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2023 Fantasy Football TE position preview: Should you invest early or wait it out?

The Yahoo fantasy football crew is breaking down every position to get drafters confident to tackle each and every one of them when they're on the clock. Here, our very own Scott Pianowski examines the tight end landscape.

2023 Fantasy Football Position Previews: QB | RB | WR | TE

My Top 15 Tight End Rankings (consensus)

  1. Travis Kelce

  2. Mark Andrews

  3. T.J. Hockenson

  4. George Kittle

  5. Dallas Goedert

  6. Kyle Pitts

  7. Pat Freiermuth

  8. Evan Engram

  9. David Njoku

  10. Darren Waller

  11. Tyler Higbee

  12. Chigoziem Okonkwo

  13. Cole Kmet

  14. Dalton Schultz

  15. Gerald Everett

Should you go vanity tight end or try to find a hit later? Kelce dominated this position last season and his last seven finishes read like a misprint: TE1, TE2, TE1, TE1, TE1, TE2, TE1. But he's also entering his age-34 season, and he requires a first-round pick. Given that I want a wide receiver room that starts itself — especially in formats that require three wideouts — I will regretfully pass on Kelce in most of my pools.

Perhaps Andrews is an arbitrage Kelce — his Yahoo ADP is about 25 picks after Kelce, and there are exciting things in that Baltimore offense. Your Andrews stance likely comes down to how good you feel about the retooled Baltimore receiver room. I still think Andrews is an overwhelming favorite to lead the Ravens in touchdown catches.

No matter where I draft my starting tight end, I'm trying to find players that figure to be their team's primary or secondary target source and/or could plausibly lead their team in touchdown catches. If you can't check either of those boxes, the upside isn't great enough. There are plenty of floor plays later in the queue, but that's not what we're chasing. The second half of your draft (assuming we're talking about a managed league) is a chase at some ceiling. Save the boring floor picks for your best ball portfolio.

Top Tight End Targets

Mark Andrews, Ravens

As discussed above, I expect Andrews to be the target hog when the Ravens are in the red area. Lamar Jackson is probably looking at a comeback campaign, especially under the creative scheming of new OC Todd Monken. An Andrews build won't fit every league I'm in — if I'm drafting against high-level competition and my roster requires three starting wideouts, I'll likely pass on Andrews and try to find a steady-if-unspectacular tight end later. But in leagues with simpler starting requirements, getting Andrews becomes more of a priority.

Dallas Goedert, Eagles

This pick might seem a little sideways, given that Goedert has to compete with A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith for targets, and Jalen Hurts is also likely to rush for a bunch of touchdowns. But I still view Goedert and Hurts as talents on the escalator — players who haven't had their peak season yet — and I can't unsee that the Eagles have a 123.1 rating when they target Goedert over the last two seasons. There's a possible spike season here, and an ADP in the mid-50s sounds reasonable.

Tyler Higbee, Rams

Quick, name a Rams receiver after Cooper Kupp on the current roster. Even if you passed that test, I dare you to name a non-Kupp receiver you'd actually want to draft. Higbee is coming off a career high for targets and catches (108 and 72, respectively), and I could see him sailing past those numbers as the Rams struggle to find a second pitch on the perimeter. Early drafts are giving you a cheap Higbee ticket, with an ADP around 130.

Top Tight End Fades

George Kittle, 49ers

This represents the gap between real-life and fantasy value for me, as Kittle might be my favorite player in the current NFL. But he's a willing and devastating blocker, something the Niners will take full advantage of, and he could easily finish fourth on this stacked team in targets. Kittle's all-out style often comes at a price, as he's missed 15 games in the last four years.

Kyle Pitts, Falcons

There's no denying his raw ability, and he doesn't turn 23 until October. But Arthur Smith is a head coach who likes to run to set up the run, and he hasn't shown the ability to unlock Pitts around the red area in two seasons (just three touchdowns over 27 games). And even if Desmond Ridder proves an upgrade over Matt Ryan and Marcus Mariota, the Falcons are unlikely to get anything better than league-average quarterback play. I refuse to think every scout was wrong about Pitts two years ago, but he's not in an ideal position to succeed.

Darren Waller, Giants

The last two seasons have been injury messes for Waller, and now he steps into his age-31 season. Brian Daboll is a shrewd head coach and the best play callers usually work talent to scheme, not the other way around, but it's interesting to note that Daboll offenses have never featured the tight end. Waller had a touchdown spike in his Pro Bowl 2020 season, but otherwise he hasn't been much in the red area, with just eight scores over 36 games. Mostly, this is a bet against career arc and a change of teams.