The college football season is nearing the end of regular season play, and my fellow Nerds know what that means. It’s time to talk about draft prospects! As part of the devy team at Dynasty Nerds, I’m thrilled to bring you my top ten 2022 draft-eligible tight ends. We are all aware of the time it takes for tight ends to break out into dynasty fantasy football, which makes it even more important to know the players in the early stages of scouting. The 2022 TE prospect list is not as attractive as a year ago when Kyle Pitts headlined that group, but it does have some sneaky depth. Here are my top players from this year’s potential draftees at the TE position without further ado.
6’5” 255 lbs, Texas A&M
There’s very little debate for me on the TE1 in the 2022 class. Wydermyer is precisely what you’re looking for in a future NFL TE. The Texas A&M product is a big physical player who can go up and over the back of defenders to catch the ball. He can also beat opposing defensive backs with his speed. He brings the type of effort you like to see in the run game while blocking, which NFL teams should like knowing how effective he is already as a receiving option.
Wydermyer has all the tools and stats to make him the highest-drafted TE in the team’s history. Martellus Bennett was drafted in the second round by the Dallas Cowboys in the 2008 NFL Draft after his stellar career at Texas A&M. The former Cowboys, Packers, and Patriots TE had a respectable career with over 400 receptions and 30 touchdowns. With all due respect to Bennett, Wydermyer is a better player and should be the TE to target in dynasty rookie drafts. He hauled in 103 receptions for 1,306 yards and scored 16 touchdowns in just 30 games. If there’s any TE you can expect year one production from in this class, my money would be on the record-setting TE from Texas A&M.
6’4” 240 lbs, Coastal Carolina
One of the more polarizing players for this group of TEs, without a doubt, will be Coastal Carolina’s Isaiah Likely. The first highlight I’ve ever watched of Likely, the word that came to mind was an athlete. He looks like he belongs on a football field making plays, and his production backs that up. He has played 30 college games, scored at least five touchdowns in every season, and increased his yardage total in each of those seasons. Likely led the Sun Belt Conference in yards per reception in 2020 as a Junior and led the conference in receiving touchdowns (8) this season.
In this situation, knowing your league mates and scoring rules is an ultimate advantage. To a fault, most of the time, dynasty managers will assume that because your league scoring rules are TE-premium that you need to take them early. This is rarely the case, as it sometimes takes an entire rookie contract for a TE to break out. The adjustment from Power 5 college football conferences to the NFL is a big adjustment. So as you can imagine, it could be tougher on players who aren’t used to top-level competition. The NFL draft will be the most important detail in determining the value of Likely as a dynasty asset. I likely have him higher now than I will after the 2022 NFL Draft weekend, but his landing spot and draft capital will be critical.
6’4” 260lbs, Colorado State
McBride is the second of three top players at the TE position from a non-power five conference. He is a very talented player who has produced well while at Colorado State. McBride is having his best season as a senior with 65 receptions for 740 yards and a touchdown. The Colorado State TE is a well-rounded player with a very fluid ability to adjust to bad passes to make the catch. He plays at Colorado State, so you can imagine he’s used to less than NFL-level throws from his quarterbacks over the last four years.
Dynasty managers have very different things they look for in prospects every year, making this game very fun. McBride has the skill set, size, and stats to be put in the conversation for the top three tight ends in the 2022 class. This will be another player that we can be patient with, which you can afford to take in the fourth round or later. He has the potential to sit a season or two on your taxi squad or deep on your roster.
6’6” 260 lbs, Iowa State
To say Kolar is interesting is putting it lightly. The Iowa State Cyclones TE flipped a coin after the 2020 season to decide whether or not to enter his name in the 2021 NFL Draft. Luckily for Iowa State and college football fans, he returned for his senior season. Kolar has 19 career receiving touchdowns for the Cyclones and has finished top 10 in the Big 12 conference in receptions and receiving yards in each of the past two seasons. The top two things that Kolar does very well start with his blocking; this should help him carve out a role sooner than later in the NFL. Secondly, his release off the line to be able to put pressure on his defenders is very underrated. Possessing these skills while still at the collegiate level gives me hope he can be an effective NFL player.
Kolar could, likely, make one of the most effortless transitions of all the TEs in this class. His return to Iowa State likely sees a dip in production for him by season’s end but trust me, NFL teams know how good he is. For the third straight season, the Iowa State TE has been named to the Mackey Award list (Nations Top TE). What makes Kolar an intriguing dynasty prospect is his ability to be a safety blanket, which would be very beneficial for a young QB. If he finds himself drafted to a team with a young developing QB and opportunity to play, he may be able to make an impact as a rookie.
