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Fantasy football rankings 2022: Top 15 TEs in your draft

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Travis Kelce

The retirement (for now) of Rob Gronkowski signals the end of an era for one of the most dominant tight ends in NFL history.

It also ushers in a new era at the position that's a little more egalitarian.

In recent years, the fantasy football tight end landscape has been defined by the "haves" and the "have nots:" Studs like Travis Kelce, Gronk and Darren Waller put up wide receiver-like numbers, while the rest of the league's tight ends struggle to stay fantasy-relevant based on how often they find the end zone.

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But as the NFL becomes more pass-happy, more tight ends are operating like full-time wide receivers: Six tight ends tallied at least 70 receptions in 2021, compared to just three five years ago. So, who's in this new group of high-volume tight ends, and when should you consider drafting them?

Here are our rankings of the top 15 tight ends in fantasy football for the 2022 season, assuming a half-point PPR (0.5 fantasy points per reception) scoring system.

2022 Fantasy Football tight end rankings
USA TODAY Sports

1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs (Bye Week: 8)

Mark Andrews ended Kelce's three-year streak as the highest-scoring tight end in fantasy football last season. But with at least 90 catches and 1,100 yards in four consecutive seasons, Kelce is by far the safest bet at the position. He's a virtual lock for borderline WR1 production and could see an uptick in targets following Tyreek Hill's departure. He's worth the second-round pick.

Projected draft round: Second

2. Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens (Bye Week: 10)

Andrews had never topped 60 catches or 900 yards in a season before exploding for 107 and 1,361 in 2021. We should probably expect a slight aberration, but Andrews is still the focal point of Baltimore's passing attack with a knack for finding the end zone (26 TDs in the past three seasons). Don't overthink it.

 

Projected draft round: Third

3. Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons (Bye Week: 14)

Pitts mustered 1,026 receiving yards as a rookie on a rudderless Falcons team that finished tied for 25th in the NFL in receiving touchdowns. Marcus Mariota isn't exactly an upgrade over Matt Ryan, but rookie Desmond Ridder has upside, and either QB should throw more than one touchdown to Pitts in 2022. The uber-athletic tight end is a lock for the top five if he can boost his TD numbers.

Projected draft round: Fourth

4. Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders (Bye Week: 6)

Josh McDaniels knows how to utilize talented tight ends. Just ask Rob Gronkowski or even Hunter Henry, who caught nine TD passes with the New England Patriots last season. Waller is no longer the No. 1 option in Las Vegas with Davante Adams in the mix, and he did miss five games last season due to injury. But we could easily see Waller flirting with 1,000 yards again now that McDaniels is calling the shots.

Projected draft round: Fifth

5. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers (Bye Week: 9)

Kittle is easily a top-three tight end when healthy. But the injury risk is why he fell to No. 5 in our rankings: The 28-year-old has missed 12 total games over the past three seasons. If he plays 17 games this season, then he'd be an absolute steal in the fourth or fifth round. You better have a backup plan, though.

Projected draft round: Fifth

6. Dalton Schultz, Dallas Cowboys (Bye Week: 9)

Schultz has solidified himself as Dak Prescott's top target behind CeeDee Lamb after amassing 808 receiving yards on 104 targets in 2021. With Amari Cooper out of the picture, he's a safe bet to see around 100 targets again in 2022. Schultz is a very solid option if you don't want to splurge on a top-tier tight end.

Projected draft round: Seventh

7. T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions (Bye Week: 6)

Hockenson has plenty of talent and has been targeted 185 times over the past two seasons. The question is whether Jared Goff's offense can function at a high enough level to give the fourth-year tight end a chance to put up legitimate numbers. At the very least, the Lions should be throwing a lot as they play catch-up, and Hockenson is one of their top overall weapons.

Projected draft round: Seventh

8. Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles (Bye Week: 9)

There's a reason the Eagles were willing to part with Zach Ertz: Goedert totaled 41 receptions and 614 yards in just 10 games after the Ertz trade. The addition of A.J. Brown means another mouth to feed in Philly, but it also could lead to more passing play calls, which should benefit Goedert. We wouldn't be shocked if he leads Philly in receptions in 2022.

Projected draft round: Eighth

9. Zach Ertz, Arizona Cardinals (Bye Week: 13)

Ertz hit his stride down the stretch with Arizona last season, averaging seven catches over the Cardinals' final four games -- all with DeAndre Hopkins sidelined. With Hopkins suspended for the first six games of 2022, Ertz seems like a safe bet for five catches per contest, which makes him a solid TE1, especially in half-PPR and full-PPR leagues.

 

Projected draft round: 10th

10. Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers (Bye Week: 9)

Freiermuth is plenty talented and was the second-best rookie tight end in the NFL last season behind Pitts. The question is whether you believe Mitchell Trubisky (or first-round pick Kenny Pickett) can be effective enough at quarterback to get him enough targets. Pittsburgh's offense has historically favored tight ends, so we're buying on Freiermuth's upside and giving him a spot in the top 10.

Projected draft round: 10th

11. Dawson Knox, Buffalo Bills (Bye Week: 7)

Among the four tight ends who caught nine touchdown passes last season (tops in the NFL at the position), Knox recorded the fewest catches (49) and yards (587). That's a long way of saying Knox was pretty touchdown-dependent in 2021 and could be in line for a regression after totaling five TDs in his previous two seasons. He's clearly a red zone threat, but expect him to drop out of the top 10.

Projected draft round: 11th

12. Hunter Henry, New England Patriots (Bye Week: 10)

Henry's 2021 stats were nearly identical to Knox's, so if you believe in Mac Jones' upside, you could make the case for him over Knox. So why rank Henry 12th? We're banking on fellow tight end Jonnu Smith playing more of a role after a quiet 2021 campaign and new wide receiver DeVante Parker cutting into some of Henry's red zone targets.

Projected draft round: 12th

13. Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins (Bye Week: 11)

Gesicki far exceeded career highs in targets (112) and receptions (73) last season and finished as the No. 11 tight end in fantasy. With superstar wide receiver Tyreek Hill joining 2021 first-round pick Jaylen Waddle in the Dolphins' receiving corps, Gesicki's target share is likely to dip, making him a tough sell as a TE1 in 10- or 12-team leagues.

Projected draft round: 13th

14. Noah Fant, Seattle Seahawks (Bye Week: 11)

Fant has recorded at least 60 catches and 600 yards in each of the last two seasons. That's pretty good. What isn't good is that Geno Smith is currently his starting quarterback. If the Seahawks land a player like Jimmy Garoppolo, then Fant should be on the TE1 radar. If Smith or Drew Lock is his QB in Week 1, look elsewhere.

Projected draft round: 13th

15. Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears (Bye Week: 14)

A lack of red zone production is the biggest knock on Kmet, who has two touchdowns in 33 career games. Perhaps new Bears offensive coordinator Bill Lazor can get his 23-year-old tight end more involved inside the 20-yard line; if so, Kmet is talented enough to morph into a starting-caliber fantasy tight end.

Projected draft round: 14th

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