Historically speaking, it’s fairly rare that we get more than a couple of fantasy-relevant tight ends from one draft class. We had Jason Witten and Dallas Clark in 2003. Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham in 2010. Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz in 2012. George Kittle and Evan Engram in 2017. And then 2018, possibly the deepest class we’ve seen, gave us Mark Andrews, Dallas Goedert, Dalton Schultz, and Mike Gesicki. The 2023 NFL draft class of rookie tight ends could end up being one of these classes.
2023 Dynasty Fantasy Football NFL Rookie Tight End Rankings
Now that the dust has settled, it’s our job to sort things out for your dynasty rookie drafts. We’ve already done our rookie dynasty wide receiver rankings, our running back rankings, and our quarterback rankings. Now it’s time for my favorite position - our rookie dynasty tight end rankings. So let’s get to it.
We’ve got a guy here that looks like a wide receiver on tape. He was drafted to a team that has an in-line tight end in Dawson Knox that will probably use him as their slot wide receiver. And we can start him at a TE spot in fantasy. Oh, and they drafted him in the first round of the NFL draft. I’m looking at Kincaid in the first round of my dynasty drafts in all formats. If you want a more in-depth look about why we love Kincaid, check out our pre-draft tight end breakdown where we had him at TE1.
We were high on Sam LaPorta for a lot of the same reasons we were high on Dalton Kincaid. In his last year of college he broke TWENTY tackles. He’s a YAC machine. Not only is he immediately the best tight end on the Lions but, with Jameson Williams suspended, he should get a lot of run at wide receiver. He was the second tight end drafted in the NFL draft and he’s the second tight end we are drafting in dynasty.
Michael Mayer is also immediately the best tight end on his team in the NFL, where he should start right away. There are two main differences from Mayer to Kincaid/LaPorta. One is that he is more of a “two way” tight end in that he’s likely to spend a lot of time in-line blocking. The other is the target competition. A guy like Mayer with speed in the 4.7 range (like Zach Ertz or Hunter Henry) is that he needed a LOT of targets to have upside. With Davante Adams, Hunter Renfrow, and Jakobi Meyers over there, we might need to wait a couple years for his window of opportunity to open.
We weren’t super high on Musgrave in our pre-draft tight end write-ups. And that’s mostly because he was a “mystery box” who didn’t play much, didn’t produce much, didn’t break many tackles etc. But on draft day he got both great draft capital and a great landing spot. So with this guy we have to have some faith in the NFL evaluators. The athleticism is there (he’s an award-winning skier, for instance) and the slot role could be there so he’s a guy that we’re actually drafting in three round rookie dynasty drafts, unlike a lot of these guys.
Let me tell you a story. In 2018, the Ravens took an athletic “mystery box” tight end in the first round who had spent time playing another sport (baseball) before returning to football. Then, in the third round they double tapped tight end with a safer guy who looked more like a “two way” tight end prospect. The first guy they took was Hayden Hurst and the second guy they took was Mark Andrews. If this situation sounds familiar, it’s because it is. Aaron Jones was drafted behind Jamaal Williams in the same draft. Allen Robinson behind Marquise Lee. I’m not necessarily drafting him but certainly keeping my eye on him. If I have Musgrave and can sneak Kraft into a taxi squad or bench spot, I’d feel pretty good about that. One of them will be the pass catching tight end for Green Bay because they have no one.
After the first couple guys I’m just stashing the most athletic players. That’s how we ended up with George Kittle in a lot of spots despite him being a fifth round pick. We love Chigoziem Okonkwo for dynasty as well but he was only a rookie last year himself so you never know for sure how these competitions shake out. Again, unless it’s a really deep league or tight end premium, I’m probably just waiting until after the rookie draft to see who I can stash for free.
Same sentiment as Josh Whyle above. This guy ran the fastest forty time of any tight end at the combine. He’s elusive in space and he can find creases at the end of plays to get extra yards. He could end up making guys like Mo Alie-Cox and Jelani Woods look clunky in comparison, in which case he carves out a decent role. Stash him if you can just to see.
This is a pick I’m probably only making in a league with 2 TE spots or tight end premium. Because his profile combined with the target competition in Dallas really doesn’t seem like it will translate to a tight end who can be top 5-6 which is all we care about in normal dynasty leagues with one TE spot. He did get the draft capital because he’s a very “safe” player but he’s just not a very exciting one - as we wrote about here.
Again, we did not love Strange before this because he doesn’t seem like an explosive option for fantasy. He was drafted in the second round at pick 61 but a guy like Drew Sample was picked at 52 in 2019 to be a blocking tight end. Again, he’s more of a pick you make in a league where everyone is starting multiple tight ends. Otherwise, don’t bother.
This is the biggest slide from our pre-draft rankings and a lot of that is due to his slide in the draft. He fell all the way to TE8. And he also landed behind an established pass-catching tight end in Pat Freiermuth. Steeelers brass said that he “probably has sixth offensive lineman” on his license plate then he put this on his Instagram - does that sound good for fantasy?
Cameron Latu was impressive at times on film but his production was not high end. It’s always tough to sort that out with Alabama guys because their offense is so loaded. He now goes to San Francisco where he can attempt to be the “heir apparent” to George Kittle but we’re going to have to wait on it. Good draft capital in the third round at least.
12. Zack Kuntz, New York Jets
This is the definition of “stashing a guy based solely on athleticism”. His RAS score of 10 is the highest you can get. But he fell to the 7th round. He’s a work in progress that could develop into an athletic specimen. Or he could be the next Kenny Yeboah.
We loved the IDEA of Elijah Higgins. A college wide receiver who would convert to tight end and play a ton of “big slot” at the next level. His best comp in that case would be Juwan Johnson and he said he had been watching Evan Engram. But then he fell to the sixth round and, even worse, landed with the Miami Dolphins. The Dolphins use a fullback on 40% of snaps which really doesn’t leave a full time role for a guy like this - he’s more likely to play the 35% snap share that Mike Gesicki was playing. If he can earn that role. We’re still going to stash just in case where we can.
Not a bad landing spot with the Los Angeles Rams considering Tyler Higbee is a free agent next year. But he’s painfully slow and his best asset is really his height where he can high-point balls. I see him being fairly touchdown-dependent even if he starts at some point with his 4.84 forty so more of a best ball guy.
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Related NFL Links:
- 2023 NFL Draft: First Round Winners and Losers for Fantasy Football
- 2023 NFL Draft: Second and Third Round Winners and Losers for Fantasy Football
- 2023 Fantasy Football: Best Ball Running Back Targets
- Dynasty Fantasy Football: 2023 NFL Rookie Wide Receiver Rankings
- 2023 NFL Draft Top Running Back Prospects: Bijan Robinson Highlights Incoming Rookie RB Class
- 2023 NFL Draft Running Back Prospects: Tank Bigsby Headlines the Rookie RB Sleepers