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Tight End Draft Values, Breakouts & Busts (2024 Fantasy Football)

Tight End Draft Values, Breakouts & Busts (2024 Fantasy Football)

While the 2023 NFL season is over, fantasy football is a year-long thing. Therefore, it’s never too early to look ahead to next year.

Today, I look back at the 2023 season, highlighting some of the top ADP values, breakouts, and busts at the tight end position while also taking an early look at potential candidates in these areas for the 2024 season.

2024 Dynasty Fantasy Football Guide

Tight End Draft Values, Breakouts & Busts

2023 General Review

The 2023 season was the start of a change at the tight end position. We are seeing a change at the top, where Travis Kelce is no longer the clear-cut TE1 for fantasy players. The future Hall of Famer wasn’t a bust, ending the year as the TE2 in half-point PPR scoring. Yet, he was a disappointment, given the cost after being a first-round pick in most fantasy drafts. Meanwhile, four rookie or second-year players finished the season inside the top-12 tight ends, including the overall TE1.

2023 Top ADP Values

Sam LaPorta (DET)

Tight ends historically have little fantasy value in their rookie season. However, LaPorta broke the narrative despite having to earn targets behind Amon-Ra St. Brown in Detroit. He was the TE1, averaging 11.5 half-point PPR fantasy points per game. The rookie led all tight ends in receiving touchdowns (10), totaling four more than anyone else at the position. Furthermore, LaPorta had more receiving touchdowns than Travis Kelce, Dallas Goedert and Zach Ertz combined. He should be the clear-cut TE1 in redraft leagues in 2024.

Evan Engram (JAC)

Many had doubts about Engram after the Jaguars acquired Calvin Ridley. However, the veteran tight end had an even better season than in 2022. He saw his target share improve by 6.3% and his target per route run rate increase by 4% from two years ago to last season (per Fantasy Points Data). The veteran was the TE2, averaging 10.2 half-point PPR fantasy points per game in 2023. Engram’s 114 receptions came three short of breaking the NFL record for most receptions by a tight end in a season.

2023 Top Breakouts

Trey McBride (ARI)

After a quiet rookie season, McBride was the TE9 in 2023, averaging 8.3 half-point PPR fantasy points per game. However, the former Colorado star became a must-start tight end after Zach Ertz got hurt. McBride averaged 12.5 fantasy points per game starting in Week 8 through the rest of the year, with anyone but Clayton Tune starting at quarterback. Furthermore, he averaged 2.17 yards per route run, a 29.8 first-read target share and 0.37 fantasy points per route run with Kyler Murray under center (per Fantasy Points Data).

Jake Ferguson (DAL)

Some called Ferguson a sleeper candidate heading into the 2023 season. Yet, few expected him to turn into the No. 2 weapon for the Cowboys. The second-year tight end finished second only to CeeDee Lamb in receptions (71), targets (102), receiving yards (761) and first-read target share (17.6%) per Fantasy Points Data. More importantly, he was the TE8 for the year, averaging 8.3 half-point PPR fantasy points per game. Ferguson will likely never turn into a fantasy star. However, he belongs in the low-end TE1 range heading into next year.

2023 Top Busts

Darren Waller (NYG)

Waller was the ultimate boom-or-bust tight-end draft pick last season. Many bought into New York’s limited preseason success, while others harped about his potentially massive role in the offense. Unfortunately, injuries and poor production ruined his fantasy value. Waller missed significant time because of injuries for the third consecutive year. More importantly, he averaged 7.3 half-point PPR fantasy points per game and totaled only one receiving touchdown, his worst production since taking over as a full-time player in 2019. His days as a TE1 are over.

Kyle Pitts (ATL)

Fantasy players have quickly lost faith in Pitts after the tight end put together back-to-back disappointing seasons. He finished the year as the TE13, averaging 6.5 half-point PPR fantasy points per game after playing in all 17 contests. However, Pitts was only the TE16 on a points-per-game basis. His yards per reception and yards per route run have declined every year of his career. Hopefully, he will be healthy in 2024, can bounce back under a new coaching staff and get an upgrade at quarterback.

