Fantasy football tight end draft guide 2022: Depth charts, red zone targets and more

There is no shortage of information out there to help fantasy football team owners make the most of their picks at the most important and productive positions — wide receiver and running back. 

We’ve broken down some sleepers we like at both the WR and RB spot, as well as ranking RBs and WRs.

We also produced an in-depth depth chart that accounts for players targets last season as a guide for helping with maximizing value and picking players with real opportunities to post stats. 

But what about tight ends? We already sort of covered this at a glance when we suggested some tight end sleepers.

The top two guys, Travis Kelce (14.6) and Mark Andrews (13.6) were the only two at their position to average more than 12 fantasy points per game last season (.5 PPR). After that duo, there was Rob Gronkowski at 12.0 — he’s currently retired — George Kittle at 11.6, and Dalton Schultz at 10.0.

And then there’s a drop off. The middling middle of the pack of tight ends last year saw eight players average between 8.0-9.9 points per game (Dawson Knox, Dallas Goedert, Hunter Henry, Darren Waller, Logan Thomas, Zach Ertz, Kyle Pitts and T.J. Hockenson). Here’s a look at our top 25 tight ends this season. 

Tight end stats are extremely volatile because they are so reliant on touchdowns. The big bodied pass catchers are expect to do the most damage in the red zone, and sometimes they do not — hence Kyle Pitt’s solid rookie stats but mundane fantasy numbers due to a lack of touchdowns. 

We cannot predict touchdowns. But we can predict who might have the best chance of scoring some.

Here’s a look at targets from 2021 from each team’s top two tight ends. This guide could help you to take someone who may surprise by cashing in a reverse touchdown stat regression. The top 15 most targeted tight ends are bolded:

Team TE 1 (targets) TE 2 (targets)
Cardinals Zach Ertz (112) Trey McBride (Rookie)
Falcons Kyle Pitts (110) Anthony Firkser (43)
Ravens Mark Andrews (153) Isaiah Likely (Rookie)
Bills Dawson Knox (71) O.J. Howard (21)
Panthers Tommy Tremble (35) Ian Thomas (30)
Bears Coke Kmet (93) James O’Shaughnessy (34)
Bengals Hayden Hurst (31) Drew Sample (15)
Browns David Njoku (53)  Harris Bryant (28)
Cowboys Dalton Schultz (104) Jake Ferguson (Rookie)
Broncos Albert Okuegbunam (40) Greg Dulcich (Rookie)
Lions T.J. Hockenson (84) Brock Wright (17)
Packers Robert Tonyan (29) Josiah Deguara (33)
Texans Brevin Jordan (28) Pharaoh Brown (34)
Colts Evan Engram (73) Dan Arnold (52)
Chiefs Travis Kelce (134) Noah Gray (10)
Chargers Gerald Everett (63) Donald Parham Jr. (27)
Rams Tyler Higbee (85) Jacob Harris (0)
Raiders Darren Waller (93) Foster Morneau (44)
Dolphins Mick Gesicki (112) Durham Smythe (41)
Vikings Irv. Smith Jr. (Hurt) Johnny Mundt (1)
Patriots Hunter Henry (75) Jonnu Smith (45)
Saints Adam Trautman (43) Juwan Johnson (22)
Giants Daniel Bellinger (Rookie) Jordan Atkins (33)
Jets C.J. Uzomah (63) Tyler Conklin (87)
Eagles Dallas Goedert (76) Grant Calcaterra (Rookie)
Steelers Pat Freiermuth (79) Zach Gentry (25)
Seahawks Noah Fant (90) Will Dissly (26)
49ers George Kittle (94) Ross Dwelley (5)
Buccaneers Cameron Brate (57) Kyle Rudolph (39)
Titans Austin Hooper (61) Geoff Swaim (40)
Commanders Logan Thomas (25) John Bates (25)

A few things to keep in mind. Some tight ends above are on new teams (like Noah Fant) and some have new quarterbacks (like Pat Freiermuth). But seeing how they were used in 2021 still is helpful in predicting opportunities for 2022.

One last table — here’s a look at the top 10 tight ends from last season based on red zone targets from their respective quarterbacks:

TE (team) Red zone targets TD
Mark Andrews (BAL) 20 9
Cameron Brate (TB) 20 4
Zach Ertz (PHI/ARI) 20 4
Pat Freiermouth (PIT) 20 7
Tyler Higbee (LAR) 18 5
Dawson Knox (BUF) 18 6
Hunter Henry (NE) 17 8
Tyler Conklin (MIN) 16 3
Travis Kelce (KC) 16 7
Kyle Pitts (ATL) 14 1

As you can see, there is a ton of variance between how many times a team throws to a tight end inside the 20 yard line, and how many times it results in a touchdown. Andrews turned red zone opportunities into six points nearly 50% of the time. Pitts did it just 7% of the time.

After the top few guys, drafting tight ends is a crap shoot. But there is value if you look for a player who’ll be getting chances to make plays in 2022.

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