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Dynasty Startup Draft Primer: Tight End Strategy, Rankings & Tiers (2023 Fantasy Football)

Dynasty Startup Draft Primer: Tight End Strategy, Rankings & Tiers (2023 Fantasy Football)

Your approach to the TE position in dynasty startup drafts should be consistent with your overall draft strategy. Is your focus short-term or longer-term? Let your answer to that question guide you when shopping for tight ends.

More on that in a moment. But first, an important caveat: If you’re playing in a league with TE-premium scoring, you might want to place heavier emphasis on the position.

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In the TE-premium format, tight ends are awarded more points per reception than players at other position. If RBs and WRs get 1 point per reception, TEs might get 1.5. If RBs and WRs get 0.5 per reception, TEs might get 1.0.

With the greater rewards for tight ends in the TE-premium format, there are two approaches you can take:

  1. Attack the TE position aggressively. With the greater rewards for tight ends, strength at the position is handsomely rewarded, incentivizing you to acquire a top tight end in the early rounds.
  2. Cut corners at the TE position. “But why would you want to cut corners at tight end when TE scoring is more heavily weighted?” Well, since tight ends come off the board earlier in TE-premium startups, that means good players at other positions are available later in the draft than they would be otherwise. You can scoop up value at other positions, and if you can figure out a way to get adequate TE production on the cheap, you’ll be well ahead of the game.

OK, back to TE strategy for leagues with conventional scoring for tight ends …

Dynasty Startup Strategy, Rankings & Tiers: Tight Ends

As mentioned earlier, your overall draft strategy should guide your tactics for addressing the TE position. Before you start drafting in a dynasty startup, you need to chart a course and then build a coherent draft strategy around it.

Charting a course means deciding when you expect your team to establish its dynastic reign over the league. Here are the three primary options:

Dynasty Startup Draft Strategy

  • Win now: Establish your dominance immediately. While your competitors focus on youth in the startup draft, scoop up proven veterans at discounted prices and build a roster that will be a favorite for the league title in Year 1.
  • If you adopt a win-now strategy, going after a top veteran makes sense. One obvious target is Travis Kelce, the undisputed king of the position. Kelce is still a prime target for managers in dynasty startups, but because he’s 33, he’ll be drafted later in a dynasty startup than he will be in redraft leagues. Mark Andrews (age 27), George Kittle (29) and Darren Waller (30) are other logical targets for win-now drafters.
  • Win in Year 2: Focus on youth but mix in some proven veterans. Your young roster might not have the juice to win right away, but you’ll have a collection of players likely to have increased in value after Year 1, positioning you to contend in Year 2.
  • You’re probably not targeting Travis Kelce or Mark Andrews if you’re taking a Win in Year 2 approach. Those guys will go at a point in the draft where you should be targeting talented young wide receivers and running backs. But young bucks like Kyle Pitts and Pat Freiermuth are right up your alley.
  • Productive struggle: (Hat tip to Ryan McDowell of Dynasty League Football for coining the term.) Commit to a slow build that will put you in title contention in 2-3 years. Focus heavily on youth in the startup draft and be willing to trade startup picks for picks in future rookie drafts.

Pitts and Freiermuth are worthy targets if you’re taking this approach. So are promising young tight ends such as Cole Kmet, Greg Dulcich, Chigoziem Okonkwo and Jelani Woods.

Dynasty Rookie Draft Kit

Tight End Rankings & Tiers

Here are the top 20 wide receivers in my dynasty rankings, sorted into tiers, with thoughts on some of the players from each tier.

Tier 1

Expect these players to be taken in the second round of 1QB startups and in the third round of superflex startups.

These are the elites at the position in dynasty, but the profiles are very different. … Kelce is the gold standard at tight end, but he’s 33, and his reign can’t last forever. … Pitts played his first NFL game at age 20 and became the first rookie TE in 60 years to have a 1,000-yard season. His future is bright, but he’s currently stuck in a run-heavy offense with a suboptimal QB situation. … At 27, Andrews is in his prime, but he hasn’t consistently churned out great seasons the way Kelce has.

Tier 2

Expect these players to be taken in the fourth or fifth round of 1QB startups and in the fifth or sixth round of superflex startups.

Call this the Solid Veteran Tier. … Hockenson’s target volume shot up last year after being traded from Detroit to Minnesota, resulting in a career-best season. He’s entering his age-26 season. … Goedert hasn’t scored more than five TDs in any of his five NFL seasons, but he’s a consistent yardage producer. … Kittle is a monster, but his usage as a pass catcher in the San Francisco offense can be inconsistent, and he turns 30 in October.

Tier 3

Expect these players to be taken in the 7th to 11th round of 1QB startups and in the 9th to 13th round of superflex startups.

This year’s rookie TE class looks like a good one. Kincaid is the headliner as the only tight end selected in the first round, but second-rounders LaPorta and Mayer could be immediately fantasy-viable. … Freiermuth has racked up 60 or more receptions in each of his first two seasons as a pro. … Dulcich and Okonkwo showed promise as rookies in 2021 and are appealing dynasty investments.

Tier 4

Expect these players to be taken in the 8th to 15th round of 1QB startups and in the 10th to 17th round of superflex startups.

The toolsy Engram teased fantasy managers for four seasons after a promising rookie campaign in 2017, but he came through with a 73-766-4 season in 2022. … McBride, who was thought to be the best pass-catching TE from the rookie class of 2021, should get a chance to do more in 2022 with teammate Zach Ertz trying to work his way back from a major knee injury. … Darren Waller can be a difference maker when healthy, but he’ll be 31 this season and has missed 14 games over the last two years. … Consider taking a chance on Woods, a second-year man with 4.61 speed, a 6-foot-7 frame and the wingspan of a pterodactyl.

Final Thoughts

A few final thoughts about drafting tight ends in dynasty startups:

  • In leagues that aren’t TE-premium, there’s nothing wrong with cutting corners at tight end. Sure, it’s great to have a young, productive tight end anchoring the position for you. But if you plow your draft capital into other positions, it’s fine to ham-and-egg it with older but still productive veteran TEs.
  • Draft capital generally means less at tight end than it does at wide receiver or running backs. It’s not uncommon for early-round tight ends to bust, or for late-round tight ends to have productive careers. Keep that in mind when evaluating TEs.
  • If you don’t have a top tight end, attack the position with volume. Dynasty rosters are usually much bigger than redraft rosters, so you can carry 3-5 TEs and hope one of them pops. And it’s usually easier to find useful TEs on the waiver wire in dynasty leagues than it is to find useful RBs or WRs.
  • Remember: It’s a dynasty league, and dynasty managers generally like to trade. If you’re not content with your tight ends coming out of the startup draft, find the managers with a TE surplus and start negotiating.

Fitz’s Dynasty Startup Draft Wide Receiver Rankings

2023 Fantasy Football Rankings powered by FantasyProsECR (TM) – Expert Consensus Rankings

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