THE TRUTH: Top 10 TEs in 2023 (Fantasy Football)

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We have reached the end of the TRUTH series. Over the past two weeks, Andy, Mike, and Jason have dissected the top-20 running backs and wide receivers, as well as the top-10 quarterbacks. Now it’s time to dig into the tight-end position to find what it meant for fantasy managers in 2023 and start envisioning how it will unfold in 2024.

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First of all, let’s take a look at how the TRUTH algorithm breaks down tight end performances, considering half PPR scoring:

  • Great Games are 15+ points.
  • Good Games are 8+ points.
  • Bust Games are under 5.5 points.
  • Note: Missed Games are not taken into account.

Tight Ends Overview

2023 was a big year for tight ends. There were 2,699 total TE receptions, which is the most in NFL history. 23% of all completions went to the TE position and we had some unexpectedly great seasons from players like rookie sensation Sam LaPorta, David Njoku, Trey McBride, and Evan Engram, who fell two receptions short of setting a new NFL record. 

But it was also a weird year with the fewest receiving touchdowns by TEs since 2011. Sam LaPorta was the only one to score more than 6 TDs because tight ends in general were less involved inside the red zone. Knowing this, let’s take a look at the top 10:

1. Sam LaPorta | Lions

Age: 23.0 | ADP 13.11/TE16

17 games – 120 targets for 86/889/10 – 1/4/0 rushing

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2023 Consistency Rank: 3

1st Half: 3 / 2nd Half: 4

Great Games Good Games Bust Games
35% 59% 18%

Sam LaPorta had a fantastic rookie season. Besides finishing as the TE1, he had the highest points per game ever for a rookie TE. He was part of a very good offense and his QB Jared Goff had a very decent season. The big question is: should LaPorta be drafted as the TE1 next season? He showed he has the skills to do it again, but we shouldn’t ignore that part of his success came in the form of touchdowns. He scored 10 TDs while no other TE had more than six. That is a little concerning since touchdowns aren’t as sticky as volume stats. We can’t just assume he will be better in his sophomore season so he might be a risky second or third-round draft pick.

2. Evan Engram | Jaguars

Age: 29.3 | ADP 7.11/TE8

17 games – 143 targets for 114/963/4

2023 Consistency Rank: 7

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1st Half: 9  / 2nd Half: 5

Great Games Good Games Bust Games
18% 53% 24%

Drafted as the TE8, Evan Engram was definitely a valuable draft pick. He wasn’t exactly a week winner like LaPorta, but he was very consistent and really helped fantasy managers from Week 13 on. His four touchdowns happened during that span. He was actually the Jaguars’ most consistent receiver. He had such a low bust rate because he was constantly targeted. But the Jaguars will likely spend an important draft pick on a talented wide receiver if they don’t get one via free agency, and that would be bad news for Evan Engram’s volume.

3. Travis Kelce | Chiefs

Age: 34.2 | ADP 1.05/TE1

15 games – 121 targets 93/984/5

2023 Consistency Rank: 1

1st Half: 1  / 2nd Half: 6

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Great Games Good Games Bust Games
27% 73% 20%

Another great season from Travis Kelce. He was the most consistent of all TEs, but was he worth such a high draft pick? He had seven top-6 finishes during the season and he carried your team on those weeks, but he wasn’t very helpful at the end of the season. He was the reason many teams got kicked out of the playoffs and almost no one won a championship with Kelce on their roster. Yes, 20% is a very good bust rate, but last year he had zero bust games. His great games also decreased considerably, but fantasy managers should’ve expected this kind of regression after such an outstanding 2022 season. However, his target share and production during the playoffs have been off the charts. So what’s next for Travis Kelce? He won’t have a first-round ADP anymore and LaPorta will most likely go before him. He might be a risky pick, but if he falls to the third or fourth round it will be very hard to let him pass.

4. T.J. Hockenson | Vikings

Age: 26.5 | ADP 4.12/TE4

15 games – 127 targets 95/960/5

2023 Consistency Rank: 5

1st Half: 4  / 2nd Half: 8

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Great Games Good Games Bust Games
20% 60% 7%

T.J. Hockenson was the TE1 from Weeks 1 to 12, averaging nine targets and 66 yards per game. But then he got injured and the expectation right now is for him to start next season on the PUP list. And even if he somehow suits up for Week 1, he will be extremely limited until he is 100%, which could be around Halloween. Also, his best 2023 games were when Justin Jefferson was out, so we shouldn’t be extremely confident in him repeating that kind of numbers once he returns. Given all this situation, Hockenson will most likely be a late-round IR spot stash target this next draft season, but he might not even be worth it.

