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Top-15 Tight Ends in Tight End Premium Formats

Which TEs should you value in TE Premium dynasty fantasy football? Here's a full ranking of the top-15 TEs broken down into tiers with a general trade value and why they are there.

The love-hate relationship between Tight Ends and the fantasy community is often more hate than love, which is one reason why TE Premium formats exist. Like the jump QBs see in Superflex formats, TEs see a rise in value in TE Premium formats to give the position some more importance.

Fantasy’s “Big 3” of Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Darren Waller have been staples leading the position for years. There hasn’t been much competition atop the mountain as each year has seen their versions of “the next big thing” at the position. But the wait is over with several players entering the higher tiers of TEs in dynasty.

These will be broken down into tiers that include players of similar trade value and upside while considering talent, opportunity, and of course, age.

Tier I

Kyle Pitts, ATL

Pitts was considered a “generational TE prospect” coming out of Florida. He lived up to that label in his rookie season. He became only the second rookie TE in NFL history to hit 1,000 receiving yards in a season (Mike Ditka, 1961). But he only caught one receiving TD on a Falcons’ offense that struggled to say the least. It’s hard to expect much more in 2022 from a team without Calvin Ridley and traded away Matt Ryan. Pitts will continue to be the focal point of this offense for the next decade and will play this season at just 22 years old. It is Pitts, then everyone else in dynasty, even with QB questions.

(Trade Value: Multiple 1st’s, 1st + Multiple Players, Top-5 Player)

Tier II

Mark Andrews, BAL

The reigning No. 1 TE in fantasy is coming off a career year in which Andrews hauled in over 500 more receiving yards than any of his previous seasons. That’s while he was catching passes from Tyler Huntley and Josh Johnson for a third of the season due to Lamar Jackson missing time with an ankle injury. In the past three seasons, Andrews has gained a lot of his production from TDs. He led all TEs with 26 TDs in that span. Jackson will return in 2022 but will the Ravens continue their pass-happy scheme from 2021? They passed the ball over 60% of the time last season, the highest rate for the team since 2016.

(Trade Value: Multiple 1st’s, or 1st + Multiple Players)

Travis Kelce, KCC

This past season was the first time Kelce was not the No. 1 TE in fantasy football since 2015. Albeit, he dropped all the way down to second after being dethroned by Andrews in 2021. Consistency has been Kelce’s middle name for his entire career after missing his rookie season. That includes four straight seasons of 110+ receptions and 1,400 receiving yards since 2018. But he will enter 2022 at 32 years old, so Kelce is the epitome of a “win-now” player in dynasty. Historically, the TE position is known for producing later than any position except QB. And Kelce is the undisputed No. 1 target in the explosive KC offense tied to Patrick Mahomes after Tyreek Hill was traded to MIA.

(Trade Value: 1st, or High-End Starter Level Player)

Tier III

George Kittle, SF

Kittle has some question marks with his injury history (he hasn’t played an entire season since 2018) and the expected change at QB for the 2022 season (Trey Lance taking over for Jimmy Garoppolo). But he is still one of the few TEs that can go for 100+ receiving yards and 2+ TDs any given week. This 49ers offense is a run-first offense and has three players fighting for the limited targets. Kittle was Garoppolo’s favorite target since the QB arrived in 2017. Lance favored Deebo Samuel in his limited action this season. But in games that Samuel wasn’t the alpha, Kittle was. Samuel appears to be forcing his way out and could be traded this week. If it goes through, it would leave Kittle as the undisputed target alpha.

(Trade Value: Early-Mid 1st, or High-End Starter Level Player)

Darren Waller, LVR

In Week 1 last season, Waller saw an insane 18 targets, and many thought that was a sign of things to come for the TE. Little did we know that it would be his only game with 10+ receptions and one of only two games with 100+ receiving yards in 2021 due to multiple injuries. It was the first time since becoming a starter that Waller failed to reach 90 receptions and 1,000 receiving yards in a season. But unlike years past, Waller has another alpha to battle for targets with since the Raiders traded for Davante Adams. He’s also the closest in age to Kelce among the top four tiers.

