Congratulations, folks! We’ve made it! After months of waiting, fantasy football draft season is upon us. After spending the past four months analyzing, assessing, and curating my rankings, I’ve settled on a handful of “my guys.” Here are the top three TEs I am not trying to leave any fantasy draft without.
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Top TEs To Draft in Fantasy Football in 2023
Every year is different. Some years, there are only a couple of guys at a particular position I really like. Other years, there are a bunch. So, the number in the article title will likely be different each year and for each position.
This year, I have three TEs going in various parts of fantasy drafts that I don’t want to leave without. I’ve listed them in ADP order.
Darren Waller, New York Giants (ADP: TE6)
I’ve been on the Darren Waller train ever since he joined the Raiders. I’m not getting off now! I went down with the Waller ship in 2021 and again in 2022. Once more into the fray!
It’s been three years since Waller’s 17.4 PPR fantasy points per game, overall TE2 finish. I’m not saying that guy can return this year … but I’m not saying he can’t.
Waller certainly didn’t play as well in the past two seasons. However, his 2021 struggles were largely due to the lack of touchdowns. Then, last season, he appeared in just eight full games, dealing with a variety of issues.
By all accounts, Waller is fully healthy now. I do not believe he is injury-prone. Prior to 2021, he had played two full seasons without missing a game.
Giants GM Joe Schoen knew the team needed an alpha WR1. Since none were available, he went and got the next best thing — Waller. That is what Waller is in New York to do — be the team’s top pass catcher. And that is exactly what I expect him to be.
Waller is my TE4, and I have half a mind to bump him up ahead of T.J. Hockenson to my TE3. I am targeting Waller anywhere and everywhere in 2023 fantasy drafts.
Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams (ADP: TE16)
TE16! Tyler Higbee and the Rams’ offense had an incredibly down year in 2022. Yet, he still finished as the TE15.
The hardest thing to find at the tight end position is volume. Higbee commanded a 20.9% target share last season, fourth in the league. He saw over 100 targets. In the absence of a viable WR2, and with Cooper Kupp missing half the season, Higbee was targeted on 24.9% of his routes run, sixth in the league.
Higbee is not going to blow anyone away with efficiency, but he’s a proven producer and a reliable set of hands.
Most importantly, the Rams don’t have a viable WR2 on the roster. Beyond Kupp, they have a cavalcade of guys who shouldn’t be more than WR3s or WR4s on NFL rosters.
Matthew Stafford is back healthy, as is Kupp. If they can stay on the field, this offense will be much improved. At worst, Higbee will be the high TE2 he was last season. At best, he will provide more value than a streamer at the cost of absolutely free. Higbee is being drafted at his floor.
Higbee was one of just six TEs to post a 30-point fantasy week. If I don’t get Waller, Higbee is the guy I’m targeting.
30+ point PPR performances by a TE last season:
TJ Hockenson: 39.9
Evan Engram: 39.2
Travis Kelce: 35.5
Taysom Hill: 34.1
Tyler Higbee: 30.4
George Kittle: 30 pic.twitter.com/Rs9BukMZq3
— Top Fantasy Plays (@TopFantasyPlays) August 10, 2023
Juwan Johnson, New Orleans Saints (ADP: TE20)
In the interest of full disclosure, I struggled to find a third name for this list. So, Juwan Johnson isn’t fully one of “my guys.” But I do like him.
If I find myself in a situation where I’ve really waited too long on tight end — I missed out on Waller, Higbee is gone, and even Gerald Everett was taken — then I’m looking to Johnson.
Once you get past the top tight ends, pretty much every TE is touchdown-or-bust. Johnson has been a touchdown-scoring machine his entire career.
In 2021, he scored four times on just 22 targets. Last season, he scored seven touchdowns on 65 targets.
Johnson’s performance earned him a contract extension. He is now the Saints’ clear TE1. Given that he started the first preseason game with the starters and Taysom Hill didn’t enter the fold until the backups were in, I believe Johnson is going to at least see a 75% snap share this season.
Derek Carr provides the Saints with a QB upgrade. We’ve seen Carr turn Waller into a top-tier TE. If he can just make Johnson a back-end TE1, that will be well worth it.
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