After laying the groundwork this offseason with full Dynasty player rankings, I wanted to circle back and provide some tiers for added context to those ranks.

Some really quick methodology here if you are new to how I do tiers.

I make my Dynasty tiers based on a blend of age, fantasy performance, career arc, team situation, and fantasy archetype.

There is some overlap to actual player rankings, but these tiers do not specifically follow the rankings but rather those archetypes.

The purpose of tiers not being a carbon copy of player rankings is to spot a potential arbitrage situation and shop in different buckets based on how you are constructing your team in startups. They are also useful when looking for trade opportunities.

A veteran starter that can accrue points immediately might be worth more based on where a current roster is. Other times, it might make sense to chase more youth and upside for the future.

While these tiers will largely be a condensed view of the subset of tiers themselves, you can read more immediate detailed thoughts on every player in the 2023 tight end rankings.

*Player Age = Age on 9/1/2023

Tier 1 Tight Ends:

  • Kyle Pitts (Age: 22.9)

Pitts may have the largest disparity among all players in 2023 seasonal value for redraft leagues versus Dynasty leagues..

Pitts took a step back in his second season in the league. After he averaged 4.0 receptions for 60.4 yards per game as a rookie, he only averaged 2.8 receptions for 35.6 yards per game last season. He also only appeared in 10 games due to injury to further compound matters, leaving him with 28 receptions for 356 yards and two touchdowns in the season.

After that letdown in the box score, there are whispers that Pitts is overrated and potentially not a good football player, which is far from the case.

After a 1,000-yard rookie season as a 21-year-old tight end, Pitts was still sixth among all tight ends last season in yards per route run (1.72 yards). He was targeted on 28.5% of his routes, which led all tight ends that ran 100 or more routes last season.

The issues in translating that over to fantasy points were systemic through the Atlanta offense and their quarterback play.

Pitts only ran 20.7 routes per game, which was 28th at the position. On top of limited volume, 28.8% of his targets were deemed inaccurate due to the quarterback, which led the position.

Unfortunately, the Atlanta offense looks similar on the surface for 2023. Every move they have made this offseason has shown that they are swerving into their identity as a run-based offense.

Pitts will have the opportunity to create splash plays when called upon, but his target volume appears to be capped short term while we still are gauging where Desmond Ridder is.

That said, even with those concerns still present for this season, Pitts still has a massive amount of Dynasty appeal at the position in isolation.

He will turn just 23 this October. Travis Kelce was age 27 when he first led tight ends in scoring. Pitts is nearly a full year younger than Dalton Kincaid, who still has yet to play a down in the NFL.

There is an outcome where this group of rookie tight ends could have someone tighten the gap between Pitts and the other younger players at the position, but we still have a ton of runway for Pitts as a Dynasty asset at a position where he can offer leverage.

Tier 2 Tight Ends:

  • Travis Kelce (Age: 33.9)

Kelce also gets an entire tier to himself.

He is the complete inverse of what we just highlighted with Pitts. Kelce will turn 34 one day prior to Pitts turning 23.

Who knows when Kelce will finally hit a wall or just ride off on top of his Hall of Fame career, but he is on a run of elite overall fantasy output paired with positional dominance that we have not seen in fantasy since Jerry Rice.

If you are in a startup you are likely passing on Kelce with premier capital, but while Kelce is playing, he is the frontrunner to not only pace the position in scoring but does so on an overall clip that impacts season-long outcomes. He has an attachment to the best quarterback in the NFL while clearly being the best individual pass catcher on his roster by a wider margin than any other tight end can say.

Kelce has outright led all tight ends in scoring in six of the past seven seasons. The one time that he did not (2021) he was second.

Last season, Kelce set career-highs in targets (152), catches (110), and touchdowns (12). His 1,338 yards were the second most in a season, which also was his seventh consecutive season going over 1,000 yards receiving. No other tight end in league history has had more than four 1,000-yard seasons over their entire career, let alone seven in a row.

