Tight ends are annually a polarizing topic when it comes to fantasy football drafts. Some prefer to hold off on filling their TE spot until later rounds to stock up on premium RB/WR talent, while others prioritize the advantage of having a top-three tight end on their roster.
The ideal plan of attack will likely be based on what pick you're drafting from, but some opportunities may arise given how unpredictable drafts can be. So what exactly should you do with the tight end position? The Duel is here to help.
When to Draft a Tight End in Fantasy Football
The standard answer to "when should I draft a tight end in fantasy football?" is, well, it depends. This position's scoring often pales in comparison to the likes of wide receivers and running backs, meaning managers will likely zero in on players from the latter two groups in early rounds. There's no denying, though, how having someone in TE1 contention can elevate a roster.
The 2021 season showed both sides of this debate. Travis Kelce disappointed as the TE2 in PPR scoring after being a late first- or early second-round pick, failing to give managers the return they were hoping for. Mark Andrews, meanwhile, exploded as a fourth-round selection in 2021, knocking Kelce off as the TE1. Anyone who nabbed Andrews at a value reaped the benefits. Andrews was on a whopping 20% of rosters (third-highest mark in the league) that made the fantasy championship in 2021, showcasing how a top-flight TE talent can change your season.
Heading into 2022 drafts, if you go for a TE early, then you must be confident in their ability to challenge for the scoring crown at that position. Kelce's average draft posiiton (ADP) of 13 overall this year means passing on top RBs like D'Andre Swift (ADP 14) and Alvin Kamara (ADP 15). Selecting Andrews around his ADP of 22 overall would result in missing out on Saquon Barkley (ADP 24) or Leonard Fournette (ADP 25).
That's why drafters may focus on RB/WR to begin their drafts before targeting the non-Kelce/Andrews tier of TEs. Kyle Pitts (ADP 33) and George Kittle (ADP 39) are both third-round talents that could be in the TE1 conversation, and they come at a slightly lesser cost. There's solid options like Darren Waller (ADP 44), Dalton Schultz (ADP 56), TJ Hockenson (ADP 64) and Dallas Goedert (ADP 73) that are dependable starters who won't break the bank in terms of draft capital.
The third approach is to disregard the position until late in the draft. With only 12 tight ends starting in most fantasy leagues, the position doesn't exactly dry up in drafts the way that running back or wide receiver might.
Guys like Zach Ertz (ADP 90), Dawson Knox (ADP 96), Pat Freiermuth (ADP 110) or Mike Gesicki (ADP 111) are going in the back half of drafts and could very well become solid weekly contributors. And with a late-round pick at the position, you're not overly tied to keeping them around if you notice a better option on the waiver wire early in the season.
How Many TEs to Draft in Fantasy Football? Should You Draft a Backup?
Ideally, managers will start one tight end throughout the entire season (aside from their bye week). As a result, a backup tight end would be a waste of a precious roster spot. Managers should fill their bench up with handcuff RBs or sleeper WRs given how much more important those positions are on a weekly basis.
Fantasy Football TE Strategy
So to summarize, here are some key things to remember about drafting tight ends in fantasy football:
- Drafting one early means missing out on premium talent at RB/WR
- If you do draft one early, make sure you're confident in their ability to challenge for TE1
- Solid starters are available in the middle rounds if you want to focus on other positions
- Don't waste a bench spot on a backup tight end
And if you're doing more prep for your draft, be sure to check out some of The Duel's other fantasy football resources too:
- Fantasy Football Rankings
- 10 Best Fantasy Football Sleepers to Win Your League
- 60 Best Fantasy Football Team Names
- Best Draft Position for Fantasy Football
- Fantasy Football Sleeper TEs
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Isaiah De Los Santos is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Isaiah De Los Santos also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username zayyy05328. 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.