2024 General Preview

Every year, the fantasy football industry talks about how limited the options are at the tight end position. However, that will change this upcoming season. There will still be the elite three to five tight ends everyone will want on their team. Yet, we could see up to 15 guys have consistent fantasy value in 2024. While that shouldn’t keep fantasy players from spending an early pick on a tight end, it does allow them options on draft day.

2024 Potential ADP Values

Pat Freiermuth (PIT)

Last year was one to forget for Freiermuth. He missed five games because of injuries and struggled when playing, averaging a career-low 5.1 half-point PPR fantasy points per game. Freiermuth saw his targets (36.1%) and receiving yards per game (43.9%) significantly drop from 2022 to last season. However, the arrival of Arthur Smith is good news for him. Last year, the Atlanta Falcons tight ends averaged a 31.7% overall target share and a 29.3% red zone target share. Hopefully, the passing attack is built around Freiermuth.

Hunter Henry (NE)

Despite playing on a dumpster-fire offense, the veteran tight end had a productive 2023 season. Henry averaged 7.1 half-point PPR fantasy points per game, his highest mark since joining the Patriots a few years ago. More importantly, he returned to being a touchdown producer, leading the team with six receiving scores. Furthermore, Henry had the second-most receiving touchdowns among tight ends last year, only behind Sam LaPorta. The veteran could turn into a low-end TE1 for fantasy players if he lands in a good situation this offseason.

2024 Potential Breakouts

Michael Mayer (LV)

While Mayer didn’t have a fantasy impactful rookie season, he did show potential. The former Notre Dame star struggled to see a consistent target share, earning more than two targets in only four games. However, Mayer was productive in those four games, averaging 9.5 half-point PPR fantasy points per contest. He would have been the TE8 on a points-per-game basis with that average. If the Raiders upgrade at quarterback or trade away Davante Adams in the offseason, Mayer could have a second-year breakout.

Brevin Jordan (HOU)

Houston become a fantasy-friendly offense this year. Dalton Schultz benefited from C.J. Stroud, finishing as the TE11, averaging 8.1 half-point PPR fantasy points despite barely having a higher target share than Robert Woods. However, Schultz is a free agent and could leave in the offseason, making Jordan the favorite to take over as the starter. He flashed some upside in 2023, averaging a higher yards-per-route-run rate than the veteran. Jordan likely won’t be a plug-and-play TE1 but could have some meaningful fantasy value as the starter.

2024 Potential Busts

T.J. Hockenson (MIN)

Hockenson was outstanding last season. He ended the year as the TE4, averaging 11.4 half-point PPR fantasy points per game. However, the former Iowa star was the TE2, averaging 11.7 fantasy points per game before suffering a torn ACL in Week 16 despite playing with four different quarterbacks. Hopefully, Kirk Cousins returns to Minnesota and keeps the Vikings’ offense appealing for fantasy players. Yet, Hockenson likely will miss most of the 2024 season, making him undraftable in most redraft leagues, especially at his current Underdog TE12 ADP.

Brock Bowers (Georgia)

Yes, a rookie ended the 2023 season as the TE1. However, no other rookie tight end finished inside the top 10. Sam LaPorta landed in the perfect situation to have fantasy success, playing for an explosive Detroit Lions offense that lacked proven weapons outside Amon-Ra St. Brown. Bowers has the talent to have a top-10 season as a rookie. Yet, his TE7 ADP on Underdog is too high before getting drafted. Fantasy players are drafting Bowers at his ceiling unless he lands in an ideal situation.

More Early 2024 Fantasy Football Draft Prep

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Mike Fanelli is a featured writer at FantasyPros. For more from Mike, check out his archive and follow him @Mike_NFL2.

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