2022 TE Strategy Guide
High-end TE production is rare — at least in terms of how many guys are difference-makers.
As for the quality of top TEs… there’s plenty of appeal. In fact, since 2014, the 2 highest scoring overall TE1 finishes have surfaced over the past 2 seasons: Mark Andrews (297.1 PPR points) and Travis Kelce (312.6).
Last year, Andrews provided a 138.1-point edge over the TE12 (Noah Fant). In 2020, Kelce supplied a whopping 167.8-point advantage over TE12 Hunter Henry. The Chief doubled up Henry in points per game; Andrews fell a bit shy of that mark vs. Fant.
You simply won’t see that type of margin at QB, RB or WR.
But even comparing the position’s scoring leader vs. a low-end starter (assuming a 12-team league) isn’t apples to apples. At TE, there’s generally only a handful of locked-in weekly starters.
Nobody — minus the one guy that quit your league in Week 4 — started Fant or Henry every week...
So you stream TEs, right? It’s simple…
Even the mid-tier guys have their warts. Dawson Knox was a 2021 breakout, but a lack of volume led to 5 weekly finishes outside the top-20 TEs. Another breakout — Dalton Schultz — posted 4 such games.
Heck, even George Kittle finished 5 games outside the top-20 scoring TEs (and ended another right at 20th).
It’s a reminder that TDs are a true difference-maker at the TE position, and it’s due to a relative lack of volume. In 2021, only 10 TEs saw 90+ targets; 6 handled 100+. For comparison, 40 WRs saw 90+ targets last year; 34 garnered 100+.
Ultimately, streaming TEs will be inevitable for around half of the participants in a 12-team league. We'll get to the guys to know there, but first, let's dig into the flashier names...
Our 2022 TE projections have Travis Kelce far ahead of the pack…
Mark Andrews is in a tier of his own; Kyle Pitts and Darren Waller form another.
On average, all of those guys — plus George Kittle — come off the board within the first 4.5 rounds of drafts. So you’ll need to make a choice on selecting a set-it-and-forget-it TE and passing up a potentially elite RB/WR.
Part of the equation simply comes down to who’s available — and that’s why our Draft War Room is so powerful. (It’ll do the complicated math for you.) Your starting lineup requirements make a huge difference, too. For example, a league that starts 3 WRs (vs. 2) will add value to those WRs.
From this first group, we’re most likely to target Pitts. He's an enticing pick late in the 3rd and into the 4th given what he put on tape as a 20/21-year-old rookie. His TDs are a virtual lock to rise after scoring only once in 2021.
Darren Waller sits only 3 PPR points behind but has a ceiling projection ~16 points shy of Pitts.
You’ll notice that George Kittle doesn’t rank among the high-end options. He’s currently our TE6 behind a go-to target in the next section. While Kittle could pop any year because of his true talent, his target competition, QB volatility and injury risk remains high.
Dallas Goedert and… Dallas Goedert
The Philly TE shows up 5th in our ranks. His ADP is 8.01.
Kittle’s behind him, but as we discussed, he’s not a priority target in the 4th.
TE7 Dalton Schultz goes ~1.5 rounds earlier than Goedert and projects for 7 fewer PPR points. He’s relatively safe. He's just not someone we’re psyched to draft at cost.
TE8 T.J. Hockenson enters year 4 having flashed across all 3 seasons. He's a fine pick in summer drafts. But his target competition is at an all-time high. And he's going a round (and change) ahead of Goedert.
TE9 Zach Ertz goes in the late-8th and deserves some consideration. While there might be decline risk, the veteran should see plenty of early-season opportunities with DeAndre Hopkins suspended for 6 games.
You get the theme. Goedert combines ideal age, 2021 efficiency and 2022 opportunity (finally out of Ertz’s shadow) to become something close to a weekly fantasy starter. An injury to either A.J. Brown — who’s had his durability struggles — or DeVonta Smith (who’s already sidelined with a groin injury) would lift the lid off Goedert’s upside.
What about the Eagles’ run-heavy offense, you ask? Well, with the addition of Brown and another season of experience for Jalen Hurts, we’re expecting more pass volume. Current projections have Goedert alongside 6 other TEs in the exclusive 100-target club.
OK — imagine this: It’s Round 10. Studs like Kelce and Pitts didn’t make sense inside the first 3 rounds. Goedert — painfully — was stolen from you in the 8th.
Some goofball drafts Ertz with Mark Andrews already rostered…
You chill. You continue letting the Draft War Room be your guide. And you zero in on these names (ranked in order of DS projection):
Evan Engram, Jaguars (ADP: 15.10)
Hold your jokes, please.
Engram’s drops are well-documented — I know. He’s even struggled with them through stretches of training camp. Per team insider John Shipley, though, Engram’s “picked up his game” in recent practices.
We love the move out of New York and into a better offensive environment -- with superior QB play. Jacksonville showed they believe in an Engram rebound by handing him a 1-year deal with $8.25 million guaranteed. Don't be surprised if he finishes top-3 on this team in targets.
Irv Smith, Vikings (ADP: 12.10)
It’s been a rough stretch for Smith. He missed all of last season with a meniscus injury that required surgery. Then ~2 weeks ago, he underwent thumb surgery.
The good news is that Smith's knee is back to 100%. And, according to the team, he should be back from the thumb for Week 1. He generated some offseason hype from new HC Kevin O’Connell, who’s called the 4th-year pro a “major part” of the offense. Entering a contract season, Smith could sneak up on 90 targets given the squad’s lack of WR depth.
Albert Okwuegbunam, Broncos (ADP: 14.09)
In Okwuegbunam, you’re getting an untraditional, uber-athletic guy who can play all over the formation. He should pick up some of the targets left by WR Tim Patrick (torn ACL).
Mix in a massive QB upgrade and some early injury troubles for rookie TE Greg Dulcich, and it’s easy to see Albert O popping in the TD department.
Browns TE David Njoku would carry some appeal if Deshaun Watson’s suspension remains at 6 games. But a longer suspension would put a serious dent into Njoku's ceiling outcome. (Jimmy Garoppolo, anyone?)
One final note: If you landed one of the elites, or at least someone with weekly-starter potential (say, a top-9 guy) … don’t bother drafting a TE2. If you’re rolling with Knox on down, though, consider grabbing TE insurance with a later pick — especially in 12+ team leagues.