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2022 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings & Tiers: Travis Kelce Remains On Top

Will Desvallees Aug 15th 12:48 PM EDT.

Over the last 10 years, tight ends have seen their role change. There is no position more shallow than tight end heading into the 2022 fantasy football season. Today, some tight ends such as Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews are the most important pass-catchers on their respective teams.

Tier 1 features the best of the best tight ends in this year’s fantasy football draft. In Tier 2, we’ll take a look at the best consolation prizes if you miss out on the top two tight ends in all of fantasy football. We will examine the final tight ends you should consider starting in Tier 3, including players such as T.J. Hockenson of the Detroit Lions and Dalton Schultz of the Dallas Cowboys.

In Tier 4, we’ll consider some big scorers such as second-year tight end Pat Freirermouth of the Pittsburgh Steelers, Dawson Knox of the Buffalo Bills, and Hunter Henry of the New England Patriots. In the final few tiers that we examine, we’ll take a look at some of the bottom-end tight ends fantasy football owners should probably shy away from on draft day.

Let’s dive in. 

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Make sure to take a look at our 2022 fantasy football tier rankings at each position: 

Tier 1 - The Top-Two

  • Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs
  • Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens

Analysis: Season after season, Travis Kelce has produced stellar numbers for the Chiefs and fantasy football fans alike. In each of the last six consecutive seasons (2016-2021), Kelce has caught for at least 1,000+ yards and a handful of touchdowns. In three of the last four seasons, Kelce has scored at least nine touchdowns. 2019 was the only season in the last five years in which Kelce had less than eight touchdown receptions. Over the last five regular seasons, Kelce has racked up a combined 43 touchdown receptions and 6,144 receiving yards. Since 2017, Kelce has put up the most yardage of any tight end by far. George Kittle is second on this list with 4,489 receiving yards (1,500+ fewer receiving yards than Kelce) over the last five seasons. Likewise, Kelce has produced the most touchdowns of any TE since 2017. Kelce has a combined 45 touchdowns (43 receiving TDs, and two rushing TDs) over the last five seasons. Second to him on this list is Mark Andrews who has had 29 end zone catches since 2017. Kelce is the best tight end in football. This season, he will likely see his numbers increase as a result of Tyreek Hill leaving the organization. Kelce is the pass-catcher on the Chiefs Patrick Mahomes has the most chemistry with and to who he is likely the most confident at throwing the ball. This should mean that Kelce sees more targets this season than he did last season. Not only is Kelce the best tight end in the league, but his role for the Chiefs will also likely expand this season with Tyreek Hill now in Miami. 

Mark Andrews, who has the second-most touchdowns since 2017 after Kelce, has been a go-to option for Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. Last season, Andrews had a career-high 107 receptions for 1,361 receiving yards. He was just one end zone grab away from matching his 2019 regular-season record of 10 receiving touchdowns. The Ravens got rid of WR Marquise Brown this offseason, leaving Rashod Bateman and Devin Duvernay as the team’s two best wideouts heading into 2022. This could mean that Jackson relies even more heavily on Andrews on the field and in the end zone than he did last season. Brown produced 1,008 receiving yards and six touchdowns last season. While Jackson will look for his receivers on the field, there is a good chance that Mark Andrews becomes Lamar Jackson’s Travis Kelce in 2022.  

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Tier 2: Mid-Round Tight Ends

  • George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

Analysis: Tier 2 is dedicated to the best available tight ends in the NFL but who aren’t as important as guys like Kelce and Andrews. These three players should go between Round 4 and Round 6 (depending on the number of teams in your league.) Kittle is one of the best tight ends in the league. While Kittle is certainly one of the best blocking tight ends in the league, his offensive numbers over the last few seasons place him below the elite at the position. Kittle was once drafted among the top tier of tight ends but that is no longer the case, especially since he is not Trey Lance’s go-to target over Deebo Samuel. Kittle missed half of the 2020 season due to injury and returned for 14 games in 2021 when he produced 910 receiving yards and a career-high six touchdowns. While Kittle produced 1,000+ yards in 2018 and 2019, he only scored five touchdowns in each of those seasons. In his first five NFL regular seasons, Kittle has produced just 20 receiving touchdowns. While Kittle will consistently produce 900-1,000+ yards when healthy, he doesn’t get into the end zone enough to make him a top-tier tight end. The 49ers run the ball a bit too much in the red zone for Kittle to have the value of a Travis Kelce or Mark Andrews. Still, Kittle is capable of going off. Take a look at what he did late last season:

