Every year fantasy football analysts everywhere take to the stage and claim to know who the most valuable fantasy player might be for the upcoming season. But what if it isn’t a certain player? What if it might be a position that continues to get overlooked year after year: tight end?
The tight end position has become so under-appreciated that in some fantasy leagues, people are talking about getting rid of it as a whole and just adding another flex spot. However, this isn’t a roster spot that people should be looking past, but instead the roster spot that should be focused on. I’m here to show you why and give you an edge that could help you win your fantasy leagues.
Every other fantasy player will look at the early rounds of your draft as a chance to stock up on the names that everyone thinks they should get. Whether that be a big-name running back like Jonathon Taylor or a shifty receiver like Justin Jefferson, everyone has the name they like. While I do suggest drafting a reliable running back in the first round, both the running back and wide receiver positions have some of the most depth we have ever seen. Even after that guy in your league inevitably drafts Patrick Mahomes in the first round, there’s still depth at quarterback for you. If you don’t get your hands on one of the top tight ends early, you’re gonna be stuck streaming Jared Cook week after week hoping he might score a touchdown.
This year, there are, at most, 6 reliable tight ends you can draft. In my case, what’s helped me win leagues has been acquiring 2 of these elite tight ends for my team. While it might seem crazy, there’s nothing wrong with putting a tight end at your flex spot. Here are the 6 tight ends that you should draft early this year:
Travis Kelce – The most obvious and reliable tight end to draft is Travis Kelce. With a consensus ADP of 15.5, Kelce isn’t a guy who will fall far out of the first round, if at all. Last year, Kelce racked up 1,125 receiving yards, along with 9 touchdowns, and finished as the TE2 in an offense alongside Tyreek Hill. With the Chiefs’ trade that sent Hill to Miami, it’s going to open up Kelce as not only Patrick Mahomes’ favorite target (if he wasn’t already), but also his only reliable target. Sure, the Chiefs drafted wide receiver Skyy Moore this year, but Kelce will absolutely be Mahomes’ guy this season. Kelce will be worth his price and is easily the most reliable tight end in fantasy football this season.
Mark Andrews – Last year’s TE1 is, once again, one of the best picks in fantasy football. Andrews has a consensus ADP of 21.7, so he is going late in the second round. Similar to Travis Kelce, Andrews is the only true receiving option for his quarterback. In situations where it matters, Lamar Jackson won’t be looking at Devin Duvernay or James Proche, but instead to the target whom he has the most chemistry with in Andrews. Andrews has also played at least 14 games in every season of his career, which is one of the most important attributes of a player. Between his availability and chemistry with his quarterback, Andrews checks all the boxes for another successful fantasy season.
George Kittle – George Kittle is a wildcard for fantasy football in 2022. Playing 14 games in 2021, and just 8 games in 2020, it’s safe to say Kittle has had his fair share of injury issues over recent years. We only got a brief preview of Trey Lance in 2021, but Kittle was targeted on almost 30% of Lance’s throws. This is a number that will most likely increase in 2022. It’s fair to say that this is Trey Lance’s “rookie” season, as this will be the first time we see Lance as the QB1 in San Francisco. Kyle Shanahan will want to make it as easy as possible for Lance. Kittle is the most reliable pass catcher on the team, and it’s difficult to assume Lance will want to make risky, high energy plays. The easy, available target will be Kittle. Additionally, Kittle excels in extending the play and is one of the best at recording yards after the catch. The expected volume that Kittle will receive makes him an easy draft pick, especially with a consensus ADP of 48.1.
Darren Waller – Darren Waller has a consensus ADP of 46.7, very close to that of George Kittle. Those drafting Waller should be optimistic, since the Raiders’ head coach, Josh McDaniels, led an offense during his previous years in New England that heavily utilized the tight end. The Raiders offensive talent room got a lot more crowded this past off-season when they added Davante Adams. Adams has a connection with Derek Carr already and will most likely take away from some of Waller’s targets, but that’s no reason to shy away from the tight end. The Raiders are playing in the most competitive division in football and their defense isn’t all that impressive, meaning they are going to be playing from behind in a lot of their games. This is going to force the Raiders to throw the ball, and with many teams wanting to cover Adams, it should open up Waller for many more targets and catches. Feel confident drafting Darren Waller in 2022.
Dallas Goedert – The Eagles’ offense is another one that got more crowded in the off-season as well. They added A.J. Brown, who will no doubt be the WR1 in Philly next season. However, with a consensus ADP of 86.5, Goedert is a name you can get in the later rounds that can be a TE1. It’s important to remember that many defenses are going to be focused on the dual threat of A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith, which will leave Goedert one-on-one with a linebacker. Additionally, it can’t be ignored that Goedert has chemistry with Jalen Hurts. Last year, Goedert received at least 5 targets in more than half of the Eagles’ games. He finished as the TE6 in fantasy leagues from Week 7 to Week 18 (after Zach Ertz was traded). A combination of Goedert’s speed and hands, along with the chemistry that has developed between him and Hurts, makes Goedert a viable option for your fantasy team.
Dalton Schultz – Dalton Schultz was a pleasant surprise for those who drafted him in 2021. While many didn’t draft him expecting to be a top option at the position, he ended up finishing as the TE3. With the Cowboys’ loss of Amari Cooper, owners should expect Schultz to be a premier option at the position in 2022. He’s also undervalued with a consensus ADP of 67.6, leaving him as a top choice with the combination of both volume and value. Given, Schultz disappointed in the red zone last season. He was targeted only 12 times, which ranked 18th among all tight ends. This number should increase with Cooper’s absence, as Cooper ranked 14th amongst all receivers in red zone targets. However, Schultz was 5th in overall targets at his position, and you should feel confident with him as your tight end in 2022.
For those steaming from the ears, furious at me for not including a certain Falcons tight end on this list, relax. Let me explain: In 2021, Kyle Pitts was one of the best tight ends in the league. He had 1,026 receiving yards, which was third most at the position. The problem was, Pitts only scored one touchdown all season. The Falcons acquired Marcus Mariota to be their starting QB during the off-season. Mariota spent the last few years with the Raiders, where they only used him as a red zone threat to rush for a touchdown every once in a while. We haven’t seen Mariota throw a football in quite some time, and while it’s possible that the time spent in a room with Derek Carr helped him, it’s more realistic to assume that Mariota will be a run-first QB in the Falcons offense. Pitts has a consensus ADP of 34.8, which is early for a guy who only had one touchdown last season. Matt Ryan is a more reliable QB than Marcus Mariota if you’re drafting a Falcons’ pass catcher, and Pitts still didn’t do enough for where he was getting drafted last year. A combination of a high ADP and unknown QB play leaves Kyle Pitts off the list.
It can’t be explained enough how important securing a good tight end in fantasy football is. It’s far and away the most difficult position to stream every week, and having a reliable TE1 allows you to work the waiver wire at other positions you may be having trouble in. Play smarter, and prioritize the tight end position.