6’4” 230 lbs, Alabama
Billingsley was much higher on many preseason TE watch lists. He’s a very talented player but overall still relatively unpolished at the position. His body type is a bit misleading, and it’s rare to see a potential TE at just 230 lbs, although his tape where he blocks you’d swear he was 250 lbs. Despite Alabama featuring some of the best young stars in the NFL, Billingsley was still able to haul in 29 receptions and five touchdowns in the past two seasons.
The hype around Billingsley as an elite NFL TE has cooled over the season. His biggest strengths have been as a pass-catching weapon. Under first-year Alabama offensive coordinator Bill O’Brien, he only has managed 11 receptions in five games. It’s fair to think he will be a much better professional player than in college. My advice is don’t overpay for him in your rookie drafts to find out. Unless he’s a late second or early third-round NFL draft pick, don’t just draft a player because of where he played college football.
Jahleel Billingsley has the tools to be starting on Sundays very soon. The year’s theme will be, don’t sacrifice a helpful dynasty asset to wait for a TE to develop. As always, do what’s best for how you’re building your dynasty team. Drafting players who potentially could be two to three years away from significant value isn’t the best strategy, especially when we’re talking about tight ends.
6’5” 252 lbs, Ohio State
Ruckert was a four-star recruit and the number two overall TE in the 2018 class. The Ohio State offense does not feature the TE, leaving Ruckert’s production dependent on his ability to score touchdowns. He has made an impact as a blocker for an excellent Ohio State running game over the past few seasons. He’s far from a complete TE, but he does show flashes as a pass-catcher despite having just 47 career receptions.
A common theme with rookie TEs in dynasty fantasy football is the landing spot. This will be no different for Ruckert, who will need a year or two to develop into an NFL offense. Ruckert was named to the preseason Mackey Award list; he’s averaging 12.8 yards per reception and has hauled in three touchdowns this season. The Ohio State senior TE has scored 12 touchdowns on 46 receptions over the past 21 games. Ohio State will likely be playing in the college football playoff again this season, and this will be another chance for Ruckert to show his skills on the biggest stage. Last season Ruckert hauled in four receptions for 91 yards and two touchdowns in two playoff games. Another big postseason performance could only help his draft stock.
6’4” 254 lbs, Indiana
Peyton Hendershot has had an interesting college career, to say the least. Unfortunately for the Indiana native, off-the-field issues have overshadowed his play on the field at times. Hendershot has dealt with injuries, suspensions, and reinstatements over his career but has still managed to be one of the most intriguing prospects in this class. Hendershot has compiled 109 receptions and 12 touchdowns over his last three seasons for the Indiana Hoosiers. The ability he possesses when the ball is in his hands can help any NFL offense immediately.
There absolutely can be a scenario where Hendershot finds his way to reasonable opportunity within his first few years in the league. As a dynasty manager, he’s a project TE who likely would benefit greatly from playing with a veteran TE on the back end of his career. His lack of polish in the pass and run blocking game will hurt his draft stock but hopefully, NFL teams will find him coachable in those areas and look past that because he is such a potential mismatch as a pass-catcher. Hendershot is likely a sixth or seventh-round rookie draft pick even in TE-premium leagues that could be a steal three to four years down the road if the stars align just right.
6’5” 250 lbs, Washington
Otton was a three-star recruit from Washington in 2017 despite scoring double-digit touchdowns (13) and racking up 107 tackles as a senior at Tumwater High School. The Washington TE has solid size, route-running ability, and strong hands. All of these qualities can give him a chance to be a solid pro at the next level. Otton returned for the 2021 season to help improve his draft stock after a shortened season in 2020, where he only played four games. As a Washington Huskie, Otton averaged 2.8 receptions per game, 33.4 yards per game, and 0.3 touchdowns per game.
The depth of the 2022 TE class will afford NFL teams that are in the hunt for a young athletic TE many opportunities late in the draft to acquire one. Otton is another player that will need to develop before dynasty managers can trust keeping him on their active rosters. He has as good a chance as any of these mid to late-round players to prove himself. The inconsistency from year to year at the TE position gives managers hope that all you need is a few touchdowns to maintain relevance as a top 36 dynasty TE. Otton is a player who can do just that if given the opportunity once he develops and learns the offensive system.