Kyle Pitts exploded as a rookie for the Falcons in 2021. The No. 4 overall selection by the Falcons in the 2021 NFL Draft only had one touchdown in his rookie season, but finished the season with 1,026 yards, averaging 15.1 yards per catch and 60.4 yards per game. Without Calvin Ridley on the field in 2022, Pitts is going to see a plethora of targets. The main concern is the signal-caller who will be tossing him the pigskin. Either rookie quarterback Desmond Ridder or veteran Marcus Mariota is expected to win the quarterback competition in Atlanta. That doesn’t bode exactly well for Pitts, who benefited from Matt Ryan’s accuracy last year. Still, Pitts has immense upside as the only real weapon in Atlanta heading into 2022.

The third and final TE on this list is Las Vegas’ Darren Waller. Waller struggled with substance abuse in his first few NFL seasons but found a new home in Oakland in 2019. Since then, Waller has worked his way into becoming one of the best at the position. Though injuries held him to just 11 games in 2021, Waller caught for at least 90 catches and 1,100+ yards in 2019 and 2020. He caught 76.9% of his targets in 2019, and 73.8% of his targets in 2020. Waller had 69 first downs and nine touchdowns to go alongside 1,196 yards receiving in 2020. Waller is a key factor in the Raiders’ offense heading into 2022. While Davante Adams could impact the number of targets WR Hunter Renfrow gets this season, it shouldn’t reduce Waller’s targets and production in 2022. If Waller stays healthy, expect him to have put up similar numbers in 2019 and 2020. Since then, Waller’s developed tremendous chemistry with Carr, further increasing his chances of having a career season in 2022. 

Tier 3 - Don’t Wait for Longer To Target Your TE1

  • T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions
  • Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys

Analysis: In Philly, Dallas Goedert has taken over as the team’s best available tight end. Goedert finished the season with four touchdowns and 834 receiving yards. In turn, Zach Ertz joined the Cardinals and is their best tight end heading into the season. Since he was traded mid-way through last season, Ertz’s numbers in 2021 were perhaps negatively impacted. Still, Ertz played in 17 games last season (six with Philadelphia; 11 with Arizona) for 763 yards and five touchdowns. 

Hockenson and Schultz are both young tight ends who had encouraging seasons in 2021. Hockenson missed five games last season, but still produced 583 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Though he missed more games last season than he did in 2020, Hockenson produced a career-high 48.6 yards per game and caught 72.6% of the passes thrown his way in 2021. For the Cowboys, Schultz played his fourth NFL season in 2021 and had a breakout year. He played in all 17 games for Dallas finishing the season with a career-high 808 yards and eight touchdowns. 

Tier 4 - Touchdowns at the Cost of Yardage

  • Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills
  • Hunter Henry, New England Patriots

Analysis: In his third NFL season, Dawson Knox had 49 catches for 587 yards and nine touchdowns. While he only got 3.3 receptions and less than 40 yards per game in 2021, Knox made up for it with endzone grabs last season. Expect Josh Allen to continue looking for Knox in the end zone in 2022. Similar to Knox, rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth was a key factor in the endzone for the Steelers last season. Though Freirmuth had less than 500 receiving yards last season, he scored seven touchdowns. Both Knox’s and Freiermuth’s fantasy values are impacted by low yardage. However, their ability to get in the endzone consistently makes them reliable options heading into this season. In addition, their great seasons in 2021 could earn them more targets in 2022, which could increase their yard production significantly. 