Tier 3 Tight Ends:

  • T.J. Hockenson (Age: 26.2)
  • Mark Andrews (28.0)
  • George Kittle (29.9)
  • Dallas Goedert (28.7)
  • Darren Waller (31.0)

This is the core group of established producers at the tight end position right now that are still at the heart of their careers.

With nearly all of these players being in their late twenties, that says something about the current state of the landscape of the position while also serving as a reminder that tight ends are typically a slower burn than the other skill positions.

T.J. Hockenson has yet to show us that he is a sensational standalone talent in the context of efficiency versus needing volume among tight ends, but he was a high draft capital prospect and is coming off his best season to date, which was sparked by a midseason trade to the Vikings.

From Week 9 through the end of the regular season, Hockenson was second among all tight ends in targets (86), catches (60), and receiving yards (519) behind only Travis Kelce. His 21.8% share of the Minnesota targets over that span was third at the position.

Hockenson did take advantage of the Minnesota offensive climate over that stretch. He ran the most pass routes in the league (36.1 per game) over that span while his 1.44 yards per route run was 15th. Hockenson’s 8.7 yards per catch and 6.0 yards per target with the Vikings were the lowest rates of his career.

Hockenson will look to find a marriage of efficiency and volume this season while playing on the fifth-year option. Given his counting stats with the team and the trade compensation, it would be surprising if Minnesota did not attempt to sign Hockenson to a longer contract, although the pending contracts for Justin Jefferson and whatever they are going to do at quarterback also carry significant weight.

Over the opening six weeks of the season, Mark Andrews caught 39-of-57 targets for 455 yards and all five of his touchdowns. He was once again neck-and-neck with Travis Kelce in terms of output over that span as the league’s most productive tight end. Andrews was even leading the position in yards per route run (2.32) and target rate per route (29.1%).

Then Andrews picked up shoulder and knee injuries and never was quite the same the rest of the season. Tack on the fact that Baltimore lost Lamar Jackson once again for the stretch run. Over the remaining 10 games he played, Andrews caught 39-of-66 targets for 465 yards and zero touchdowns.

The Ravens have Mark Andrews signed through 2025. Make no mistakes about how he closed last season; Andrews is still the best bet to rival Travis Kelce for the 2023 season.

Both Dallas Goedert and George Kittle share a ton of similarities. Both are close in age. Both have shown us that they are talented players on their own merit through efficiency. And both are players that have been volatile producers because the offenses that they play in do not provide the same target volume consistency as their peers.

Goedert was fourth among all tight ends in yards per route run (1.83). He averaged 7.6 yards per catch after the reception (fourth) and was third among all tight ends in yards after the catch (420) despite missing five games.

The rub is that he ranked 24th in target rate per route run (18.0%) while his 5.8 targets per game were 10th, which limited him to just two top-six scoring weeks. I do anticipate the Eagles to be pressed to throw more in the second half of games this season, but Goedert also is clearly third on the team target tree behind A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith.

The Kittle experience is one we have come to live with at this point. His highs are among the best at the position.

He was fifth among all tight ends in yards per route run (1.73 yards) while the only tight ends to average more yards after the catch per reception with as many catches as Kittle had were Goedert and Evan Engram. Kittle had six games as a top-six scorer and four of those were finishing that week first or second in points scored.

But we also take on the low weeks with Kittle in this low-volume San Francisco passing game. Kittle had another six weeks as the TE20 or lower. His 5.7 targets per game were 11th at the position.

Darren Waller is the “oldest” player in this tier. He does come with the risk of already being on the downswing if you are buying since he has missed 14 games over the past two seasons. But he does have a cleaner path to leading his team in targets for 2023 than the rest of this group.

While active last season, Waller was stuck in a field-stretching role. His 13.4 air yards per target were a career-high while 32.6% of his routes were go routes, the highest rate at the position. That will surely revert to his prior career norms transitioning to the Giants and playing with Daniel Jones.

