It’s not easy to identify the top TEs to draft in fantasy football year after year. While players like Travis Kelce make it seem like it’s a simple task, the TE position is one of the most difficult to project each season.
However, if you can find that breakout TE, it’s a game-changer for your fantasy lineup. Not only can it help push your roster over the top week in and week out, but it’s a major stress relief not to have to go hunting on the waiver wire every Tuesday evening for someone that may see four or five targets!
With that in mind, we do the research here at Pro Football Network to help you dominate your fantasy football league. Here are my seven must-have TEs to draft in 2023.
Top TEs To Draft in Fantasy Football in 2023
It would be easy for me to compile a list saying to draft Mark Andrews and Kelce in 2023, wouldn’t it? Anyone can do that, but it’s not exactly helpful for you to take into your fantasy football draft.
The following players are ones that are located through almost every round of ADP (Average Draft Position), which allows you to deploy different strategies if you’d like and find players well down the draft board.
Cade Otton, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Otton is currently going off the board as the TE34 in Underdog Fantasy’s ADP. This means that you have to reach for Otton even in the deepest of formats this season.
It doesn’t quite make sense why Otton is so far down draft boards in 2023. He showed incredibly positive things in his rookie season and proved that he can be a trustworthy target for Tom Brady over the middle of the field.
This play will be known as the first big play of a great Buccaneer career. Cade Otton is TE1 for the foreseeable future. pic.twitter.com/lvNXmiyK6N
— JC Cornell (@CornellNFL) November 7, 2022
Yes, the offense experienced a significant downgrade at QB this offseason, but a reliable TE in the short passing game just may be what Baker Mayfield or Kyle Trask are looking for this year vs. trying to air it out deep downfield to someone like Mike Evans.
Otton has a ceiling to his fantasy output this season due to the state of the offense, but he’s the lead option in this TE room, and he should easily see 5-6 targets a week. That’s someone worth rostering at the TE position.
Hunter Henry, New England Patriots
Henry may get the chance to put up top-12 production in this New England Patriots offense in 2023.
Bill O’Brien has proven to be able to get the most out of the TE position in the past, and Henry is the lead option in this offense now that Jonnu Smith was traded to Atlanta this offseason.
Mike Gesicki is simply on a one-year rental in this offense, and reports coming out of New England haven’t exactly been glowing about the athletic TE. Henry appears to have this job locked up at the time of writing, and he’s going off the board as the TE27 is currently in Underdog Fantasy drafts.
Hayden Hurst, Carolina Panthers
Don’t laugh, but there’s a legitimate possibility that Hurst leads this team in targets by the end of the season.
With plenty of unknowns at the WR position because of players like Adam Thielen, DJ Chark, and a rookie in Jonathan Mingo, Hurst could become Bryce Young’s favorite target right out of the gate.
The scoring upside may not be present in 2023 due to a rookie QB, but 100 targets for the veteran TE is not out of the realm of possibilities. He’s worth targeting at his TE26 ADP on Underdog Fantasy right now.
Jake Ferguson, Dallas Cowboys
While not a superior athlete, Dalton Schultz was on the fantasy radar the past couple of seasons due to his opportunity in this Cowboys offense. Give him his credit; he was super productive and was a reliable fantasy asset week in and week out.
The veteran TE has now moved on to Houston, though, and there’s a gaping hole left on this depth chart because of it. All signs currently point to Ferguson being the next man up to inherit that role.
We didn’t see a ton from him in his rookie season, but what we did was encouraging. With Luke Schoonmaker battling an injury, Ferguson has reportedly stepped in comfortably to the TE1 role, and that was evidenced by his usage in the first week of the preseason.
With a TE24 price tag in Underdog Fantasy drafts, Ferguson is worth throwing a dart at late to see how things shake out.
Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams
Did you know that Higbee saw the fourth-most targets in the entire NFL at the TE position last season? Yes, it’s true that they were not high-quality targets, and he had an abysmal average depth of target (just 3.2) in 2022, but targets are hard to come by at fantasy football’s most volatile position.
Heading into 2023, Higbee’s easily the No. 2 receiving option in this Rams offense that projects to be on the field quite a bit this year. With a TE14 ADP, fantasy managers can wait out everyone else in their league and scoop up the veteran TE that should see anywhere from 6-8 targets a week in the final round.
David Njoku, Cleveland Browns
Njoku’s been on fantasy managers’ radars for years now, but he has yet to truly meet expectations in this Cleveland offense. However, last year we started to see signs of the potential that we’ve all been yearning for.
As Deshaun Watson started to get his sea legs back underneath him over the last eight weeks of the season, Njoku reeled in seven receptions in the red zone, which was the most among all TEs.
There’s a significant chance that Njoku finally breaks out in a major way this year. With very little competition at the TE position in this offense, Njoku can soak up targets in an offense that should be a top-15 unit in 2023. If Watson can rebound in a big way, Njoku has top-three upside at the position.
T.J. Hockenson, Minnesota Vikings
Hockenson was shipped off from Detroit halfway through the 2022 NFL season, and he quickly developed chemistry with Kirk Cousins, despite barely knowing the offense. It’s surprising just how productive the young TE was given the circumstances!
Hockenson reeled in 5.1 receptions per game last season, which was the second-highest mark in the entire NFL at the position. And that doesn’t seem to be a trend that’s going to slow down any time soon.
With Thielen leaving for Carolina this offseason, Hockenson has the inside track to be the No. 2 receiving threat for an offense that averaged 40 pass attempts per game last season. If that trend continues — which there’s a strong possibility that it might — we could see a monstrous season incoming for the former top-10 NFL Draft pick.
Fantasy managers are accounting for this potential, though, as evidenced by his TE3 ADP. If you want to secure Hockenson in your fantasy football league this season, you’re going to have to pay up.