(Trade Value: Mid-Late 1st, or Above Average Starter Level Player)

Tier IV

Dallas Goedert, PHI

For years, the Eagles have made the TEs a focal point of the offense. The committee of Zach Ertz and Goedert was a nightmare though. Finally, Ertz was traded to the Cardinals in Week 6, and Goedert was unleashed. From Week 7 on, Goedert led the Eagles in receptions and receiving yards. The biggest thing holding Goedert back is the run-heavy offensive scheme the Eagles utilized in the second half of the season. If Jalen Hurts can take another step in his game (or if they transition to a better QB), and the Eagles’ offense becomes more balanced, then Goedert will be in the running for the No. 1 TE in fantasy.

(Trade Value: Mid-Late 1st, or Above Average Starter Level Player)

T.J. Hockenson, DET

Hockenson’s season ended early due to injury for the second time in three seasons in the NFL. While he had a strong start to the season, many expected Hockenson to have been Jared Goff’s security blanket with the barren wasteland the Lions rostered at WR. But that security blanket turned out to be D’Andre Swift instead. The competition won’t stop with Swift as Amon-Ra St. Brown emerged late in the season, and the team is expected to add more WR competition. This Lions offense isn’t likely to be a juggernaut anytime soon. Hockenson is a young, athletic TE that should have a good target share for the team. His ceiling just may be lower than many thought.

(Trade Value: Mid-Late 1st, or Above Average Starter Level Player)

Dalton Schultz, DAL

Before the season, there was a debate as to which Cowboys TE would become the starter on a strong offense connected to a top-tier QB. That debate was closed in Week 3 of 2021. After the two basically split the receiving work through Week 2, Schultz led the team in targets, receptions, and receiving TDs in the final 16 weeks of the season. With the departure of Amari Cooper, Schultz should continue to be a focal point of this offense for at least this year. I’d expect the Cowboys to want to re-sign him to a multi-year deal before even the franchise tag window is over.

(Trade Value: Multiple 2nd’s, or Starter Level Player)

Pat Freiermuth, PIT

Like Pitts, Freiermuth was very successful in his rookie season for a position that is notorious for having a slow learning curve. But they did it in different ways. While Pitts spent most of his snaps lined up as a WR, Freiermuth was the prototypical inline TE that occasionally moved out to the slot. Freiermuth was a major red-zone threat for the Steelers, with seven receiving TDs compared to Pitts’ one. And Freiermuth’s average depth of target was nearly half of Pitts’ in 2021. But both became only the second and third rookie TEs to see more than 75 targets since 2010. Although, Freiermuth has more competition for targets in a run-heavy offense to add to the uncertainty at the QB position.

(Trade Value: Multiple 2nd’s, or Starter Level Player)

Mike Gesicki, MIA

He is one of the most athletic TEs in the league; many have been waiting for a true Gesicki breakout since he entered the NFL. He has increased his receiving yards each year of his career. But in 2021, Gesicki only found the end zone twice. Tua Tagovailoa and Jacoby Brissett struggled to move the ball consistently. Like Pitts, Gesicki is a TE in basically name alone since he lines up at WR essentially every snap. The interesting part will be how Gesicki is used in new Head Coach Mike McDaniel’s offense. Especially after the Dolphins made the blockbuster trade for Tyreek Hill to form, with Jaylen Waddle, one of the fastest trios in the NFL. Will Geisicki be the forgotten piece in the offense?

(Trade Value: Multiple 2nd’s, or Starter Level Player)

Tier V

Dawson Knox, BUF

A young TE with an athletic profile, part of an explosive offense, with a stud QB – what’s a player like that doing down in this tier? There were indeed things to like and things that bring up concerns. This past season, Knox more than doubled his previous season-high for receptions and tripled his last season-high in TDs. He also lined up as a WR more than ever before and had the lowest drop rate of his career. But his targets weren’t quite among the top TEs, ranking behind the likes of Jared Cook and Tyler Conklin while on one of the most pass-heavy offenses last season. The question becomes, can Knox keep up that efficiency and avoid being TD dependent?

