Tight ends are always fascinating and are probably my favorite position to look at for fantasy football purposes… mostly because it’s just chaos. Chaos is an interesting term to use, because its roots are from the Greek Khaos, describing an “emptiness, vast void, chasm or abyss.” It evolved into Chaos, as the Greco-Roman version of the precursor to the Big Bang. But, now it means the exact opposite of that. Sort of how tight ends are named because they traditionally lined up tight to the end of the line of scrimmage. Now, they line up everywhere; out wide, in the slot, in the backfield, and, sometimes, actually tight against the line of scrimmage. Let’s take a look at the top-ten tight ends for the 2022 fantasy football season, shall we?
TE1: Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
There will come a point where someone will dethrone Travis Kelce, but that point hasn’t come for me yet. He finished as TE2 for the first time since 2015, and I am looking at Kelce the same way that fantasy baseball looked at Mike Trout for almost a decade: even if he doesn’t finish as #1, he has the best chance of finishing top-three, and the smallest chance of actively hurting your team. Kelce is a beast and has a tremendous floor as the best target in one of the league’s most potent offenses. There’s no real reason to put anyone else first overall at this point.
TE2: Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens
In week five, prior to Andrews’ Monday Night Football 11 catch, 147 yards, two-touchdown performance, I pointed out that he was the only tight end on the season to finish with multiple top-twelve games without scoring a touchdown. That distinction was important, as that meant that he was producing without the free, cheap six points. He then went on to score nine touchdowns last year and finish as the TE1. My only real concern is the evolution of Rashod Bateman and the returns of J.K. Dobbins, Gus Edwards, and Justice Hill all lowering him from his 154 targets, which are the most for a tight end since Zach Ertz’s 156 in 2018.
TE3: Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders
Darren Waller sprung fully formed from Jon Gruden’s head, much like Athena from Zeus’ head. He also has his own injury problems and is sneakily old (he will turn 30 in week one of 2022). He’s also an absolute target monster literally whenever he is on the field, averaging 7.3, 9.1, and 8.5 targets per game over each of the last three seasons. There’s a case to be made that Waller is the best floor play in the top-ten, given his guaranteed massive target volume. And no, Hunter Renfrow doesn’t scare me. Waller had seven or more targets in five-of-six games after the Hunter Renfrow breakout.
TE4: George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers
Kittle and Waller are unusual cases for me because I’m not quite sure what to do with them. Kittle continues to have persistent injury problems (he has missed multiple games in three-straight seasons), and his target volume is also a concern (he had five games with fewer than five targets), as is the looming handover from Jimmy Garoppolo to Trey Lance, but from a pure, raw talent standpoint, you can’t deny George Kittle. The man topped seven targets five times this season, and he had at least 90 yards in four of those games. If you give him targets, he will score fantasy points. The targets are the main problem, unfortunately.
TE5: Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons
Kyle Pitts in the top-four last season was outright lunacy, given the rookie tight end curse, and the lack of touchdowns likely to be present in the Falcons’ offense. All that stuff came to pass, and I’m also ready to toss it all out. Pitts had the second-best rookie tight end season of all time last year, notching 1,026 yards (Mike Ditka had 1,076 yards in 1961). I’m ready for Kyle Pitts to take a massive step forward, and if the Falcons address their offensive woes, I am prepared to move him up from TE5. But for now, he nestles nicely into a top-five tight end slot.
TE6: T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions
T.J. Hockenson is if George Kittle was… 10% or 15% worse. He has his own injury issues, and question marks around his target volume. He also plays in a worse offense without the same skill level of George Kittle. I still like Hockenson, and I hope he bounces back, but I worry about him failing to live up to expectations three years in a row. He’s definitely the top of a tier break after Kyle Pitts, and fits more with the TE7, TE8 and TE9 guys.
TE7: Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles
Dallas Goedert exemplifies the Top of the Blob Tier, the guy who is very Blobby (4/40 and a touchdown, sometimes) but does just a little bit extra to push it over the edge. For Goedert, it’s averaging four catches for 60 yards per game after the much-ballyhooed Goedert-Zach Ertz split finally happened last season. That doesn’t tell the whole story, however, as in a five-game stretch, Goedert had two games of 28 or fewer yards and two games of 105 or more yards. He’s a perfectly cromulent tight end, but given how inflation tends to occur with Just Okay guys, I doubt I will have any Goedert on my roster outside of spending a buck or two on him in salary cap leagues.
TE8: Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins
Mike Gesicki is a fun case because the man can be utterly dominant one game, and then get erased entirely from the game plan the next game. I am hoping that Brian Flores’ replacement gets more consistent looks for Gesicki, who can reach top-five status but needs a bit of a push. Gesicki is probably the tight end most emblematic of The Blob, averaging 4 catches for 43 yards per game over the last three seasons. His time in Miami is likely done given Mike McDaniel’s need to have a tight end block, and Mike Gesicki being physically incapable of blocking.
TE9: Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers
“Firemouth” had a more useful 2020 fantasy football season than fellow sophomore tight end Kyle Pitts. A good rule of thumb for a top-twelve PPR fantasy tight end week is notching about 10 points, the TE12 vacillates around this mark, but it is a good rule of thumb. Freiermuth had eight of these games, tying him for the rookie record. Kyle Pitts, trying as he might, had just seven of these games. Freiermuth is likely to be an 85-90 target sophomore in the Steelers offense, depending on who ends up in Pittsburgh. At 6’5” and 258 pounds, he’s also the most likely to lead the Steelers in end zone targets in 2022.
TE10: Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys
Schultz is a free agent and has a high likelihood of going the way of Austin Hooper and disappearing off of Jerry Rice’s Green Earth. But, he had 104 targets last season, which ranked sixth among tight ends, en route to finishing seventh at the position. If he stays with the Cowboys, those numbers are likely to maintain, and could possibly even increase. Who am I to keep a target monster like Schultz out of my top ten?
Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills; Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears; Zach Ertz, Arizona Cardinals, Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (currently operating under the assumption that he will retire)