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August 26, 2022

Fantasy football sleepers: Cole Kmet, Albert Okwuegbunam could be savvy tight end draft picks

Oh, the tight end spot.

We spent considerable time a few fantasy seasons ago breaking down just how freaking hard it is to get a good tight end. Things got a little bit better in 2021, but there were still some very distinct haves and have nots.

The top two guys, Travis Kelce (14.6) and Mark Andrews (13.6) were the only two at their position to average more than 12 fantasy points per game last season (.5 PPR). After that duo, there was Rob Gronkowski at 12.0 — he's currently retired — George Kittle at 11.6, and Dalton Schultz at 10.0.

And then there's a drop off. The middling middle of the pack of tight ends last year saw eight players average between 8.0-9.9 points per game (Dawson Knox, Dallas Goedert, Hunter Henry, Darren Waller, Logan Thomas, Zach Ertz, Kyle Pitts and T.J. Hockenson). Here's a look at our top 25 tight ends this season. 

For the purposes of our exercise here, we're going to consider those 10 active tight ends as the non-sleepers. Those players are probably each going to be solid, draftable tight ends. If you are in a 12-team league, or if someone doubles up on tight ends, what do you do then? Who might break out in 2022? What tight ends could be underrated this season?

Here are three such players we think are worth targeting late in your draft:

Cole Kmet, Bears (ADP 117, TE 13)

Kmet has been getting a ton of buzz heading into draft season, and as the dump off, security blanket receiver for a QB who will likely need one in Justin Fields, he could see a lot of targets. With slim pickings on Chicago's offense, there is a real possibility Kmet is the No. 2 option for them on offense, a season after he got 93 targets in 2021. He had an unlikely zero touchdowns on 60 catches last year, and if he is able to haul in a few scores at the goal line he could see himself in the top 10 or better among fantasy TEs.

Albert Okwuegbunam, Broncos (ADP 141, TE 17)

A second-year player, Okwuegbunam could break through this season after the Broncos traded Noah Fant to the Seahawks in the Russell Wilson deal. One of the reasons Denver felt comfortable in sending their top tight end away in the deal was their confidence in Okwuegbunam, who has the talent to emerge as a productive cog in what should be a much improved Broncos offense. Think of him as a less-proven version of Dallas Goedert shedding Zach Ertz in Philly.

Hayden Hurst, Bengals (ADP 204, TE 25)

Hurst's current ADP on Fantasy Pros has him not getting drafted in most leagues, and if he finishes as a free agent in yours, he's someone to keep an eye on. Everyone should want a piece of Cincinnati's high-powered passing offense, and the prices on J'Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins are all going to be awfully high. Hurst will assume TE1 snaps all by himself with C.J. Uzomah now with the Jets. He'll play a ton, and by virtue of being on the field in a talented offense, he should find the end zone. If you are streaming tight ends or waiting for the end of your draft, Hurst could be a steal.

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