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6 Tight Ends Ready to Jump a Tier (2022 Fantasy Football)

Jul 1, 2022
Dalton Schultz

Let’s take a look at 6 tight ends that are ready to jump a tier compared to their current fantasy football rankings.

Rankings noted using FantasyPros half-PPR Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) and Consensus ADP.

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6 Tight Ends Ready to Jump a Tier

T.J. Hockenson (DET)
ADP TE6 | ECR TE7

T.J. Hockenson‘s season cut short by injuries has left a bitter taste in fantasy football managers’ mouths. But the hate is unwarranted, as Hockenson was well on his way to a career year with the Lions. Through 13 weeks, the Detriot Lions tight end ranked sixth in points per game, fifth in targets per game (7), first in route participation (85%), third in target share (19%) and third in air yard share.

Averaging over one more fantasy point from the year prior, Hockenson fits the mold as a post-hype sleeper after he failed to truly break out in 2021.

Dalton Schultz (DAL)
ADP TE7 | ECR TE6

Coming off a stellar season as PFF’s sixth-highest-graded tight end (78.2), Dallas placed the franchise tag on Dalton Schultz off the career season and released veteran Blake Jarwin.

Big D’s No. 1 tight end wrapped up the 2021 season sixth in route participation (77%) and third in overall routes run (586). The highly-coveted role within the constrains of a high-powered offense ensures that Schultz will be in the back-end fantasy TE1 conversation for the third straight season.

Only Darren Waller, Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews have scored more fantasy points at the tight end position since the start of 2020.

With Dak Prescott‘s trust firmly in hand and Amari Cooper out the door, it’s possible that Schultz builds off his ninth-ranked 16% target share entering Year 5.

Irv Smith Jr. (MIN)
ADP TE19 | ECR TE20

Assuming Irv Smith is at full health to start the season, he could compete with Adam Thielen as the second target in Minnesota behind Justin Jefferson. Let’s not forget that Smith was eighth in yards per target and second in QBR when targeted among tight ends in 2020. The Vikings surprised everyone by ranking 12th in neutral passing rate and eighth in neutral pace last year. If that repeats, the volume will be there for Smith. As an unrestricted free agent in 2023, Smith should be heavily motivated to post career-best numbers.

Cole Kmet (CHI)
ADP TE15 | ECR TE13

No tight end should make a bigger leap in 2022 than the third-year tight end, whose upside has been capped by a lack of touchdown equity with veteran Jimmy Graham rearing his ugly head the past few seasons. But Graham’s currently a free agent, opening the door for Kmet to smash in 2022.

Kmet’s eighth-ranked route participation and seventh-ranked target share (17%) from 2021 hardly aligns with his fantasy production – no tight end finished with more fantasy points under expectation (-36.6) than the Notre Dame product in 2021.

That designation is a sign Kmet is due for a fantasy breakout. It signaled as much for guys like Zach Ertz and Dawson Knox, who scored fewer points than expected in 2020 before contributing in fantasy this year. Both tight ends finished 2021 as top-10 options at the position in fantasy points per game.

The Chicago Bears hired offensive coordinator Luke Getsy to pair with second-year quarterback Justin Fields. Getsy should be able to build an offense more conducive to Fields’ mobility – something he had success with at Mississippi State as its former OC.

An overall offensive boost should help fuel Kmet as 2022’s breakout tight end. He has the requisite size and athleticism, sporting an 87th-percentile height, 88th-percentile vertical jump, and 89th-percentile broad jump.

Kmet checks off all the boxes for a tight end breakout.

Gerald Everett (SEA)
ADP TE23 | ECR TE19

Gerald Everett was solid during stretches of the 2021 season, particularly after Russell Wilson returned from injury. The ex-Rams tight end ranked as the TE9 in fantasy points per game (PPR) from Weeks 10-16 while running a route on 74% of dropbacks.

Everett proved he can be a featured No. 1 tight end for the Chargers coming off a career year. He achieved career-highs in receptions (48) and receiving yards (478) and wreaked havoc with the ball in his hands, forcing 11 missed tackles after the catch – sixth-most among tight ends.

His peripheral metrics in Seattle’s offense – 12% target share, 63% route participation, and 17% target rate per route run – were nearly identical to Jared Cook on the Chargers’ offense last season.

Cook finished as TE16 overall which seems like Everett’s fantasy floor heading into 2022. The tackle-breaking tight end finished the 2021 season just .4 points per game short of Cook’s average (8.3 versus 7.9) despite playing in an offense that ranked dead last in pass attempts per game (29.1).

L.A. ranked third in that category last season (39.6).

Breakout tight ends are generally athletic players who earn above-average route participation in high-powered offenses. Everett fits the profile of next season’s star at the position.

Albert Okwuegbunam (DEN)
ADP TE18 | ECR TE22

Albert Okwuegbunam tied for the third-highest target rate per route run in the NFL last season (23%). Now entrenched as the presumed full-time starter with Noah Fant traded to the Seattle Seahawks this offseason, the uber-athletic tight end can break out in Year 3.

It bodes well in Albert O’s favor that Noah Fant finished last season as the TE12 while the duo played in 14 games together.

FantasyPros Staff Consensus 2022 Redraft Fantasy Football Rankings

2022 Fantasy Football Rankings powered by FantasyPros

 

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