Tight Ends That Can Enter the Elite Tier in Fantasy Football
So before I start talking about the tight ends that can enter the elite tier in fantasy football we have to define what the elite tier is. I have three tight ends in my elite tier and they are Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, and George Kittle. Darren Waller was in this tier last year but after a disappointing 2021 and the Raiders adding Davante Adams he has fallen down a tier. All three of the tight ends I have in this tier averaged over 14 fantasy points per game and Andrews even averaged 17.7. The next closest TE to them, that is still in the league, was Dalton Schultz who averaged 12.3 fantasy points per game.
At the top of the elite tier sit Mark Andrews and Travis Kelce. Andrews has averaged over 12 fantasy points a game for the past three seasons. His most recent season though is what puts him into the elites, after putting up 1361 receiving yards on 153 targets, 107 receptions, and 9 touchdowns. He also made the All-Pro first team and led all TEs in fantasy points.
Kelce on the other hand has six consecutive seasons of 1,000+ receiving yards and has been elite since 2016. His consistency is pretty ridiculous considering he was the TE1 in fantasy from 2016-2020 and last season he was the TE2. He has not averaged under 15 fantasy points a game since 2016 and barring injury, he should continue to be an elite fantasy TE.
The last TE in this elite tier is George Kittle. I was torn on whether to include Kittle or not, but it’s hard to argue against someone who in their last healthy season put up 1377 yards on 136 targets, 88 receptions, and 5 touchdowns. He has not played a full season since then, and because of that, his fantasy value has dropped drastically in most people’s eyes. While I agree he is not the same player he was in 2018, he has still averaged over 15.5 fantasy points per game since 2018.
Now, what separates these TEs from the other great ones in fantasy football? There are two different reasons why I have these specific players in my elite tier. First is their ridiculous consistency, all three of these TEs have been within the top 5 TEs in fantasy scoring per game for the last three seasons, and some for much longer. Additionally, they have the highest ceilings as there is no active NFL TE outside of this group that has finished as the TE1 in fantasy football.
Kyle Pitts (TE) – Atlanta Falcons
There are some people that would argue Pitts is already in the elite tier of TEs, but for me, he is just too young and hasn’t done enough in the NFL to be in that tier. I mean how can you put a player who only has one NFL TD in the elite tier with guys who have 50+ touchdowns. With that being said, Pitts already looks like a generational tight end becoming the second rookie TE to eclipse 1000 yards, and even breaking Julio Jones’s franchise rookie receiving record. Pitts ranked third in the NFL at TE in receiving yards (1,108) and route participation (80%). He ranked first in yards per reception (15.1) and second in air yards (1188) and air yards share (28.3%).
Why Kyle Pitts will be a fantasy cheat code for years to come:
✅ 78% of snaps lined out wide or in slot (1st among TEs per PFF)
✅ 1188 air yards in 2021 (2nd)
✅ 11.2 ADOT (1st), 4th in TE routes run, 4.44 forty, 2.7 pass block %.
Really just a WR who qualifies as a TE. pic.twitter.com/W4ur6SuPbv
— Kyle Lindemann (@LuckIsMadeFF) July 5, 2022
His numbers should only improve next season as the Falcons will be without their top WR, Calvin Ridley, and lost their leading receiver from last season, Russell Gage, in free agency. As I mentioned before Pitts only scored one touchdown last season, but according to PFFs expected fantasy points model, he should have scored 5.6 touchdowns. With positive regression in that area coming in 2022, he has legitimate potential to finish as the TE1. The concern for many people when drafting him is his quarterback Marcus Mariota, but when he played with Delanie Walker, who is not nearly as talented as Pitts, he finished as the TE2, TE5, and TE4 from 2015-2017.
Dalton Schultz (TE) – Dallas Cowboys
Dalton Schultz had a breakout season in 2022 seeing 104 targets, 78 receptions, 808 receiving yards, and 8 touchdowns. He finished as PFFs sixth highest-graded TE (78.2) and was top five in route participation (77%) and overall routes run (586). Schultz has the highly coveted role of the TE1 in a high-powered offense that ranked fourth last season in passing attempts. They also had the most passing attempts in the league for the last 3 weeks at 44.7 a game. Since 2020 only Travis Kelce, Mark Andrews, and Darren Waller have scored more points at the tight end position.
With Dak Prescott’s trust firmly in hand, Amari Cooper on the Browns, and Michael Gallup recovering from a torn ACL, Schultz should be able to improve on his 16% target share from last season. He will be competing as the number two option in this offense with James Washington and Jalen Tolbert and should improve on his TE5 weekly finish from last season. Find where we have Schultz in our 2022 Fantasy Football tight end rankings.