1 of 5 | Kansas City Chiefs star Travis Kelce is my top fantasy football tight end for 2023. File Photo by Kyle Rivas/UPI | License Photo
MIAMI, Aug. 17 (UPI) -- Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews lead my Top 25 fantasy football tight end rankings for the 2023 NFL season. T.J. Hockenson, Dallas Goedert and Darren Waller also are among my other Top 5 selections.
Kyle Pitts, Dalton Kincaid, David Njoku, George Kittle and Tyler Higbee are inside my Top 10.
Selecting a tight end can be difficult after the elite options get drafted. I look for data on past production, expected role in offense, injury history, talent and more when considering which player is the best fit for my team.
I split my top tight end targets into five tiers: Hall of Fame, All-Pro, Pro Bowl, Just Napping (early to mid-round targets) and Deep Sleepers (mid- to late-round sleepers). The full rankings are below.
Hall of Fame
1. Travis Kelce, 2. Mark Andrews
Kelce already is one of the best tight ends in NFL history and is building on that legacy. The Kansas City Chiefs star just completed his seventh-consecutive season with at least 1,000 receiving yards. He averaged 127 targets and 90 catches per season since 2014, his first full season as a starter.
Kelce's average draft position is in the first round, meaning he likely won't end up on your team unless you are will to splurge with draft capital, but he is one of the safest options in fantasy football. Look for the four-time All-Pro to produce another stellar campaign as quarterback Patrick Mahomes' top target.
Andrews is another unquestionable TE1. The Baltimore Ravens veteran scorched defenses for a career-high 1,361 receiving yards in 2021. He logged 847 yards in 2022. I expect Andrews to get closer to 1,000 yards this season and find the end zone at least 10 times as part of what should be a more-lethal Ravens passing attack.
3. T.J. Hockenson, 4. Dallas Goedert
Hockenson is a player who can be targeted after the fifth round, which should result in crafting a more-balanced fantasy team, when compared to one that drafted Kelce or Andrews early on.
The Minnesota Vikings pass catcher, who joined the team in a trade last year from the Detroit Lions, excelled almost immediately after that move. Hockenson averaged six catches per game over his final 10 appearances with the Vikings.
He also logged more than 51 yards per game. I expect the tight end's production to be even better in 2023, with more experience catching passes from Kirk Cousins.
Opposing defenses likely will concentrate mostly on the Vikings' outside threats, in Justin Jefferson and rookie Jordan Addison, as well as fellow wide receiver K.J. Osborn.
That focus, paired with what I expect to be more dependance on the passing game, should lead to more opportunities for Hockenson. He is my No. 3 tight end and a great mid-round target if you play in a league that requires starting the position.
5. Darren Waller, 6. Kyle Pitts
Waller and Pitts share a seventh-round average draft position and both present great opportunties for prospective fantasy football stock owners.
Waller battled injuries in recent years, but should be in line to receive a lot of targets this season in the New York Giants offense. The Giants passing game needs a talented target leader and Waller, who received an average of nearly 100 targets per year over his last four seasons with the Las Vegas Raiders, should fill that role.
Look for the seven-year veteran to snag at least 75 catches for 800 yards and five touchdowns if he manages to stay on the field in 2023.
Pitts was targeted 110 times and logged 68 catches for 1,016 yards en route to Pro Bowl honors in 2021. He returned to provide 28 catches for 356 yards in 2022, before his season was cut short because of a knee injury.
Pitts said he was close to 100% healthy in July and is being eased back into action. His status should be watched leading into the season, but I still love his prospects if he is active for Week 1. I believe Pitts' athletic ability, paired with his expected role in the offense is only matched by Kelce and Andrews.
8. David Njoku, 13. Sam LaPorta
Njoku is among a cast of tight ends who possess great ability, but their team role could cap opportunity and production.
The Cleveland Browns selected the 6-foot-4 pass catcher in the first round of the 2017 NFL Draft. Injuries and a revolving door of new coaches and quarterbacks likely hindered his production through his first six seasons.
A full season with quarterback Deshaun Watson should provide an overall boost for the Browns offense, including Njoku. I can see this playmaker totaling at least 60 catches for 700 yards and seven touchdowns if he stays on the field.
The Lions snagged Laporta in the second round of the 2023 NFL Draft. Following Hockenson's trade to the Vikings, the Lions now will look to this rookie to boost their passing game, alongside star wide receiver Amon-Ra St. Brown.
Suspensions and injuries to the Lions cast of pass catchers should open up a lot of opportunties for this rookie. He likely can't be depended on as an every-week starter, but is worth a late-round pick in leagues that require starting tight ends.
18. Irv Smith, 22. Jake Ferguson
Smith and Ferguson also likely can't be depended on for weekly production, but should carve out roles in their respective offenses.
Smith, who joined the Cincinnati Bengals this off-season in free agency, didn't receive a ton of targets through his first three seasons with the Vikings, but scored nine touchdowns over that stretch while sharing work with other tight ends and catching passes from Cousins.
Now he will join an offensive cast that includes quarterback Joe Burrow and wide receivers Ja'Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, among others. I expect Burrow to lead the league in touchdown passes in one of the most prolific offenses in the NFL.
Smith should capitalize on relentless red zone trips by reaching a career high in touchdown catches. I expect the veteran tight end to log at least eight scores this season, giving him very high upside.
Ferguson appears in line to start in the Dallas Cowboys offense, playing alongside star playmakers Dak Prescott, CeeDee Lamb and Tony Pollard.
I expect this Cowboys offense to be on the field a lot and Ferguson should benefit from his opportunities. The fourth-round pick in the 2022 NFL Draft has terrific size, at 6-foot-4, 244 pounds, and showed the benefit of that length in the preseason.
Cowboys coach Mike McCarthy recently praised the young tight end for his toughness and ability to block, which should keep him on the field.
Ferguson could be a great draft selection -- and rotational fantasy starter -- if you are in a league with at least 14 teams that requires starting tight ends.
Top 25 Fantasy Football Tight end Rankings for 2023
1. Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs, Bye Week 10
2. Mark Andrews, Baltimore Ravens, Bye Week 13
3. T.J. Hockenson, Minnesota Vikings, Bye Week 13
4. Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles, Bye Week 10
5. Darren Waller, New York Giants, Bye Week 13
6. Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons, Bye Week 11
7. Dalton Kincaid, Buffalo Bills, Bye Week 13
8. David Njoku, Cleveland Browns, Bye Week 5
9. George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers, Bye Week 9
10. Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams, Bye Week 10
11. Evan Engram, Jacksonville Jaguars, Bye Week 9
12. Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers, Bye Week 6
13. Sam LaPorta, Detroit Lions, Bye Week 9
14. Greg Dulcich, Denver Broncos, Bye Week 9
15. Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears, Bye Week 13
16. Juwan Johnson, New Orleans Saints, Bye Week 11
17. Dalton Schultz, Houston Texans, Bye Week 7
18. Irv Smith, Cincinnati Bengals, Bye Week 7
19. Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Chargers, Bye Week 5
20. Hayden Hurst, Carolina Panthers, Bye Week 7
21. Luke Musgrave, Green Bay Packers, Bye Week 6
22. Jake Ferguson, Dallas Cowboys, Bye Week 7
23. Taysom Hill, New Orleans Saints, Bye Week 11
24. Chigoziem Okonkwo, Tennessee Titans, Bye Week 7
25. Zach Ertz, Arizona Cardinals, Bye Week 14