Last week my breakout wide receivers were led by explosive talents in George Pickens, Drake London and Donovan Peoples-Jones, but this week we have to buckle down and turn our laser focus to the shallow tight end position. Coming off one of the worst seasons for the position in the history of fantasy football, this is where we really have to dig deep as analysts. Who is truly ready to make “The Leap”? Let’s dive in and take a much closer look. 

David Njoku, Cleveland Browns 

You feel like you’ve been reading this for years, right? Well, it’s not that hard to understand when you look at David Njoku: 6’4″, 247 pounds, strong, fast and exploding with potential. 

I think now’s really the time to strike in fantasy, though. Coming off the worst stretch of football in his pro career, Deshaun Watson should be focused on bouncing back with a vengeance in 2023. It’ll be a fresh start for Watson and the Browns, and Njoku should benefit from defensive attention paid to Nick Chubb, Amari Cooper and “DPJ” (mentioned earlier). The Browns have the overall potential to improve as a team, which of course, benefits Njoku on an individual level. 

Then, we look at the landscape of his position in fantasy: It’s Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Mark Andrews, T.J. Hockenson… then everybody else (though I do personally feel comfortable with Dallas Goedert as my TE5 for now). That means the door is wide open for Njoku to jump up and grab that TE6 spot. We just need to see consistency of performance and health from him, and I think now is finally the time. 

Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills 

The opportunities are there – that’s for damn sure. While I happen to be a big fan of the Josh Allen/Sean McDermott QB-coach combo, I do not believe they’ve committed to Knox in any sort of serious way. When you have Allen and Stefon Diggs – two of the best offensive football players on the entire planet – there’s no reason why Knox shouldn’t feast with easy opportunities. Look at it this way… everybody in the building knows Kelce’s getting the ball in KC, yet Andy Reid and Pat Mahomes still find ways for their tight end to dominate on a weekly basis. 

Sure, Kelce is a much, much, much better all-around tight end than Knox, but the parallels are in the strong QB-coach combo and high-powered, high-flying offensive units. As Allen, Diggs, Gabe Davis (and probably a strong new running back) draw defensive looks and attention, Knox should be prancing around wide open in the endzone – and a lot of times, he actually is! At the end of the day, his breakout will be dependent on McDermott and Allen’s collective commitment to consistently increasing his target count. Make the man a priority. 

Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears 

I already like the flashes of chemistry I’ve seen with young Justin Fields, and “the word” is that the Bears’ brass is committed to upgrading their wide receiver position; that’s an obvious win-win start for Kmet in this section. Right now, Darnell Mooney and Chase Claypool lead the way at WR – not the worst duo I’ve ever seen – but they’d be much better off with Mooney as their WR2 and Claypool as their 3. If they can make a move for a legitimate WR1, the field will open up for Kmet in ways he’s simply never seen before at the pro level. 

Kmet has shown steady improvement in his technical skills in his early NFL years, but the ultimate key in fantasy will be the overall balance of the Bears’ offense. Fields’ all-around explosivity is already a fantasy plus for Kmet – Chicago just needs to find ways to make the big picture of its offense come together. While this all sounds nice in theory, well… that’s asking a lot of the Bears’ offense in recent decades, right? 

Daniel Bellinger, New York Giants 

I wanted to write him up second in this piece, but then I was like what if things don’t work out with Daniel Jones? “Danny Dimes” wants a bajillion dollars to play quarterback for the New York Football Giants, and well… is he worth even close to what he’s asking for? 

Let’s table that for now and just assume the two sides work something out in the short term. That brings us to Bellinger as one of Jones’ most reliable targets when healthy. He came along quickly and quietly but came along nonetheless. And let’s not forget that Saquon Barkley is a free agent – what if the Giants simply can’t afford Jones and Barkley at the astronomical price tags they could potentially command? Well if so, then it’s more and more opportunities for Bellinger within Brian Daboll’s carefully tailored offense. 

Bellinger is an easy man to find at 6’5″, 254 pounds, and he’s technically sound for a 22-year-old youngster. If the Giants can solve all of their problems in what is sure to be an extremely tricky (and pivotal) offseason for the franchise, Bellinger could end up in an optimal position to strike within our fantasy landscape. As an individual player, in a vacuum, he might have more potential than both Knox and Kmet. 

I’ll see ya right back here next week! 

John Frascella is a published sports author who has been covering the NFL for 19 years. Follow him on Twitter @LegendSports7 for all things fantasy football, basketball and baseball.