There are lots of arguments for having the NFL Draft take place prior to the start of unrestricted free agency. Similar to the lackluster group of free-agent wideouts, the 2023 Free Agent Rankings: Tight Ends is sorely lacking.
However, from a fantasy perspective, it is always good to be prepared for roster turnover. Here are our 2022 free agent rankings: tight ends.
|Irv Smith Jr.||MIN||25||25||182||2|
There aren’t many landing spots for Dalton Schultz that won’t be a downgrade. Schultz has built up a solid rapport with QB Dak Prescott. The result has been three consecutive top-10 fantasy campaigns for the soon-to-be 27-year-old. Should he re-sign with the Cowboys, Schultz remains a solid TE1 with top-5 upside.
Evan Engram is annually overlooked. Engram capitalized on his one-year deal with the Jaguars and posted top-5 PPR numbers in 2022. However, it was only Engram’s fourth-best outing from a points-per-game perspective. Should the veteran tight end land with a QB1, expect Engram to be a solid value once again. He should be able to earn about $10 million annually on the open market.
Miami’s new offense didn’t do Mike Gesicki any favors. Gesicki posted his worst numbers since his 2018 rookie campaign. As a result, he won’t earn anywhere near the franchise tag deal ($10.9m) he played under in 2022. But in the right offense, Gesicki can still be a solid downfield option.
Speaking of forgettable 2022 showings, Irv Smith Jr. spent half the season on IR with an ankle injury. Smith commanded a lot of sleeper interest last offseason. However, the acquisition of T.J. Hockenson assures that Smith will have to play elsewhere. The 24-year-old is just about to enter his prime and can still be a solid fantasy TE2.
Let’s call Hayden Hurst a fringe NFL starter. In two of his five seasons, Hurst has been solid. Both of those showings came playing the majority of reps in the first year of a new system. Ideally, re-signing with the Bengals would work best for Hurst’s 2023 prospects. However, Hurst should attract plenty of attention from other NFL squads.
The lack of depth in this free-agent class is evident when you peruse the second tier of available free agents. Austin Hooper can fill in as needed. He might sign a one-year “prove it” deal but Hooper will have trouble generating top-20 fantasy numbers even if he was a starter.
Robert Tonyan will always have that glorious 2020 season. Even in a 2022 Green Bay offense desperate for pass catchers, Tonyan had a career-low 8.9 yards per target and only caught 2 touchdowns. If Tonyan can’t be a reliable option with Aaron Rodgers under center, he is not a player to be targeted on draft day.
The sleeper of this group is Foster Moreau. Still just 25, Moreau had seven games with 3-plus grabs and filled in nicely for the injured Darren Waller. Moreau flashed enough to draw some interest around the league as a potential starter.
This next group of veterans is unlikely to attract much attention as starters. Therefore, their fantasy potential is very limited. Some can be decent NFL contributors but are only fantasy-relevant in the deepest of leagues.
Best of the Rest
Most of these veterans will find work but are well off the fantasy radar. Even in the deepest of dynasty formats.
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