Tier 4 Tight Ends:

  • Dalton Kincaid (Age: 23.9)
  • Pat Freiermuth (24.9)
  • Michael Mayer (22.2)
  • Sam LaPorta (22.6)
  • Luke Musgrave (23.0)
  • Greg Dulcich (23.0)
  • Chigoziem Okonkwo (24.0)
  • Cole Kmet (24.5)
  • Trey McBride (23.8)
  • Jelani Woods (24.9)

We are hoping that the fourth tier of tight ends has multiple players who are able to inject life into the younger cycle of tight ends.

This was arguably the best objective draft class at the tight end position. All of Dalton Kincaid (25), Sam LaPorta (34), Michael Mayer (35), and Luke Musgrave (42) were selected within 17 picks of each other inside of the top 50 players this spring. You can read all of my pre-draft thoughts on those players here, which highlights how the production each had in college.

On top of their decorated production exiting college, all four of those tight ends landed in spots that give them the promise to thwart the slow-starting nature of the position. All four of them have a path to be the second-best pass catchers on their rosters, potentially even this season. None landed in a spot where there is an established WR2 on the roster.

LaPorta could have that with Jameson Williams, but by the time Williams hits the field this season, LaPorta is a good bet to have already logged more career snaps.

Pat Freiermuth has already flashed in back-to-back seasons, now we just need a complete season from him.

After a solid rookie year in which he caught 60 passes for 497 yards and seven touchdowns, Freiermuth caught 63-of-98 targets for 732 yards and two scores in his second season. Despite the lack of receiving scores (a common theme for the Steelers in 2022), Freiermuth jumped up from 8.3 yards per catch and 6.3 yards per target as a rookie up to 11.6 yards per catch and 7.5 yards per target this past season.

Freiermuth established himself as a target earner in his second season. He was targeted on 22.6% of his routes (seventh among tight ends) while averaging 1.69 yards per route run (seventh).

Both Greg Dulcich and Chig Okonkwo are looking to build off successful rookie seasons.

Okonkwo only played 37% of the offensive snaps as a rookie, but he was effective on the snaps he did play. He only played 50% or more of the snaps in two games as a rookie but posted games of 4-54-0 and 4-69-0 those weeks.

Among all tight ends in the NFL to run 100 or more pass routes last season, Okonkwo was first in yards per route run (2.63) and second in targets per route run (26.9%). We will surely see regression in those areas while counting on a tight end to average 14.1 yards per catch is something harder to sustain with actual volume.

Okonkwo also needs the Titans to play him much more in one-TE sets for that volume to occur, something his size (6’2” and 244 pounds) can limit in a run-first scheme. He was 47th in run blocking grade at PFF last season and ran just 66 pass routes in one-TE sets as a rookie. He did lead all tight ends in target rate per route (31.8%) on that small sample but is a potential thorn in preventing a true second-year breakout.

Tennessee could also outright be a wasteland for fantasy points this season while we could see Will Levis take over for a stretch of the season.

On the other hand, the Titans just do not have a lot of talent on the roster right now, especially at wide receiver. That could lead to a large run out of opportunity in his second season by default for a player that has shown upside.

While active Weeks 6-16 as a rookie, Dulcich was the TE10 in fantasy scoring and TE9 in expected points scored. He had five top-12 scoring weeks over those 10 games with three weeks lower than TE16.

From a rate perspective, there is plenty of room to build. Dulcich was 26th in target rate per route (17.5%) and 25th in yards per route run (1.30) at the position over that span.

Like Okonkwo, Dulcich’s primary potential thorn as a full-time player comes down to his involvement in one-TE sets. As a rookie, Dulcich was 83rd out of 84 qualifying tight ends as a run blocker. Denver immediately added Chris Manhertz in free agency and Sean Payton was able to trade for his draft crush Adam Trautman, two players who are block-first players.

Cole Kmet received 19.2% of the Chicago targets last season, which was fifth among all tight ends.

He also tacked on seven touchdowns after catching just two touchdowns over his first two seasons in the league.

The other side of the coin is that Kmet was targeted on just 16.2% of his routes (40th among tight ends) paired with running just 25.1 routes per game (20th).

Kmet played the second-most snaps among all NFL tight ends, but 53.9% of those snaps were spent blocking, the highest rate among tight ends we have touched on so far. With the addition of potential target-hog D.J. Moore, Kmet feels like he will be stuck as a touchdown-or-bust fantasy play, but he has far more experience at a similar age as many in this tier.

