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Boom or Bust Report: Tight Ends (2022 Fantasy Football)

Aug 25, 2022
Travis Kelce

Travis Kelce’s 73% TE1 finish rate from 2021 ranked No. 1 at the position.

One of the best and underutilized tools on the FantasyPros website is the Boom or Bust Report. I was recently re-introduced to the tool while conducting research for the launch of the 2022 FantasyPros Draft Kit.

Beyond our fantasy football content, be sure to check out our award-winning slate of Fantasy Football Tools as you prepare for your draft this season. From our free mock Draft Simulator – which allows you to mock draft against realistic opponents – to our Draft Assistant – that optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football draft season.

Fantasy Football Redraft Draft Kit

It’s an invaluable tool for regular 2022 redraft fantasy football leagues and a topic that was covered in great depth by the late Mike Tagliere in his terrific “Boom, Bust, and Everything In Between” series.

The focus will be leveraging this terrific report to identify the players with the most spiked week potential and provide context behind players’ up-and-down performances from 2021.

And as a reminder for this report and the ones to follow for each position — the boom/bust thresholds on the Boom or Bust Report are calculated based on the weekly averages from that year.

For QBs and TEs, a boom week is when the player was at or above the average weekly QB3/TE3 points total. For RBs/WRs, it’s the RB6/WR6 points total.

For QBs and TEs, a bust week is when the player was at or below the average weekly QB18/TE18 points total. For RBs and WRs, it’s the RB40/WR56.

Tight Ends

Initial Quick Takeaways (Full-Point Per Reception Scoring)

  • Travis Kelce‘s 73% TE1 finish rate from 2021 ranked No. 1 at the position. With Tyreek Hill gone, his target floor is threatening the ceiling.
  • 19 different tight ends posted at least one top-3 fantasy finish last season. The number in 2020 was 22. The number in 2019 was 23.
  • List of tight ends that played all 16 games last season and busted on fewer than 25% of them:
  • Schultz is drafted numerous rounds after the other elite tight ends like Kelce, Andrews, George Kittle and Darren Waller – even though his ceiling from last season is closer to the elite with a top-five boom rate (three top-3 finishes, 19%).

  • Since 2019, only two tight ends each year have finished as a top-6 tight end in 50% or more of their games. Kelce has done it for all those seasons. Andrews, Waller and Kittle have accomplished the feat once in the past three seasons. Kittle nor Waller was able to repeat their efforts the following season. Just another reason to be skeptical about Andrews returning Round 2 ADP.
  • Waller’s top-3 boom rate was just 10% in 2021 – the lowest among any TE with a current top-nine ADP. It was a massive drop-off from his 31% boom rate the year prior and much closer to his 2019 rate (13%). Even with positive touchdown regression on Waller’s side, he might struggle to post top-3 weekly numbers while battling for targets with Hunter Renfrow and Davante Adams. The year Robert Tonyan caught 11 TDs playing alongside Adams (2020), the Packers’ tight end finished with a meager 6% boom rate.
  • Waller’s top-6 finisher rate in the past three seasons: 31%, 56%, and 40%. Current TE5 ADP.
  • Rob Gronkowski’s 27% boom rate tied Kelce for No. 1 in the league in 2021.
  • T.J. Hockenson‘s 42% top-6 finisher rate last season ranked fifth last season ahead of Waller and Schultz. It was also a massive upgrade from his 2020 season (25%). He’s going later in drafts than he was last draft season. And his boom-bust and everything between profile looks eerily similar to Andrews’ production before the start of last season. 
  • Kyle Pitts finished 14th in the top-6 finisher rate last season (19%).
  • Zach Ertz finished as a top-12 tight end eight times last season. Seven came in the 10 games he played with the Cardinals (70%). That hit rate would have ranked third last season.
  • Dallas Goedert posted four top-6 TE finishes after Ertz was traded (40%). That hit rate would have ranked sixth. The Eagles’ tight end had just one game of that level before the trade (16%).
  • Mike Gesicki finished as a TE1 the same number of times as former Chargers tight end Jared Cook (five).
  • New Chargers tight end Gerald Everett also finished as a TE1 five times despite playing on one of the heaviest run offenses in the NFL last season. The Chargers finished third in passing attempts per game in 2021.
  • 10 tight ends finished as TE1 at a 50% or higher clip last season. Logan Thomas (60%), Noah Fant (47%) and Pat Freiermuth (43%) round out the next TEs with the highest rates not being drafted inside the top 10.

