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August 17, 2023

Fantasy football tight end draft guide: Depth charts, red zone targets and more

Some helpful hints to make drafting a tight end just a little easier.

It's really Travis Kelce or bust when it comes to tight end.

A bit of an exaggeration — maybe. But if you look at the numbers from last season, you can really do yourself a favor by taking the top target of the MVP in Kansas City.

Kelce led all tight ends with 152 total targets. The next closest was TJ Hockenson with 129. He led all tight ends with 1,338 receiving yards. No one else had over 1,000 last season. He had 12 touchdown catches. Only George Kittle had more than seven.

Kelce's 206.3 (half PPR) points were 65 more than the next closest tight end. Touchdowns and targets tend to help.

If you don't nab Kelce, there are, of course, other options. 

Here's a look at targets from 2022 from each team's top two tight ends. This guide could help you to take someone who may surprise by cashing in a reverse touchdown stat regression. (If you are curious, here are our running back, and wide receiver depth charts — with targets). The top 15 most targeted tight ends are bolded:

TeamTE 1 (targets)TE 2 (targets)
CardinalsZach Ertz (69)Trey McBride (39)
FalconsKyle Pitts (59)Jonnu Smith (38)
RavensMark Andrews (113)Isaiah Likely (60)
BillsDawson Knox (65)Dalton Kinkaid (R)
PanthersHayden Hurst (70)
Ian Thomas (30)
BearsCole Kmet (69)Robert Tonyan (67)
BengalsIrv Smith Jr. (36)Mitchell Wilcox (18)
BrownsDavid Njoku (80) Jordan Akins (54)
CowboysJake Ferguson (22)
Peyton Hendershot (16)
BroncosAdam Trautman (22)
Greg Dulcich (55)
LionsSam LaPorta (R)Brock Wright (24)
PackersLuke Musgrave (R)Tucker Kraft (R)
TexansDalton Schultz (89)Teagan Quitoriano (14)
ColtsKylen Granson (40)Mo Alie-Cox (28)
JaguarsEvan Engram (98)Luke Farrell (4)
ChiefsTravis Kelce (152)Noah Gray (34)
ChargersGerald Everett (87)Donald Parham Jr. (12)
RamsTyler Higbee (108) Brycen Hopkins (11)
RaidersAustin Hooper (60)Michael Mayer (R)
DolphinsDurham Smythe (20)
Tyler Kroft (5)
VikingsTJ Hockenson (129)Josh Oliver (25)
PatriotsHunter Henry (59)Mike Gesicki (52)
SaintsJuwan Johnson (65)
Taysom Hill (13)
GiantsDarren Waller (43)Daniel Bellinger (35)
JetsTyler Conklin (87)C.J. Uzomah (27)
EaglesDallas Goedert (69)Grant Calcaterra (9)
SteelersPat Freiermuth (98)Zach Gentry (23)
SeahawksNoah Fant (63)Will Dissly (38)
49ersGeorge Kittle (86)Ross Dwelley (5)
BuccaneersCade Otton (65) Ko Kieft (10)
TitansChigoziem Okonkwo (46) Trevon Wesco (4)
CommandersLogan Thomas (61)John Bates (22)

A few things to keep in mind. Some tight ends above are on new teams (like TJ Hockenson, Darren Waller and Dalton Schultz) and some have new quarterbacks (like Kyle Pitts). But seeing how they were used in 2022 still is helpful in predicting opportunities for 2023.

One last table — here's a look at the top 10 tight ends from last season based on red zone targets from their respective quarterbacks:

TE (team)Red zone targetsTD
Travis Kelce (KC)2910
TJ Hockenson (DET)205
David Njoku (CLE)193
Mark Andrews (BAL)
Dalton Schultz (DAL)165
Gerald Everett (LAC)163
Zach Ertz (ARI)154
Tyler Higbee (LAR)153
Cade Otton (TB)152
George Kittle (SF)133

As you can see, there is a ton of variance between how many times a team throws to a tight end inside the 20-yard line, and how many times it results in a touchdown. Kelce had 17 catches on those 29 targets for 10 touchdowns. Those are fantasy championship-winning numbers.

After the top few guys, drafting tight ends is a crap shoot. But there is value if you look for a player who'll be getting chances to make plays in 2023.

Fantasy Football Rankings, 2023
QB | RB | WR | TE | DEF | K

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