Carolina Panthers: Hayden Hurst
Hurst was paid and should get a real opportunity in Frank Reich’s tight end-friendly offense in Carolina. While the narrative of rookie quarterbacks targeting tight ends is more of a myth, Bryce Young appears like a perfect fit for Hurst. The Panthers also have one of the thinnest WR groups in the league.
With Dalton Schultz in Houston and rookie Luke Schoonmaker slowed by a foot injury, Ferguson should be Dallas’ TE1 this season. It’s a role that helped Schultz finish as a top-12 fantasy tight end last year, and contrary to popular belief, the Cowboys might be more pass-heavy with Mike McCarthy calling plays. Ferguson ranked top-five among tight ends in YPRR and missed tackles forced as a rookie and enters 2023 as a strong late-round TE flier.
I won’t step on Andy Behrens’ toes here, but LaPorta can break tackles and should immediately be a part of a strong Detroit offense with a ton of vacated targets. Tight end is typically the slowest transition for rookies, but he was already seeing first-team snaps even before Shane Zylstra suffered a season-ending injury.
Musgrave is looking at immediate targets as Green Bay’s TE1 on a Packers team with a young (and possibly thin) receiving group as well. Musgrave is highly athletic and has reportedly been one of the fastest players in Packers camp. The rookie is developing a great rapport with new QB Jordan Love and goes undrafted in many fantasy leagues.
Parham is finally healthy and could become a big part of Kellen Moore’s new offense in Los Angeles. Gerald Everett remains in LA, but Parham looks like the team’s future tight end moving forward. With a healthy Justin Herbert throwing to him, Parham is going to be a popular fantasy add at some point in 2023.
Higbee will be LA’s No. 2 option in the passing game (and he could be even more active until Cooper Kupp gets back to full strength). He quietly saw strong usage before offensive line injuries hit last year, and he plays indoors with a much healthier Matthew Stafford.
New England Patriots: Hunter Henry
While New England’s receivers figure to be in a frustrating rotation for fantasy managers this year, Henry has been a camp standout. The Patriots' offense should be far improved with a new coordinator this season too. Mike Gesicki has been dealing with a dislocated shoulder, putting his Week 1 availability in question.
Tennessee Titans: Chigoziem Okonkwo
Okonkwo led all tight ends in yards per route run and was second in targets per route run last season. It should be noted these are small samples, and head coach Mike Vrabel recently stated that Okonkwo needs to block better. Playing time is not guaranteed. The addition of DeAndre Hopkins also lowers his target ceiling.
That said, it’s clear Ryan Tannehill is expected to start throughout 2023 (in fact, Malik Willis might be ahead of Will Levis on Tennessee's depth chart). Moreover, Treylon Burks has been dealing with a sprained LCL, so Chig could be looking at increased opportunities early in the season.