6’5” 245 lbs, Miami
Well, this wouldn’t be a true TE article if we didn’t mention one of my beloved Miami Hurricanes. Mallory is a native of Jacksonville who was a four-star recruit in the 2018 class. Mallory committed to Miami along with former Hurricane and 2021 fifth-round draft pick Brevin Jordan. The son of former Michigan DT Mike Mallory finally got his chance to be the Hurricanes starting TE in 2021. The instability at the QB position and a tough schedule to start has limited Mallory’s opportunities this season. He has only accounted for 175 yards and two touchdowns on just 16 receptions.
Keeping my team bias out of it, there’s real hope for Mallory as an NFL pro. Brevin Jordan was a much more exciting playmaker, and it’s likely that Mallory isn’t drafted as high, especially with a down season in 2021 after being named to the John Mackey Award watchlist in the preseason. The Miami TE can make an impact in the NFL, but he will need to do that as a team’s second option like he did in college. His best season was in 2020, with Brevin Jordan on the roster when he compiled 22 receptions, 329 yards, and four touchdowns. Unless there’s a ton of pre-draft buzz from teams, there won’t be many dynasty managers interested in acquiring the Hurricanes TE unless they have a surplus of picks in a rebuild.
6’3” 245 lbs, UCLA
Dulcich is a native of California who was recruited to UCLA to play WR. After that didn’t work out as planned, he chose to try his hand at playing TE and bulked up to make that happen. His work ethic and desire to do whatever it takes to help his team win show a lot about his character. The UCLA tight end struggled as a blocker, adjusting to TE as expected, but his impact in the passing game made up for that. In just seven games during the 2020 season, he posted 26 receptions, 517 yards, and five touchdowns. In just eight games this season, Dulcich is on pace to set career highs in each of those categories again while also improving as a blocker.
Dulcich is the early favorite for the most significant riser among this TE class from now until when he is drafted. He offers so much upside for NFL offenses, and he’s improving every season, both on tape and in his production. His speed, route running ability, and reliable hands give you everything you’re looking for in a WR in a newly built TEs body. As much as any other TE in this draft, we will have to closely monitor draft capital and landing spots. If he’s allowed to play in an NFL offense that needs a TE to get vertical in the passing game, he can be a true sleeper as a rookie.
Sam LaPorta, Iowa
LaPorta could be the next man up for the recently crowned ‘TEU’ Iowa Hawkeyes. Former Hawkeyes George Kittle, Noah Fant, and T.J. Hockenson are all top 10 dynasty TEs. At this point, anyone playing TE for Iowa with NFL upside deserves a look. Over his last 16 games, Laporta has 58 receptions for over 600 receiving yards and three scores.
Cole Turner, Nevada
Turner is a gifted athlete who can put pressure on a defense. He has 49 receptions in each of his last two seasons while scoring 17 touchdowns during that time. Playing with future first-round pick Carson Strong has dramatically benefited him. Dynasty managers should keep his name on their radar as the NFL draft approaches this off-season.
Austin Stogner, Oklahoma
A year ago, Stogner burst onto the scene with 26 receptions, 422 yards, and three touchdowns in just eight games. Lincoln Riley uses his versatility to his advantage lining up the young TE everywhere from TE to WR to H-Back. He has a long way to go to be a feature TE in the NFL, but there’s a chance he can get there.
Josh Whyle, Cincinnati
Whyle and the Cincinnati Bearcats offense have been effective over the past two seasons. He is a natural hands catcher with a lean frame. He has accounted for 11 touchdowns over the last 17 games played. His dynasty value will be tied to how NFL teams view him during the NFL draft.
James Mitchell, Virginia Tech
One of the more versatile players in this class, Mitchell is very effective as a pass-catching TE. The Virginia Tech TE would be much higher on this list, but an early-season injury has forced him to miss almost the whole season. Most expect Mitchell to return to Virginia Tech in 2022 to improve his draft stock and enter his name into the 2023 NFL draft.
The TE position is one of the most difficult to project from college to the NFL. Some of the best TEs in the NFL were not highly productive college players. It seems at times it takes almost three to five seasons for a TE to breakout, and most dynasty managers don’t feel they have the time to wait, especially those contending every year. We have to stress the importance of patience with the TE position. Give your players time to develop without being forced to drop them in your leagues.
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