One season after being beaten for the TE1 crown by Mark Andrews, Travis Kelce returned with a flourish as he posted one of the most dominant tight end seasons in NFL History. He reminded everyone that he was the dynasty/fantasy TE1 right now. Kelce had a showstopping season as he helped lead the Kansas City Chiefs to a Super Bowl win. He also led many fantasy owners to fantasy championships. Kelce is still the TE1 in fantasy and the best tight end to own in dynasty if you want to win now. However, is he the TE1 in dynasty? Can he repeat his amazing season? Can Kelce continue to defy Father Time?
2022 Season Recap
As you might recall, Kelce was an unstoppable machine last year in what was his age-33 season. It’s impressive that he’s still dominating at this age, although tight ends tend to age gracefully. Plus, it helps when you’re constantly wide open, thanks to Mahomes and Andy Reid. Kelce played in all 17 games and scored over 100 more fantasy points than the next closest tight end. He truly was a cheat code.
Kelce saw a career-high 152 targets in his first season without Tyreek Hill. He had a career-high 110 receptions for 1,338 yards and another career-high 12 touchdowns. The future Hall of Famer was top-five in nearly every advanced metric. He was number one in expected points added, points per game, routes run, red zone targets, and numerous other categories. In important categories like Dominator Rating, jukes, points per target, yards per route run, target share, and many others, he finished top-ten, usually second. Kelce hardly came off the field. There just was no beating Kelce last year. He played the 2022 NFL Season on beginner mode.
2023 Season Projections
So, what can one expect from Kelce in his age-34 season? After all, Father Time is unbeatable. Everyone begins to show their age and slow down at least at some point. While it’s certainly possible that the massive workload he’s had over the past seven years (956 targets, 675 receptions, 8,607 yards, and countless tackles/blocking) catch up to him this year, I doubt it. He’s shown zero injury risk. He plays in a system that gets him in wide-open spots and utilizes his strengths. Plus, Andy Reid has had Kelce blocking less to keep him healthy. The Kansas City Chiefs know they can’t afford to lose this guy.
That’s why I project another career-high season for Kelce. The Chiefs lost Juju Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman. Kadarius Toney is already hurt. The Chiefs don’t have a truly proven receiver outside of tight end Kelce. Mahomes is going to throw a ton to him. Kelce isn’t doing much more than last year. He should beat Father Time again this year, but he can’t stave him off forever. Kelce retains the title of TE1 in fantasy this year, sorry Andrews. Kelce is a top-five-skill player in fantasy football and dynasty this year. Andrews is my TE2 this year, averaging almost four points lower than Kelce. Stay all-in on Kelce this season.
Long-Term Dynasty Outlook
Kelce is entering his age-34 season. While many tight ends have played well into their mid-thirties, they drop off eventually. You should only be looking to buy him for a late-first or so if you’re win-now like this year. It’s risky to expect too many more dominant years from him. Kelce has absolutely no place on a rebuilding roster. Sell him for the best offer you can. His price is only decreasing despite the elite play.
Let’s look at some comparisons for Kelce from some all-time tight end greats. Antonio Gates had 69 catches for 821 yards and 12 touchdowns in his age-34 season. He never reached those numbers for the next four years until he retired. Jason Witten saw 104 targets and caught 77 of them for 713 yards and three touchdowns in his age-33 season. From 34-retirement, he never came close again. He was reliable but not great. The one exception is Tony Gonzalez. He remained elite and put up fantastic numbers through his age-37 season. Can Kelce do that? Yes, there’s a chance, but history says otherwise. It helps that Kelce will be playing with Patrick Mahomes.
However, you would be taking the risk that Kelce is the exception to the rule. Even Gronk is retired. Kelce will remain fantasy relevant for as long as he plays, but he won’t be a TE1 for the next four years. Start planning for the future while you try to win now with Kelce. He’s the TE1 this year. There’s a decent chance he isn’t next year. Be prepared. The best dynasty owners have backup plans for their backup plans. That’s how you win consistently. For now, enjoy the best tight end in football and watch Kelce dominate defenses once again.
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As always, May the Force be with You…