Also in Tier 3 are two AFC East tight ends: Mike Gesicki of the Miami Dolphins and Hunter Henry of the New England Patriots. Gesicki had 73 catches for 780 receiving yards last season. His relatively high number of receptions somewhat makes up for the only two touchdowns he scored last season. In 2020, Gesicky had 703 yards and six touchdowns. Hunter Henry had an amazing season in his first year with the Patriots last season. He got 603 yards and a career-high nine touchdowns. 

All of these tight ends fell short in either yardage or touchdowns last season. Still, whatever they are missing from one category they make up for in another. While Knox had less than 600 yards last season and Henry had 603 yards in 2021, each of them got into the endzone nine times last year. 

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Tier 5 - Last Call for TE1s

Analysis: The tight ends in Tier 4 are the best at the position for their respective teams. However, they aren’t as crucial a part of their team’s offenses in comparison to the TEs in Tiers 1-3. 

For example, Cole Kmet had 60 catches for 612 yards last season for the Bears. However, he did not get a single touchdown in 2021. Still, Kmet might see his role on Chicago’s offense increase as the team got rid of WR Allen Robinson. The Bears could give Kmet more targets this upcoming season to open up the field for second-year QB Justin Fields. Hayden Hurst played for the Falcons last year but did not start for the team as a result of Kyle Pitts’ immediate impact on their offense. This offseason, he was acquired by the Bengals, and will likely be their top tight end to kick off the season. He caught 26 of 31 targets (83.9 Catch%) last season for 221 yards and three touchdowns. In Green Bay, injuries held Robert Tonyan to just eight games last season. In 2020, he played in 16 games for the Packers finishing the year catching 52 of 59 passes thrown his way (88.1 Catch%) for 586 yards and a whopping 11 touchdowns. Especially because the Packers have a depleted receiving corps heading into 2022 after losing Davante Adams to the Raiders, Tonyan could provide Aaron Rodgers with some relief, especially if his receivers deceive him early on in the season. 

Since leaving the Falcons after the 2019 season, Austin Hooper joined the Cleveland Browns but hasn’t seen close to as many targets as he did in Atlanta. Though he played in 16 games last season, Hooper only caught 38 of 61 targets for 345 yards and three touchdowns. In addition, the quarterback situation in Cleveland is still up in the air at the moment. Now that Hooper has joined the Tennessee Titans this offseason, he is clearly their best option at TE heading into 2022.

Furthermore, the Titans got rid of AJ Brown this offseason, leaving Robert Woods as their best wideout heading into the season. This means that the Titans could be targeting Austin Hooper a lot more in 2022 than the Browns did over the last couple of seasons where he served as backup to David Njoku.

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Tier 6 - Unpredictable

  • David Njoku, Cleveland Browns

Analysis: Tyler Higbee of the Rams plays for a team that feeds its wide receivers. Nonetheless, he still produced 560 yards and five touchdowns last season, and 512 yards and five touchdowns in 2020. The Rams have one of the best receiving corps in football, featuring Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson, and Van Jefferson heading into 2022. While Higbee should produce numbers similar to those of the last two seasons, the vast majority of Matthew Stafford’s targets go to his route runners. Still, Higbee has had 500+ yards and five touchdowns in each of the last two seasons. Higbee can consistently produce but isn’t the most exciting tight end. Likewise, Seahawks' Noah has put up very similar numbers in his first two seasons with the Broncos. In 2020, Fant had 62 catches for 673 yards and three touchdowns. His teammate Albert Okwuegbunam who was Denver’s second-best TE had 330 yards and two touchdowns in 2021, which suggests that Fant has the edge going into 2022. Last season, Fant had 68 catches for 670 yards and four end zone grabs. Since Fant was traded to Seattle, he is their best TE heading into this season. He will also likely be playing with Drew Lock who was his main quarterback last season.