5. George Kittle | 49ers

Age: 30.2 | ADP 4.09/TE3

16 games – 90 targets for 65/1020/6

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2023 Consistency Rank: 4

1st Half: 5  / 2nd Half: 2

Great Games Good Games Bust Games
38% 56% 38%

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Once again, George Kittle was a complicated boom-bust fantasy play. He won you some weeks and he actively hurt you some other times. He averaged 8.8 more fantasy points at home than he did on the road, which is a crazy difference. But despite being a roller coaster ride, George Kittle led all TEs in receiving yards, 20+ yard plays, and yards per route run. This is an improvement from his previous season, in which he had to score TDs constantly to get the job done for his fantasy managers.

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6. David Njoku | Browns

Age: 27.5 | ADP 8.05/TE10

16 games – 123 targets for 81/882/6

2023 Consistency Rank: 6

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1st Half: 23  / 2nd Half: 1

Great Games Good Games Bust Games
19% 56% 31%

David Njoku had a slow start but from Week 7 on, he was impressive and finally had his long-awaited breakout. He suddenly became a focal point of the Browns offense. He had a dominant run catching passes from Joe Flacco, scoring 75.3 fantasy points over his final four games, which is one of the best final stretches over the last decade for a TE. He became so hard to tackle, that he finished as the TE1 in yards after the catch. The big concern: none of this dominance happened with Deshaun Watson, so that will be the question during draft season.

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7. Cole Kmet | Bears

Age: 24.8 | ADP 11.08/TE13

17 games – 90 targets for 73/719/6

2023 Consistency Rank: 11

1st Half: 7  / 2nd Half: 18

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Great Games Good Games Bust Games
12% 41% 29%

There wasn’t much talk about Cole Kmet during the season, but he quietly finished among the top 10 and had some very impressive plays. However, there’s no way to know what will happen with the Chicago Bears‘ entire organization this next year. He is a talented tight end but there are too many unknowns around him right now.

8. Jake Ferguson | Cowboys

Age: 25.0 | ADP Undrafted

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17 games – 102 targets for 71/761/5

2023 Consistency Rank: 9

1st Half: 8  / 2nd Half: 9

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Great Games Good Games Bust Games
12% 47% 35%

Jake Ferguson will be an interesting late-round target in 2024. He had 102 targets and led all TEs in red zone targets with 25. He might not be the focal point of the Cowboys offense but at least this year he was their second-most target player. He won’t win you many weeks but he is a reliable option that you can simply keep on your roster as a cheap weekly starter.

9. Trey McBride | Cardinals

Age: 24.2 | ADP Undrafted

17 games – 106 targets 81/825/3

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2023 Consistency Rank: 10

1st Half: 25  / 2nd Half: 3

Great Games Good Games Bust Games
24% 41% 41%

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Trey McBride was one of this season’s most exciting tight ends. He took over Zach Ertz’s job once he was waived and immediately became a great fantasy asset. His pace from Week 6 on was 103 receptions, over 1,000 yards, and three TDs. His talent is unquestionable and his ADP already seems to be skyrocketing. This might change if the Cardinals draft WR Marvin Harrison Jr., who is expected to become an NFL superstar almost immediately. But even if this happens, if Trey McBride is clearly the #2 target in Arizona, he has the ability to take over games, which is a rare trait in tight ends.

10. Dalton Schultz | Texans

Age: 27.5 | ADP 10.10/TE12

15 games – 88 targets 67/635/5

2023 Consistency Rank: 8

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1st Half: 5  / 2nd Half: 11

Great Games Good Games Bust Games
13% 47% 40%

It was a great year to be part of the Houston Texans’ offense. Dalton Schultz benefited from CJ Stroud’s high-passing volume and was the TE3 in points per game from Weeks 4 to 11. But he is a free agent and there might be several teams interested in him. His ADP will be an interesting topic during this offseason.

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Honorable Mentions Outside The Top 10:

Ravens Tight Ends

13. Mark Andrews / 22. Isaiah Likely

Mark Andrews was the TE2 in consistency and was the overall TE3 in fantasy before injury. But Isaiah Likely did a very good job when he was out, so it will be very interesting to see how the Ravens sort this situation out next season.

14. Dallas Goedert | Eagles

It feels like a lost year for Dallas Goedert. He seems to be following the steps of Zach Ertz during his last years as an Eagle. He scored more than seven fantasy points just four times in 14 games. With a 43% bust rate, it was a season to forget.

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