The tight end position has changed in fantasy football as the game of football as a whole has progressed.
Heading into 2022, it's not uncommon to see a top-tier NFL tight end like Travis Kelce get drafted in the back-end of the first round or at the beginning of the second round of any fantasy football draft. That bump in pre-draft rankings is backed up by the fact that in PPR leagues, Kelce has averaged over 15.6 fantasy points per game since 2017.
However, what hasn't changed is the tight end landscape.
If you're unable to get a top guy in your drafts through the first five rounds or so, you should immediately just punt on the position and hope to win the streaming battle or find a diamond in the rough that could be a top-10 guy.
With that, identifying studs and duds can prove difficult, so here, we have three studs and a dud for you.
Stud: Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys
ADP: TE7; Draft Position: 6.06
At first, the TE7 ADP was a bit surprising, but it made some sense after you factor in guys like Kelce, Mark Andrews on the Baltimore Ravens, George Kittle on the San Francisco 49ers, Kyle Pitts on the Atlanta Falcons, and Darren Waller on the Las Vegas Raiders. However, Schultz will beat out most of those guys and be a top-three tight end.
Without wide receiver Amari Cooper on the roster, Schultz, in addition to wide receiver CeeDee Lamb, should have excellent seasons at their respective positions.
In 2021, Schultz finished as the TE3, with only Kelce and Andrew topping him. Schultz also saw over 100 targets in 2021, and without Cooper, there's no reason that doesn't continue, which will elevate him to a top-five finish at the worst.
Draft Schultz with confidence.
Stud: Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears
ADP: TE13; Draft Position: 12.01
If you miss out on the top five or six tight ends, Kmet is an excellent option in the 12th round to at least be your starter the first week or so. The Bears have quarterback Justin Fields heading into his second season, and they did absolutely nothing to help him offensively. Sorry, but Velus Jones Jr. isn't solving the problems.
The offensive line should be a wreck again this season, too, but Kmet presents an easy outlet for Fields during his scrambles. Seeing 93 targets last year, Kmet caught 60 balls for 612 yards and no touchdowns. If you add a measly four touchdowns to that line, Kmet goes from the TE20 to right around T.J. Hockenson's finish as TE15.
In his third year with the Bears, his second with Fields, and an entire offseason with Fields as the guy, Kmet will be the team's No. 1 receiving option. A top-10 finish isn't out of the question at all, especially if those touchdowns can ramp up. If Fields and Kmet can find red zone success, they'll both be prime for breakout seasons.
Stud: Noah Fant, Seattle Seahawks
ADP: TE26; Draft Position: 14.07
The Seahawks aren't going to be remotely competitive in 2022, but Fant as the TE26 seems like too much of an overreaction. Fant came over in the Broncos trade along with Drew Lock and is the team's starter this season.
The Seahawks still have wide receivers, D.K. Metcalf and Tyler Lockett, but Fant will be a reliable option over the middle of the field who can also move like a wide receiver to an extent. The TE26 had a point total of less than 77 last season, which is borderline nothing.
If Fant is your Week 1 starter, you should be ready to pivot and move on, but he should be in the top 12 conversations at tight end by the end of the season. Heck, you could draft Fant and Kmet toward the end of the draft and see how things shake out.
Dud: T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions
ADP: TE6; Draft Position: 6.03
When we label Hockenson as a dud, this isn't to say he'll be the TE15 again this year. Remember, Hockenson missed five games last year after playing in 12, so his stats throughout the season would've given him a high fantasy finish.
However, the team is building up around him, including another season of Amon-Ra St. Brown. You know Dan Campbell and the Detroit Lions want to run the ball, using D'Andre Swift and Jamaal Williams. This isn't to say his TE6 ADP right now is terrible, but there's so much talent with the top five or six guys that the value here is minimal.
If you draft Hockenson, you'll get a solid player. Still, you're not going to beat any value expectations, meaning Hockenson could be the TE6. It's more likely he finishes worse than finishes better.
- Stud: Zach Ertz, Arizona Cardinals
- Dud: Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles
- Stud: Robert Tonyan, Green Bay Packers
- Dud: Hunter Henry, New England Patriots
- Stud: Pat Freiermuth Pittsburgh Steelers
- Dud: Kyle Rudolph, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Statistics are courtesy of Pro Football Reference and FantasyPros
ADP data is courtesy of Fantasy Football Calculator.
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