  • Dawson Knox (43%) is being drafted as TE10 despite finishing top-12 in fewer than half of his games played. Pitts is being drafted as the TE3 after finishing as a TE in 38% of his games last season, the same as fellow rookie tight end Brevin Jordan.
  • C.J. Uzomah was easily the most boom-or-bust tight end last season. The only player at his position to bust in 10-plus games while also finishing as a top-3 option in two separate weeks.
  • By nature of the offensive environment, I’d feel pretty strong about Hayden Hurst delivering at least that in 2022, if not more, based on his better receiving profile and fantasy resumé that features a top-10 finish.
  • List of tight ends being drafted outside the top-12 that posted two top-6 finishes last season:
  • Irv Smith  has so much upside in the Vikings’ passing attack based on Conklin’s high ceiling weeks. Not to mention ISJ himself has shown the exact ceiling, with two top-6 finishes for Minnesota in 2020.
  • Tyler Higbee is the ultimate floor play. His 29% bust rate ranked eighth-lowest last season. It just goes to show that when you are on the field for all the snaps as a TE in above-average offenses, your fantasy floor increases substantially. But the ceiling remains low because Higbee’s buried in the target pecking order and can’t command targets at a high rate.
  • Hunter Henry – buyer beware. His 47% bust rate was higher than his top-12 finisher rate (40%). Easy fade because his ADP is tied to his TD production from a year ago.
  • As the Broncos starting tight end, Fant posted nearly identical spike and bust rates as Dallas Goedert. That bodes well for Albert Okwuegbunam to have massive weeks, but not at any consistent pacing. Factor in his bizarre preseason usage — playing with backups into the fourth quarter — I’m not comfortable with him as Week 1 starting fantasy tight end. 
  • Fant and Uzomah are the only two TEs being drafted outside the top-18 TEs and 150 overall players to post two top-3 finishes last season. Every other TE that meets that threshold is ranked as a top-nine TE.

  • Fant also finished as a TE1 in 47% of his games last season (11th). His ADP is TE21 outside the top-150 overall picks.
  • List of tight ends that are being drafted inside the top-12 that failed to finish in that range in more than 50% of their games played: Kyle Pitts (38%), Dawson Knox (43%), Pat Freiermuth (47%) and Mike Gesicki (31%). These are the most likely candidates to be over-drafted and not deliver on ADP expectations.
  • Highest bust rates among TEs in the top 12: Freiermuth, Goedert and Kittle
  • Lowest bust rates among TEs in the top-12: Andrews, Waller, Hockenson and Schultz.

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Top-10 Takeaways

  1. Schultz is an elite fantasy tight end disguised as a middle-round tight end. He has superior ADP value to Waller and Kittle that has narrowed since early summer. You want the No. 2 pass-catcher on a high-powered, pass-heavy Dallas Cowboys offense. 
    • The same case can be made for Hockenson. When you average out the TE3-7 it creates an average 16% boom rate, 36% top-6 finisher rate and 60% TE1 rate. Simply put, either Schultz and Hockenson should be drafted closer to Kittle/Waller or those players are being drafted much earlier than they should be.

