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Late-Round Tight Ends with Top-Five Potential (2023 Fantasy Football)

by Scott Youngson | @jscottyoungson | Featured Writer
Feb 21, 2023
TE2s with Top-Five Potential (2023 Fantasy Football)

The Tight End position was top-heavy again in 2022. Unless you drafted Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, George Kittle or T.J. Hockenson, your fingers were crossed every week. Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert were also productive, but each missed a significant number of weeks due to injury.

If the big names go off the board before you’re ready to draft them in 2023, you may be better off waiting than grabbing the “next best bets.” Last season, following the stars listed above, 14 TEs averaged between 6.0 and 8.3 PPG (Half-Point PPR, minimum 20 receptions). Below are four of these 14 players who rank outside the top ten in our early 2023 Expert Consensus Rankings (ECR) and have the upside to be a Top-Five TE in 2023.

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TE2’s with Top-Five Potential (2023)

If you end up waiting on the position in drafts this summer, these players have the potential to pay off big.

Cole Kmet (TE – CHI)

Kmet was a Top-Ten fantasy Tight End in 2022, but he’s ranked just outside TE1 territory at this point of the offseason. Kmet is hard to trust as he did most of his damage last season in two games – Weeks 9 and 10. Many expected his targets would go up in 2022 with the departure of Allen Robinson, but they actually dropped from 93 in 2021 to 69. The good news is that his target share was still a solid 19.4%, and he scored seven TDs after being shut out of the endzone in 2021.

So why the optimism? For starters, the Bears only attempted 377 passes in 2022, the fewest in the league. Even so, QB Justin Fields took a step forward last season, increasing his completion percentage, TD percentage and passer rating. If Fields continues to improve and Kmet maintains a healthy target share, especially in the red zone, the latter could shoot up the fantasy rankings. He finished as TE7 last season (16th in points-per-game), so any improvement in the Bears’ passing game in 2023 would boost his value.

Greg Dulcich (TE – DEN) 

From Week 6, when he debuted in 2022, through Week 16, his last game of the season, Dulcich was the tenth-best fantasy tight end. His production wasn’t spectacular, and he only caught two TDs, but it was a solid and promising debut for the rookie. It’s no secret that the Bronco’s offense was a mess last year, which brings even more hope to Dulcich’s future prospects.

Most important, though, is Denver’s coaching change. Sean Payton is one of the most innovative offensive coaches in the history of the NFL, and he’s had much success with tight ends in the past. He turned Jimmy Graham into a star and got TE1 seasons out of Benjamin Watson in 2015 and Jared Cook  in 2019. Payton maximizes the talent of his players and could do wonders for Dulcich and the Broncos’ offense as a whole.

Gerald Everett (TE – LAC)

Everett was eighth in the NFL in targets among tight ends last season but only scored four TDs. If he had caught one more TD in 2022, he would have been a TE1. New Chargers’ OC Kellen Moore comes from Dallas, where tight ends are heavily utilized in the passing game. In addition, many rumors are circulating that Keenan Allen could be cut this offseason, which would open up a ton of targets for other pass-catchers. From Week 10, when he was finally healthy, through the Chargers’ playoff loss to the Jaguars, Allen averaged 10.7 targets per game.

Everett doesn’t have the ceiling of the younger Kmet and Dulcich, but his floor is higher. He plays on a good offense with a great QB in a system that should be TE-friendly. He could prove a draft-day steal if all breaks right for him next season.

Tyler Higbee (TE – LAR)

Higbee was fourth in targets and fifth in receptions among tight ends last season but only scored three TDs. He was off to a great start as the seventh-best fantasy TE through Week 5; however, as the season wore on and the Rams’ injuries continued to mount, his production waned. Higbee did post a few strong games down the stretch, including a monster nine-catch, 94-yard, two-TD performance against Denver in Week 16, but L.A.’s season was pretty much over by Week 12. Despite this, Higbee still finished with the ninth most fantasy points at his position.

The Ram’s offense should be better in 2023. Sean McVay is too good a coach, and there’s too much talent on offense for the team to struggle as much as they did in 2022. Matthew Stafford has confidence in Higbee, who should generate a substantial target share again. If he can find the endzone five or six times next season, he could vault up into the Top Five.

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 – which optimizes your picks with expert advice – we’ve got you covered this fantasy football draft season.

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