Cameron Brate of the Tampa Bay Buccaneers had four touchdowns last season, but his production in 2022 could be affected by the Bucs' addition of TE Kyle Rudolph. At 32 years old, Rudolph is a veteran who excelled with the Vikings. Though he’s been trending downwards in recent seasons, Rudolph’s fresh start in Tampa should be on all fantasy football owners’ radars. Not only could Rudolph regain his fantasy value in 2022, but his role on the team could hurt Cameron Brate’s production heading into this season. The last tight end in Tier 5 is Houston Texans’ Brevin Jordan. In his rookie season last year, Jordan only played in nine games and started in just two. As a result, he caught for less than 200 yards and had just three touchdowns last season. If Jordan is healthy in 2022, expect him to open up the field for David Mills alongside Brandin Cooks this season. 

The tight ends in Tier 5 have average numbers. If their statistics have been below average in recent seasons, either injuries or instability within their respective organizations can largely be to blame. Heading into 2022, Higbee, Njoku, Fant, and Jordan should be the starting TEs on their teams. 

Tier 7 - Average Joes 

  • Hayden Hurst, Cincinnati Bengals

Analysis: After playing his first four seasons with the Rams largely behind Tyler Higbee, Gerald Everett had a career season last year with the Seahawks where he caught 48 passes for 478 yards and four touchdowns. This offseason, Everett was acquired by the Los Angeles Chargers, where he is by far their best option at TE. With Justin Herbert at quarterback, Everett should have another strong season in 2022. Mo Alie-Cox had a similar season in Indianapolis where he caught four touchdowns and averaged 13.2 yards per catch. He is the Colts’ best option at the position heading into this season. 

The Bengals’ Hayden Hurst is a good player, but he is playing alongside the best wide receiver trio in the NFL which features Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd. With the Falcons last season, Hurst didn’t do much especially playing in Kyle Pitt’s shadow. He could have a much better season in 2022 even though Burrow primarily targets his receivers because he is their best TE heading into the season. The same can be said about New Orleans’ Adam Trautman. The Saints have bolstered up their receiving corps by adding Jarvis Landry and Chris Olave to the mix to join a healthy Michael Thomas. By Trautman being the best TE on the team, he gains fantasy value. Still, fantasy owners should keep a look out for Taysom Hill who the Saints officially converted to TE from QB. 

Tier 8 - Do Not Draft

Analysis: In Jacksonville, tight ends Dan Arnold and Evan Engram are competing in training camp to earn the TE1 spot on the roster. Still, Evan Engram is terrible at catching footballs despite his athleticism. Arnold had 324 yards but no touchdowns last season. I would stay away from both of Jacksonville’s tight ends in all 2022 fantasy football drafts. Likewise, it’s difficult to read who the Giants will start at the position in 2022. While Daniel Bellinger could be their starting tight end, there is a lot of uncertainty for the G-Men at the position. In Houston, Pharaoh Brown will be backing-up Brevin Jordan in 2022 and likely will not see more than 200 or 300 yards on the season.


Tier 9 - Free Agent Steals

  • Taysom Hill, New Orleans Saints

Analysis: For the first time since being in the NFL, Taysom Hill is listed as a true tight end as opposed to a quarterback. The Saints’ swiss-army knife can be used as a rusher, as a passer, or as a pass-catcher. While he may not be passing the ball much anymore, one thing is for certain about Hill, he can get in the endzone. In addition, the Saints’ best TE is Adam Trautman, who isn’t an exceptional talent. 

Another early free-agent tight end target to consider is the Raiders’ Foster Moreau. Though he is playing behind Darren Waller, Moreau still had 373 yards and three touchdowns last season. Especially if Waller misses a few games, Moreau will step in big time as the Raiders’ pass-heavy offense is largely designed for their tight ends. 

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About the Author
Will Desvallees

Will is a recent graduate of Wake Forest University. As an avid NBA (Knicks), NFL (Saints), and MLB (Yankees) buff over the last 13 years, he is looking forward to delivering some interesting and helpful insight here at FantasySP.

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