When they say that the fantasy football season is a grind, THIS is what they are talking about. These weeks here prove why it’s so important to get out ahead and stay ahead. Folks that are 11-1 or 10-2 have the luxury of coasting into the playoffs here. Everyone else is scratching and clawing for a spot. There are SIX teams on bye this week with another two next week and wrapped up in all that are T.J. Hockenson, Dalton Kincaid, Trey McBride, Cole Kmet, Isaiah Likely, Logan Thomas, and Michael Mayer. I hope you planned ahead but, if not, we got you right here.


As a reminder, these rankings below are specific to a strategy called Yin & Yang Tight End. The full write up from this year is here but the short and sweet of the strategy is this - we wait on tight end and then draft two. Your Yin tight end is the safest possible player, even if they have capped upside, that we start over the short term. The Yang tight end is a bench stash with the highest risk, highest reward that we hope breaks out. We continue to cycle players through that bench spot until we find a guy we can start for the playoffs. With Standalone players, we only roster one and just worry about their bye week. And, because of that, the strategy doesn’t stop with the draft -  we keep it rolling each week. So, without further ado, here are the updated rankings. 

2023 Fantasy Football Ying Yang Tight End Rankings

Tight End
Travis Kelce
T.J. Hockenson
Sam LaPorta
Trey McBride
Evan Engram
George Kittle
Dallas GoedertDalton Kincaid
David NjokuIsaiah Likely
Pat FreiermuthDalton Schultz
Cole KmetTaysom Hill
Cade OttonLogan Thomas
Jake FergusonKyle Pitts
Juwan JohnsonHunter Henry
The Rest
Luke Musgrave
Darren Waller
Gerald Everett
Greg Dulcich
Jelani Woods
Michael Mayer
Tyler Conklin
Donald Parham
Noah Gray
Cole Turner
Charlie Kolar

Standalone Tier:

Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs

This is how good Travis Kelce is in fantasy football - someone asked me “if I was worried about Kelce” after back-to-back games with 15 PPR points. The answer is no.

T.J. Hockenson, Minnesota Vikings

We were a little concerned about the return of Justin Jefferson and now, after a rough Monday night game, there is this talk about the Vikings “evaluating the quarterback position” during the bye week. We don’t want a new QB. We don’t want change. We want Hockenson to keep doing what he’s doing. I’m confident he can and the reality is, Hock with any QB, even with JJ there, it probably better than anything else you are going to get. 

Sam LaPorta, Detroit Lions

With Mark Andrews done for the year, Sam LaPorta is probably the only other tight end who has an argument to be in that #2 spot behind Travis Kelce. He had a couple of “down weeks” with five targets but he bounced back nicely with eight targets and a touchdown while playing 73 snaps. 


Trey McBride, Arizona Cardinals

Very similar situation to Dalton Kincaid except his bye is next week. Much like Dawson Knox, if Zach Ertz were out for the year, we would likely have McBride right up there with Sam LaPorta. But, since he has the bye week anyway, we might as well take the conservative approach here and have another option available. At least with Kincaid, we might get to see a game with Knox back BEFORE the fantasy playoffs. There’s a real possibility that Ertz returns after the bye and we just have to go with our heart and start McBride.


*EDIT with the news that Zach Ertz was granted his release, Trey McBride is now standalone (will still need a fill-in for his bye week). And there was much rejoicing. 

Evan Engram, Jacksonville Jaguars

Evan Engram has been much better in PPR than half PPR and he might even be tough to start in standard. But he’s pretty consistently been a top-five tight end in route participation, target share, pass block rate, and wide receiver snaps. He leads all tight ends in screens. It’s hard to find someone with a much safer floor but he’s yet to score a touchdown this year so his ceiling leaves something to be desired. 

George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers

And here is a guy who is a bit of the opposite - big ceiling but the floor has been a little shaky. The reality with the 49ers is they use the fullback a ton so the touches are fairly highly consolidated among Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, Christian McCaffrey, and George Kittle. But we’d prefer if the touches were consolidated among only a couple guys like in the old days. In any given week Kittle can go off or, like we’ve seen a couple of times now, maybe it will be someone else’s time to shine. Over the last six weeks he has a 25.3% target share which is third behind only T.J. Hockenson and Trey McBride while also leading all viable tight ends with a 10.8 yard aDot but this past week was a quick reminder of what the down weeks can look like. 


Safe Plays (YIN)

Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles

Last year Dallas Goedert was upset that they put him on IR because he heals faster than everyone else, like Deadpool. Seriously, he said that. And, if he can return to play this week after breaking his arm earlier this month, I might believe him. It’s more likely that he returns against the Cowboys though.

David Njoku, Cleveland Browns

In games with Deshaun Watson, David Njoku averaged 5.2 targets per game. In games with the backup QBs, he has averaged 8.6. That includes 15 and 9 targets in the last two games. Obviously, it’s a little scary relying on whoever is out there of Dorian Thompson-Robinson or PJ Walker but it’s much worse for Amari Cooper than it is for Njoku. Over the last six weeks he actually has the fourth-highest target share behind only George Kittle and his 13 screens on the season are second only to Engram’s 15. That’s nice in PPR. 

Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers

These are the narratives we HAVE to chase. Remember the rookie year for Amon-Ra St. Brown? He wasn’t doing much but their guys got hurt, the play-calling changed, his role changed, and boom - wheels up. This week's catalyst was the firing of Matt Canada and a simplified playbook from interim OC Eddie Faulker. And the result was 9 catches on 11 targets for 120 yards for Muth. Those 120 receiving yards led not just tight ends but all players. If you have guys on bye weeks he might be out there.

Cole Kmet, Chicago Bears

This guy scares me. Some weeks they lean on him to catch passes, other weeks they lean on him to block on pass plays (or even come out of the game for Marcedes Lewis). When it’s good it’s good and when it’s bad it looks like the Raiders game where he blocked on eight pass plays and caught zero balls. If I have Kmet, I am definitely rostering another tight end and playing the matchups from week to week. 

Cade Otton, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Cade Otton is the quintessential Yin tight end. He plays a huge snap share (over the last six weeks, he LEADS all tight ends in route participation). He’s the third fiddle on the team but also consistently gets some looks every week. And, if something were to happen to either Mike Evans or Chris Godwin, he would have big upside. He’s basically a Kirkland brand Dallas Goedert. Perfect guy to use for a bye week if you have Dalton Kincaid, Trey McBride, and Isaiah Likely

Jake Ferguson, Dallas Cowboys

We finally started coming around on the usage for Jake Ferguson after it transformed following Peyton Hendershot going on IR. He went from a guy running about 50% of the routes to 70-80%. Yet now as of late, the targets haven't really been there. He only has two games all season with more than 50 yards, Schoonmaker mixes in and Hendershot will be back soon so I’m finding it harder and harder to rely on him. Very touchdown-dependent player.   

Juwan Johnson, New Orleans Saints

Juwan is more of a spot start this week for bye weeks than he is a long-term guy you can trust. But last week with Michael Thomas already out and both Rashid Shaheed and Chris Olave exiting the game, he led the team in routes run and got seven targets. Shaheed is likely out this week at least which makes him a viable bye week fill in.


Upside Stashes (Yang)

Dalton Kincaid, Buffalo Bills

Here we are - the moment of truth. We’ve still been holding two tight ends for this bye week and because Dawson Knox will be back soon. Kincaid has been fantastic while Knox has been out, running almost 80% of the routes with a 20% target share and a running 75% of his routes from a WR spot. When Knox returns, we hope most of his snaps will come from Khalil Shakir, at which case we move Kincaid up to standalone. But, since he has the bye week this week, you need another tight end anyway. 


Isaiah Likely, Baltimore Ravens

I saw what I needed to see here. Likely jumped right into the Andrews role playing 37 snaps at WR (only 15 inline) and running more routes than any WR besides Zay Flowers. As we said, you were going to get a higher upside off the wire than this guy in that role with Lamar Jackson. We even did a full breakdown of the previous game, with video, of why we believed in him. I am in but you still need a replacement for the bye this week. 

Dalton Schultz, Houston Texans

You might think the worst possible playoff schedule for a tight end would be to play the best three teams against the tight end. But that’s actually only the third-worst schedule. The worst would be playing the top team against the TE, then playing the second team, then playing the top team again. Dalton Schultz has the second-worst schedule possible playing the second-best team vs the TE (Titans), then playing the best (Browns), then playing the Titans again. That already had us spooked and then Schultz split snaps with Brevin Jordan this week coming off IR. Schultz played 29 of 60 snaps and ran 23 of 47 routes while Brevin Jordan played 26 snaps and ran 19 routes. Big yikes. If he is your tight end, add another tight. 

Taysom Hill, New Orleans Saints

Look, we know what we have here. This guy is capable of scoring multiple touchdowns at any time. He is also capable of rough weeks. I understand starting him for a one-week spot start but I just can’t trust him to string three games together in a row for fantasy playoffs. He’s put up the following PPR weeks this season:

  • 4.3
  • 3.2
  • 3.1
  • 3
  • 0.4

Logan Thomas, Washington Commanders

Logan Thomas was a top two target on the team along with Terry McLaurin for a great stretch there but, as of late, we’ve seen games for Jahan Dotson and Curtis Samuel where Logan ends up on the back burner. He’s probably more of a Yin tight end than a Yang but he still plays a good number of snaps and Washington drops back more than any other team. He has a bye week still so you need two anyway. 

Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons

Kyle Pitts has just not looked anything like the rookie who put up over 1,000 yards with Matt Ryan. Whether it’s the knee or the quarterback play or the playcalling, it doesn’t really matter that much at this stage. George Kittle, Mark Andrews, and Dalton Schultz all have 61 targets, Kyle Pitts has 60, and Jake Ferguson has 58 but it certainly doesn’t feel like that does it?