Jelani Woods was selected in the third round (73rd overall) last season, catching 25-of-40 targets for 312 yards and three touchdowns. While the counting stats were modest, Woods was targeted on 19.3% of his routes (12th among all tight ends to run 200 or more routes) while averaging 1.51 yards per route run (also 12th among that group).

Woods only played more than 60% of the snaps in two games as a rookie and more than 38% of the snaps just four times. But he flashed for 8-98-0 on nine targets in the game he played the most snaps of the season in Week 12 against the Steelers. In the other game in which he played more than 60% of the snaps, Woods caught 3-of-5 targets for 43 yards.

The addition of Anthony Richardson can prevent a full breakout due to his accuracy and top-down passing volume concerns, but Woods is an athletic demon that has been the type of siren call for fantasy gamers to swing on at the position.

Trey McBride was the first tight end selected last season, but we did not get the same type of warm feelings for potential that the other first-year players here provided.

Among all tight ends to run 100 or more pass routes, McBride was 59th in target rate per route (12.3%) and 55th in yards per route run (0.84). When Zach Ertz was absent from Week 11 through the remainder of the season, McBride was 28th out of 38 tight ends in yards per route run (1.04) and 24th in target rate per route (15.5%).

Tier 5 Tight Ends:

  • David Njoku (Age: 27.1)
  • Evan Engram (29.0)
  • Dalton Schultz (27.1)
  • Noah Fant (25.8)
  • Juwan Johnson (27.0)

The fifth tier of tight ends is a group of pass catchers that have shown us that they can have moments of competing for TE1 output while being in their twenties but have also failed to make a tier jump over their early careers into becoming viable difference makers at the position for fantasy.

In other words, this is a tier of tight ends that you will settle for if you have to, but they are unlikely to provide real answers to setting and forgetting the position.

David Njoku averaged a career-high 44.9 yards per game (eighth among tight ends) while catching a career-high 72.5% of his targets. Njoku was 13th among tight ends in target rate per route run (20.0%) and 12th in yards per route run (1.57).

Evan Engram set new career highs with 73 receptions and 766 yards. His four touchdown receptions were the most since catching six in his rookie season.

After catching 42-of-59 targets for 386 yards and two touchdowns over his first 12 games of the season, Engram collected 43-of-56 targets for 504 yards and three touchdowns over his final seven games through the postseason.

Engram still did have 11 games with 40 or fewer receiving yards last season. The team added another viable target in Calvin Ridley for immediate target competition while Jacksonville also selected a second-round tight end in Brenton Strange with Engram playing under the franchise tag this season.

Dalton Schultz is a solid baseline tight end that is reliant on volume to elevate his station in fantasy. Averaging 10.1 yards per catch for his career, Schultz did outright pace all tight ends in scoring in two weeks last season (his two games with multiple touchdowns), but he also had eight weeks as the TE20 or lower.

Leaving Dallas to join the Texans, Schultz has live odds to lead Houston in targets next season but will also have to produce playing with a rookie quarterback. There have been just nine TE1 scoring seasons attached to a first-round rookie passer (out of 64 instances), but one did come last season via Pat Freiermuth to keep the lights on.

After catching just 17 passes for 198 yards and four touchdowns over his first two years in the league, Juwan Johnson caught 42-of-65 targets for 508 yards and seven touchdowns last year. He was rewarded with a two-year contract this spring.

Johnson played just 39.8% of his snaps at inline tight end with one tight end on the field last season, but he ran a route on 65.3% of the New Orleans dropbacks in one-TE sets, which was 12th at the position.

A converted receiver, Johnson is not far off from the archetype of Darren Waller, who broke out with Derek Carr (albeit with far less target competition).

Noah Fant led the Seattle tight end group, catching 50-of-63 targets for 486 yards and four touchdowns. His 2.9 receptions per game were his fewest since his rookie season while his 28.6 yards per game were the fewest he has averaged over his four years in the NFL.