(Trade Value: 2nd, or Starter/Flex Player)

Cole Kmet, CHI

Kmet quietly had the ninth-most targets among TEs in the NFL last season. All while being a part of an unexplainable committee, dealing with a rookie QB’s growing pains, and Coach Nagy struggling to find his rhythm as a play-caller. TD-vulture Jimmy Graham is no longer with the team, and the Bears added minimal competition at WR. Kmet’s 89 targets without a receiving TD in 2021 are the third-most by any player since 2015. So it is easy to expect some positive TD-regression next season for the 23-year-old. Justin Fields showed the highest ceiling of play among the rookie QBs during his near upset of Pittsburgh. If he can build upon that and improve this season, then Kmet will be a big beneficiary.

(Trade Value: 2nd, or Starter/Flex Player)

Albert Okwuegbunam, DEN

The biggest winner of the Russell Wilson trade is arguably Okwuegbunam. He was already considered a sleeper at the position because of his highly efficient stats while playing behind Noah Fant. Now that Fant was sent to Seattle to bring Wilson to the Mile High city, it opens the door for Okwuegbunam to break out in a big way. According to PFF, only Jonnu Smith, Mark Andrews, and George Kittle were targeted more frequently per route run than Okwuegbunam. This Broncos offense will be much improved (to say the least), and who’s to say that the young TE won’t be one of his favorite targets? Coach Hackett already has been gushing over Okwuegbunam’s playmaking ability and said the team plans to use him as a “move TE”. Music to our ears.

(Trade Value: 2nd, or Starter/Flex Player)

David Njoku, CLE

After a bumpy start to the offseason, few players saw a rise in value as much as Njoku. There was excitement about the young TE signing elsewhere to finally free him from the committee in Cleveland, only to see the team franchise tag him. Then Austin Hooper was released leaving Njoku as the starter. Finally, the team upgrades at QB from Baker Mayfield to Deshaun Watson. Njoku has shown his electric athleticism as recently as last season, with a 149 receiving yard performance against the Chargers. Only three TEs (Kelce, Kittle, Pitts) recorded more in a single game in 2021, while Njoku and Pitts were the only TEs able to reach 140-yards in a game on less than ten targets. That’s rare upside at the position, and the Browns love their TEs.

(Trade Value: 2nd, or Starter/Flex Player)

Hunter Henry, NEP

Nobody knew how to react to the Patriots signing both Hunter Henry and Jonnu Smith within days of each other last offseason. The two will enter 2022 with the highest and second-highest cap hits at the position, while playing on the same team. Henry emerged as the pass-catcher of the duo and Mac Jones’ favorite red-zone target. But this offense does have its limitations as a run-heavy offense with a QB that is generally described as a game manager. Few TEs will give you as much consistency as Henry has in his career. Even with the injury-prone label, Henry has finished with at least 50 receptions, four TDs, and 600 receiving yards in the past three seasons.

(Trade Value: 2nd, or Starter/Depth Player)

Honorable Mentions

Zach Ertz, ARZ

Arguably one of the safest TEs following his trade to Arizona, Ertz hauled in the second-most receptions at the position from Week 7 on. He also was heavily involved in the red zone and the slot, two very promising metrics. But there are question marks about how he’ll perform with DeAndre Hopkins back and that he is the second-oldest TE on this list.

Noah Fant, SEA

The excitement rose and subsequently plummeted after everyone found out Fant was a part of the package that brought Wilson to Denver. Meaning he may have the same QB he had most of 2021 in Drew Lock. Even though Fant has been a top-12 TE in the past two seasons, his upside is capped with D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett are on the outside of a run-heavy offense.

Irv Smith Jr., MIN

A sleeper for many before last season, Smith Jr.’s breakout opportunity was derailed by an offseason knee injury that cost him the season. Tyler Conklin filled in admirably and showed the floor a TE can produce in this Vikings offense, and few will argue that Conklin is anywhere near as talented as Smith Jr. But he also is unproven as he has yet to reach 400 receiving yards in a season.

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