      PLAYER TE ADP Overall ADP BOOM TOP 6 TOP 12
      Travis Kelce 1 13 27% 60% 73%
      Mark Andrews 2 25 25% 63% 75%
      Kyle Pitts 3 33 13% 19% 38%
      Darren Waller 4 48 10% 40% 70%
      George Kittle 5 43 23% 46% 62%
      Dalton Schultz 6 58 19% 31% 63%
      T.J. Hockenson 7 67 17% 42% 67%
      Average TE3-TE7 16% 36% 60%
      Average TE4-TE7 17% 40% 66%
  2. Stop chasing Andrews’ production from last season in round two. Luckily his ADP has dipped so that he can be drafted early Round 3 where he is a much better value.
  3. Ertz: The ultimate late-round tight end. 70% TE1 hit rate with Arizona last season. Although just one top-6 finish, so he’s not likely the league-altering tight end.
  4. Goedert still has an extremely high weekly upside, but a crowded Eagles receiving room will make him a headache to own with up-and-down outings. 
  5. Shook by this stat: Rookie Brevin Jordan finished as a fantasy TE1 at the same rate as Kyle Pitts last season. Jordan remains one of my favorite late-round sleeper tight ends. Preseason usage with him playing on the majority of passing downs is also very encouraging. 
  6. Fade Cameron Brate. With reports already circulating that Cade Otton will take on a larger role for the Buccaneers in addition to the Kyle Rudolph addition, Brate is hands-off. In 15 games played last season, he busted in 13. He had one week as a top-12 TE after finishing Week 16 as the TE12.
  7. Just draft Hurst instead, who benefits from playing in an elite passing attack and somehow busted less than Brate did a season ago.
  8. Buy Mo Alie-Cox in the last rounds drafts as the clear-cut Colts TE1. He busted a ton last season (13 times) but did flash two top-12 finishes. Former Colts tight end Jack Doyle (retired) also posted two top-12 tight end finishes to go along with 11 busts. At TE41 ADP, he’s been totally forgotten.
  9. Keep drafting Kmet. His former teammate Jimmy Graham posted a higher TE1 finish rate (20% vs. 19%) than him in 2021. He is not on the roster anymore.
  10. Fant might be the safest bet on the Seattle Seahawks. He was a fantasy TE1 all last season with horrible QB play on the Broncos. But don’t feel obligated to overinvest in anyone in the Seahawks offense that might just be a dumpster fire in 2022. 
  11. An extra one for Logan Thomas, who has been activated off the PUP list. People have completely written off the Commanders’ tight end, despite him having already been a proven fantasy TE1. Thomas was a top-10 tight end in points per game during his five healthy starts in 2021 and is just one year removed from a TE4 overall finish. He figures to be back in the starting role after signing an extension last season. I’d buy low on him across the board coming off his injury-plagued season, which limited him to just five full games. The Washington tight end role features a 90%-plus route run per dropback rate, which is extremely rare to find among NFL offenses.

Other Insights

I’ll continue to pound the table for my favorite tight end strategy. Stay out of the middle at the position. Outside the top-90 picks, there’s a stark fall in weekly upside for TEs. Current tight ends being drafted between TE1-TE7 – top-75 picks – averaged a 19% boom rate, 43% top-6 finisher rate and 64% TE1 rate. Especially in deeper formats where the waiver wire is less helpful, it makes sense to lock in one of these players if possible. Although I still like Goedert and Ertz specifically in certain builds for reasons I have already laid out.

The next group TE8-TE12 – outside top-90 picks – averaged a 9% boom rate, 21% top-6 finisher rate and 45% TE1 rate. Meanwhile, the late-round TE tier – TEs 13-22, outside the top 125 picks overall – averaged a 3% boom rate, 10% top-6 finisher rate and 33% TE1 rate.

The chances of a TE going outside the top-8 becoming elite (top-5) doesn’t happen very often. In most circumstances, those players just hit backend fantasy TE1 status. Drafting TE8-12 will just end in those players meeting the expectations of their preseason ADP. But if all you are looking for is backend fantasy TE1 production, wait until the double-digit rounds for tight ends that can also achieve that at a decent rate – at a fraction of the price.

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