Fant appears to be capped this season by the Seattle offense and the selection of Jaxon Smith-Njigba, but he is playing this season in his fifth-year option and will be an unrestricted free agent afterward.

Tier 6 Tight Ends:

  • Isaiah Likely (Age: 23.4)
  • Irv Smith Jr. (25.1)
  • Cade Otton (24.4)
  • Tucker Kraft (22.8)
  • Noah Gray (24.3)
  • Albert Okwuegbunam (25.4)
  • Daniel Bellinger (22.9)

We are now largely into the section of the tight end position built on hope. That said, hope exists for this group in either limited performance thus far or measurables. With tight end being a position notorious for slow starters, the lights are still on here for these mid-20s options.

Isaiah Likely and Tucker Kraft are just unfortunately limited being stuck behind other options at the position. Kraft could outright push Luke Musgrave since both are rookies and he was selected just a round later.

The same goes for Noah Gray still waiting on Travis Kelce to clear a path for opportunities while Daniel Bellinger has just had his feet taken out by the addition of Darren Waller.

Irv Smith has yet to do anything noteworthy, but he will still only be 25 years old at the start of the season and now has an attachment to Joe Burrow. With Cincinnati failing to add any other substance to the position this offseason, what has been dead cannot die.

Albert Okwuegbunam has next to zero odds of providing anything tangible for the 2023 season, but he will be a free agent after the season. He still has the athletic profile someone will take a chance on and could end up in a similar situation that Irv Smith ran into this offseason where there is a sliver of a chance that a new environment sparks opportunities.

Tier 7 Tight Ends:

  • Hunter Henry (Age: 28.7)
  • Mike Gesicki (27.9)
  • Tyler Higbee (30.7)
  • Gerald Everett (29.2)
  • Tyler Conklin (28.1)
  • Zach Ertz (32.8)
  • Taysom Hill (33.0)
  • Hayden Hurst (30.0)
  • Austin Hooper (28.8)
  • Logan Thomas (32.2)

Our veteran tier of back-end options at the position. It is possible that any of these guys could run into a lower-end TE1 campaign, but these are players that are handled as part of a streaming platoon at this stage.

If you are in a win-now window, scrambling at the position, and do not want to sell off major future draft capital, Tyler Conklin and Tyler Higbee are players that should interest you.

Conklin is one of just 11 tight ends to have more than 500 receiving yards in each of the past two seasons. Adding Aaron Rodgers gives him more efficient targets than a year ago when 17.2% of Conklin’s targets were deemed inaccurate, the highest rate among all tight ends to have as many targets as Conklin did on the season.

Higbee will be 30 years old with just one season of scoring more than three touchdowns (with a career-high of five), but the Rams have no real depth at wide receiver, either, leaving Higbee set up to be a floor-based PPR option. Higbee is just set once again to have an open road to volume with what we are hoping is a healthy version of Matthew Stafford. He set career highs in targets (108) and receptions (72) in 2022.

Tier 8 Tight Ends:

  • Jake Ferguson (Age: 24.6)
  • Brenton Strange (22.7)
  • Brevin Jordan (23.1)
  • Darnell Washington (22.0)
  • Kylen Granson (25.4)
  • Luke Schoonmaker (24.9)
  • Hunter Long (25.0)
  • Donald Parham (26.0)
  • Charlie Kolar (24.6)

Bringing things home in dart-throw territory.

The standouts here from my lane are Brenton Strange and both of the Dallas tight ends, but I do prefer Jake Ferguson as a pass catcher versus Luke Schoonmaker. Dak Prescott has consistently given life to tight ends for fantasy.

Strange is another Penn State athlete (88th percentile) that was limited in the box score through anemic quarterback play. Jacksonville used tangible draft capital (61st overall) on him this spring while Evan Engram could be off of the team in 2024 playing on the franchise tag this season.

I also had an affinity for Hunter Long as a prospect and he was buried and injured in Miami. So, with the Rams adding him to the Jalen Ramsey trade and their pass-catching corps being fluid at best right now outside of Cooper Kupp, I will nibble on deep rosters.


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