We are inching closer to the start of the 2022 NFL season, and with that we’re seeing an obvious increase in the number of fantasy drafts. That makes it more important than ever to examine your fantasy positional “tiers.” Unlike my regular player rankings, which you can also find on Sports Illustrated, tiers group players of similar value together. So, if you miss out on a particular player, you can see others on his tier as an alternative.
In the final part of this four-part series, let’s take a look at the tight ends.
Tier 1 – The Elite
Kelce has been the top tight end in fantasy football in five of the last six years, including a 2020 season that saw him produce the second-best year of all time at the position. He figures to be a top-15 pick in most drafts. Kelce was actually taken out of the top spot last season by Andrews, who had a career campaign and will remain the top option in the Ravens’ pass attack for Lamar Jackson. He’ll be a second-round pick in most drafts.
Tier 2 – High TE1s
Pitts is coming off a good fantasy season that might have been great had he not been held to just one touchdown. He should experience positive regression in that category this season, however, and I can see a scenario where he pushes into the elite tier. The duo of Waller and Kittle have lost a bit of their luster, most notably the former, who will now share targets with Davante Adams and Hunter Renfrow in Las Vegas. Still, both of them remain among the top players at what is a thin position for fantasy fans. Schultz surprisingly finished third in fantasy points among tight ends last season, and the loss of Amari Cooper likely means another high target share. He could be a mid-round value.
Tier 3 – Mid TE1s
Hockenson takes a bit of a step back in terms of his ranking at the position this season, as the Lions added D.J. Chark and Jameson Williams to a team with a glut of good pass catchers. Still, I like him to post top-8 totals at the position. Goedert dropped a few spots after the Eagles landed A.J. Brown this offseason, but he too remains an asset for fantasy managers. Ertz was tremendous for fantasy managers last season in Arizona, but the addition of Marquise Brown and the eventual return of DeAndre Hopkins from a six-game suspension could make him a bit less consistent in the stat sheets in the second half of the season.
Tier 4 – Low TE1s
Fant finished 11th in fantasy points among tight ends last season, averaging nearly 10 points per game. He’ll benefit from the rapport he has with Drew Lock and a Seahawks offense that will use the tight ends more often. Freiermuth has all the makings of a No. 1 fantasy tight end, but how will he perform without Ben Roethlisberger? We’ll see. Knox is almost certain to see touchdown regression, but his red-zone presence in what will remain a high-scoring Buffalo offense keeps him on the borderline of No. 1 tight ends.
Henry and Gesicki both finished in the top nine in fantasy points at the position in 2021, but I’d expect a decline in production this season. Henry will have a tough time getting back to the nine-touchdown level he reached a year ago, and Gesicki is certain to lose targets in an offense that now includes Tyreek Hill, Jaylen Waddle and Cedrick Wilson.
Tier 6 – Mid TE2s
Kmet is one of my favorite sleeper tight ends. Justin Fields liked to target the position as a rookie, and Kmet no longer has Jimmy Graham to contend with in the red zone. Njoku should see more targets in Cleveland, though we’re not sure from who at this point. Smith has big-time potential in the Vikings offense, but he missed all of last year with an injured knee and is missing camp due to a thumb injury. He’s expected to be ready for Week 1, however. Okwuegbunam should benefit with Russell Wilson in Denver, and Hooper has some late-round value as the potential No. 3 option in Tennessee’s passing game.
Tier 7 – Low TE2s
This quartet of tight ends has likely already reached their respective statistical ceilings, so there’s not a ton of upside. Higbee lost some luster when the Rams signed Allen Robinson, and Tonyan is still making his way back from an injured knee. Everett landed in a good spot with the high-octane Chargers, but he won’t be prominently featured. The Jaguars hope Engram can rebound from a few disappointing years, but that team has a lot of mouths to feed after what was a busy offseason. Engram is a low-end TE2 at best.
Tier 8 – Deep Fliers
Brevin Jordan, Texans
Hayden Hurst, Bengals
Mo Alie-Cox, Colts
Logan Thomas, Commanders
Cameron Brate, Buccaneers
Daniel Bellinger, Giants
Harrison Bryant, Browns
Taysom Hill, Saints
C.j. Uzomah, Jets
Jordan is my favorite player in this tier, as the Texans could use him in the slot more often after losing rookie receiver John Metchie for the season. Hurst could pop a few times, but he won’t be consistent enough to be a regular fantasy option. Thomas is still a question mark coming off a major knee injury, and Brate lost value when the Buccaneers added Kyle Rudolph. Hill could be a sneaky late-rounder in drafts due to his versatile skill set.