11. Dalton Kincaid, Buffalo Bills
12. Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams
13. Dalton Schultz, Houston Texans
14. Chigoziem Okonkwo, Tennessee Titans
If you’re drafting one of these players in this tight end tier, you’re one of the last managers in your league to draft a tight end. Don’t worry. There is enough upside here to bank on especially since you’ve likely prioritized strong options at running back and wide receiver.
Tyler Higbee has the highest floor in this tight end tier. He is the 32nd-most targeted player from the 2022 season. Ahead of the 2023, Higbee looks primed for another heavy dose of targets on a Rams team that is likely playing from behind often.
Dalton Kincaid’s ceiling is hard to ignore. Also, of the players in this tight end tier, Kincaid is catching passes from the best quarterback of the group. I’m higher than most on Kincaid with the expectation he commands a significant role as the slot receiver for the Buffalo Bills. It’s worth noting wide receiver, Cole Beasley, drew over 100 targets from Josh Allen in three straight seasons as the Bills’ slot receiver.
Dalton Schultz and Chig Okonkwo are solid tight ends, but each have big question marks. Schultz may or not be the top target on a team with a rookie quarterback. I also expect the Houston Texans to take a run-first approach this season. Okonkwo is definitely on a run-first team. The Tennessee Titans have been top-six in rush attempts in each of the last four seasons.
Tier 6: Potential Career Year Candidates to Stash
15. Greg Dulcich, Denver Broncos
16. Sam LaPorta, Detroit Lions
17. Hunter Henry, New England Patriots
18. Hayden Hurst, Carolina Panthers
19. Juwan Johnson, New Orleans Saints
20. Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Chargers
When your team’s TE1 is on a bye, or worse, suffers an injury, these are the players to target as replacements. I can make a case for each player in this tight end tier to carve out enough of a role to have a career year in 2023. You or your league mates will probably stream one of these players at some point during the season. When given the choice, go with the player who has the best matchup that week.
Don’t overlook Sam LaPorta here. The Detroit Lions have plenty of targets up for grabs, especially at tight end. LaPorta could be uncharacteristically busy for a rookie tight end.
Tier 7: The Best of the Rest
21. Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills
22. Trey McBride, Arizona Cardinals
23. Luke Musgrave, Green Bay Packers
24. Noah Fant, Seattle Seahawks
25. Irv Smith Jr., Cincinnati Bengals
26. Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears
27. Jake Ferguson, Dallas Cowboys
28. Tyler Conklin, New York Jets
29. Michael Mayer, Las Vegas Raiders
30. Isaiah Likely, Baltimore Ravens
You may start a handful of the players in this tight end tier at some point in the 2023 season. There is a lot of potential with some of these players, but potential doesn’t always yield fantasy points. With deeper benches or perhaps in a tight end premium league, a few of these tight ends are worth stashing. Otherwise, they’re likely targets for Daily Fantasy Sports lineups instead.
For more great rankings and analysis, make sure to check out our 2023 Fantasy Football Draft Kit!
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