2022 Fantasy Football Tight End Drafting Strategy

by Daniel Johnson
2023 Fantasy Football TE Must Draft List

We're back here at F6P to talk more tactics turkey as we round out our preseason draft kit! Today's edition: 2022 Fantasy Football Tight End Drafting Strategy.

If you've followed my other Drafting Strategy posts, you'll have gotten used to a bit more of a deliberate round-by-round rundown than I'll be using for tight ends. Obviously, this is because the strategy is different for this position; there are vastly fewer names I'm targeting in the first 100 picks.

Rather than the traditional approach, let's take a first half/second half outlook here.

I'll still detail the rounds/ADP at which I'd consider taking a given TE. We simply need not be as granular with the individual rounds.

2022 Fantasy Football Tight End Drafting Strategy

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First Half of Your Draft (Rounds 1-8)

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I tell you true when I say I think there are only six wise tight end picks you should be targeting in the top 100 players in your draft.

This may seem mightily low, and it is. According to FantasyPros ADP, ten tight ends have been plucked from the pool before the 96th-overall pick. And it's likely, in your drafts, that the cascade effect (as with quarterbacks) will take place: once the second-or-third tight end leaves the board, so too will the next four or five.

But I caution you to be patient, and remember that there's always a tight end or two who emerge as starters from waivers. In last year's case, it was Dawson Knox and Pat Freiermuth.

Here are my top-six tight ends, listed as I've ranked them, with notes on what round I think you should target them:

  • Travis Kelce: No-brainer mid-to-end of second round pick here. He'll get fed. Mahomes still looks good despite the loss of Tyreek Hill. Kelce is his binky. Not to mention, Kelce stays healthy.
  • Mark Andrews: You might see him fly off the board before the end of the second round. Take him early third, if you can. The looming rise of Isaiah Likely is something that might legitimately affect his value. But he's as reliable as they come.
  • Kyle PittsDon't take him before the fourth round. It's just not worth it, given all the other positional value there. But he's shown good rapport with Mariota, and he's going to improve in his second NFL year.
  • Darren WallerFifth-to-sixth round for me. Lots of mouths to feed in Oakland, but they are extremely pass-happy, and get into shootouts a lot. If Waller can stay healthy, he'll justify this value.
  • George KittleCan't believe he's all the way down to my fifth-ranked TE, but here we are. Run-first offensive scheme, health issues, uncertainty at quarterback—all things working against Kittle as he gets older. He's still worthy of a top-five TE value, but I wouldn't draft him until the seventh-or-eighth round.
  • Dalton SchultzI would take him right around where you'd take Kittle; just before the end of the eighth round. Dak likes him. Two top-five TE finishes in the last two years. Jarwin and Cooper are gone. Dallas will score points. Someone besides CeeDee Lamb has to catch the ball.

Second Half of Your Drafts (Rounds 8-16)

I'm going to break this into two categories: Tight Ends to Comfortably Target as Starters, and Tight Ends to Target for Your Bench. The latter serves mostly as an umbrella category suggesting possible breakouts and/or sleepers.

Tight Ends to Comfortably Target as Starters in the Second Half of Your Drafts

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Try as I might, I can't bring myself to list more than nine more tight ends who should perform as potential starters to target in the second half of your drafts.

Here they are, listed as I've ranked them, with notes on what round I think you should target them:

  • Zach ErtzProvided he can stay healthy, I think I might be all in on Zach Ertz this year. Hopkins is out for six games. Kirk is gone. I'll look for Ertz to build on his 2021 revival season. Take him in the ninth round, if he's still there.
  • T.J. HockensonHealth is a serious issue with this guy. The Lions have a lot of mouths to feed now, too. But Hock has a great rapport with Goff. If he can stay on the field, he might be the best value TE of them all. Take him in the ninth-or-tenth.
  • Dallas Goedert: Week-to-week, it always feels like you live by Goedert, die by Goedert. I feel like we're going to be looking at a similar season as 2021 for him. Lots of routes run, decent air yards, but a conversion/efficiency rate that leaves a lot to be desired. A.J. Brown's presence caps his upside, too. Tenth-/eleventh-rounder, for me.
  • Dawson Knox: It's possible I might be too low on Knox. I've got him ranked right alongside Goedert. He thrived in the red zone last year, but that dynamic Bills offense has so many options in that range. I'm thinking there might be some TD regression. Still, hard to be bummed about drafting the TE1 for arguably the best offense in the AFC.
  • Cole KmetMaybe the best breakout candidate of all the TEs this year. It's his third season. Last year, he had 12 red zone targets, and none of them saw him cross the goal line. Think about how much better his final line would have been if even 25% of those had registered. I don't like Fields, but I like the ceiling, here. Take him in the twelfth.
  • Pat Freiermuth: Good thing the Steelers added more help at offensive line. That means less blocking in store for 'Muth. Even in that role last year, he had 20 red zone targets, good for first in the NFL. I know—Trubisky scares me, too. Freiermuth is a fine breakout (re-breakout?) candidate in the late twelfth round.
  • Tyler HigbeeWhat gives with this guy's ADP (TE22?) His expected points-per-game last year was 11.8, good for sixth at the position. Trust him to get the ball a bit more this year in the Rams offense. A delicious thirteenth-rounder.
  • Irv SmithPost-hype candidate. Tyler Conklin is gone. Adam Thielen is getting older. Cousins might look Smith's way in the red zone more if he can stay healthy. I like him in the thirteenth.
  • Hunter HenryPinching my nose a bit here, but I'd like to believe Mac Jones and this Patriots offense can make Henry relevant this year. As to whether the Patriots training staff can keep him healthy? Jury's out. Don't take him until the last two rounds.

Tight Ends to Target for Your Bench

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These guys are mostly sleepers or deep breakout candidates. Listed below in the order I've ranked them:

  • Albert OkwuegbunamMaybe his crazy athletic profile will finally result in some Fantasy success now that Wilson is his QB.
  • Gerald EverettWill Herbert have to keep up the trend of targeting his tight ends? If he does, Everett should provide replacement value.
  • Hayden HurstLots of hype around him in the Bengals offense. Could blow up—I mean that both ways.
  • Mike Gesicki: He'll take a step back this year in the new-look Miami offense.
  • Noah FantI mean, he's playing with the same quarterback. Maybe he just needed a change of scenery?
  • David NjokuProbably not worth stashing solely for when Watson comes back. But one of these years...
  • Isaiah Likely: My favorite on this list. Preseason darling. Legit passing option for Lamar Jackson. Sleeper.

2022 Fantasy Football Tight End Drafting Strategy: Bottom Line

Your fellow leaguemates might scare you into over-drafting tight ends in the middle rounds, just because they're trying to round out their starting rosters. Don't take the bait. There's plenty of late-round value to be had.

While everyone else is scrambling, stay calm, keep a second-half-draft target in mind, and snatch up all the mid-round value at WR and RB.

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