Most managers will head into 2022 fantasy football drafts looking to nab one of the top-tier tight ends. While there's nothing wrong with that, savvy drafters will identify potential breakout candidates they can target later on in order to prioritize premium skill-position talent. If these dark horses pan out, it can have league-changing implications.
With that in mind, here are three breakout tight ends to consider in fantasy drafts this year.
Breakout TEs 2022
1. Gerald Everett (ADP: TE22)
Gerald Everett posted career-high marks across the board in 2021 despite playing on an offense that ranked dead last in pass attempts per game. He logged 478 yards and 4 touchdowns on 48 receptions. He also posted a catch rate of 76.2% and racked up 11 missed tackles after the catch. Both of those marks ranked within the top-six at the TE position. Everett now finds himself on a Chargers offense that ranked third in pass attempts per game last season. LA didn't give Everett a two-year deal worth $12 million to block along the line and leak out as a receiver at times. They paid him to be a reliable target for quarterback Justin Herbert. Veteran Jared Cook finished as the TE16 in 2021 as the Chargers' starting TE despite a dismal 57.8% catch percentage. Its' safe to say that lines up to be Everett's floor this fall, but his ceiling is that of a borderline top-12 option.
2. Irv Smith Jr. (ADP: TE17)
The chance of Irv Smith Jr. breaking out in 2022 comes down to his health more than anything else. The good news is that the 24-year-old remains on track to be ready to go by Week 1 after suffering a thumb injury early on in training camp. Quarterback Kirk Cousin has shown over and over again that he is going to target his tight end in the passing attack. In 2020, Smith saw 43 targets in 13 games (3.3 average) as the team's No. 2 TE. In 2021, Vikings starter Tyler Conklin saw 87 targets in 17 games (5.1 average). Those 87 targets ranked sixth among TEs. With Conklin now with the Jets, Smith is the best option to take on that vacated work. Expect Smith to get open over the middle of the field often with wide receivers Justin Jefferson and Adam Thielen drawing a lot of defensive attention. Smith's ADP of TE17 is nowhere near his ceiling.
3. Dalton Schultz (ADP: TE6)
There's no denying that Dalton Schultz already had his breakout season in 2021. After all, he was the No. 3 TE in fantasy football and racked up 808 yards to go along with 8 touchdowns on 78 receptions. The fact that he is being drafted outside of the top-five at the position means he could very well have another breakout year in 2022, though. The Cowboys traded Amari Cooper this past offseason and Michael Gallup remains sidelined in his recovery from a torn ACL. Aside from CeeDee Lamb, quarterback Dak Prescott has no other option but to force feed Schultz in the passing attack. It's worth pointing out that no one other than Travis Kelce, Darren Waller and Mark Andrews has racked up more fantasy points than Schultz since 2020. He is going to be a receptions machine and a red zone mismatch against opposing defenders. Schultz also hasn't missed a single game over the last three seasons. That kind of reliability is rare from a tight end, so drafting him at the end of the fifth round is a great choice.
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Larry Rupp is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Larry Rupp also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username phillyfan424. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.