Boy, we were starting to worry about the tight end position for a moment. Even though we were very clear about fading some of them at ADP this summer – like George Kittle, Dallas Goedert, and Pat Freiermuth – we still are going to root for as many viable tight ends in fantasy football as possible. And this was a huge bounce-back week for some of the “name brand” tight ends out there with Kittle, Goedert, Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, Kyle Pitts, and Mark Andrews all finishing in the TE1 range (and T.J. Hockenson wasn’t far off at TE14). That doesn’t mean we love all of them in our rest-of-season fantasy football rankings, though. We’ll give you our thoughts on all the relevant ones in this article, but you have to be feeling at least a little better about the tight end position after this week.
These rankings 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, and 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 Week 6 Tight End Yin Yang Rankings
Kelce will almost certainly always be at the top here in the rest of season rankings. If the ankle is actually a problem, he may have some folks join him in the top tier of the weekly rankings though. But he’s practicing already today so he’s playing Thursday. And you are starting him.
It’s starting to get a lot closer at the top. But Andrews is still TE2 in target share behind only Kelce. He’s TE2 in route participation behind only Dallas Goedert. He’s TE3 in percentage of routes run from a WR spot behind only Mike Gesicki and Kyle Pitts. And he’s elite in virtually every other category. It really doesn’t matter how you rank them because you are starting all these guys but I know folks love to quibble. And your arguments for other folks at two are all valid and I respect your opinion. But this is mine.
Sam LaPorta has been making an argument for himself here or even a two but how can we move T.J. Hockenson down now that Justin Jefferson is out for an extended time? Unless they blow it up and start trading guys, Kirk Cousins doesn’t really have too many other places to look. Hock is about as safe as it gets.
Sam LaPorta is everything we were hoping Dalton Kincaid could be (and we are still hoping Kincaid can step up, more on that later). LaPorta has been elite in virtually every category outside of pass block rate (11.2% which is a little high) and WR snap percentage (he’s just under 50% whereas most elite guys are closer to 70-80%). Pitts and Andrews are closer to 90%. But it doesn’t matter because he’s producing. One thing he’s been exceptional at is winning in man to man where he has the second most receptions of any TE and one of the highest catch rates while leading in contested catches. The only remaining concern is the emergence of Jameson Williams but Sam LaPorta and Amon-Ra St. Brown owners have assured me that he won’t have any effect on the targets of these two players, just everyone else.
We talked about this last week but nothing has really changed - Engram is top 10 in virtually every category except aDot and air yards but a lot of that is because he leads all tight ends in screen passes with six while being second behind only Kelce in reception out of the slot. And he makes up for those low aDot plays with a high YAC.
In my heart, Darren Waller never left this spot but there was enough concern last week to drop him down to the Yang category. He’s top 5-10 in virtually every category we care about including target share, route participation, pass blocking, aDot, WR route rate, etc. Plus he’s TE9 in PPR points. Daniel Jones could make the ride bumpy, especially if he misses a game or two with the neck issue, but I was always planning on just rolling Waller out where I had him. And that has not changed much.
Safe Plays (Yin)
We told you these games would come because it’s what Kittle does. He breaks the rules. In this offense, he is unique enough in terms of speed and ability that he can break off chunk plays and score touchdowns even on limited usage. So you’re going to have these games. But you’ll also have games where he is the fourth target on the team behind Brandon Aiyuk, Deebo Samuel, and Christian McCaffrey. So you can always throw him in there but I’d consider selling high. And, if he’s my tight end, I’m stashing a high-risk, high-reward option on the bench.
Same story that it’s always been with this guy. In most games, he’s the third fiddle behind A.J. Brown and DeVonta Smith. This week Smith was atrocious, catching one of five targets, so he stepped up. He’s essentially a handcuff plus that you can start right now but has a difference-making upside if either WR gets hurt. And that’s why you probably should never drop him, just in case.
Cole Kmet has been pretty solid but he’s a “just miss” in a few categories. He does not have an elite route participation - even in the solid game this week he only ran 23 of 33 routes. Part of that is because he doesn’t play a full snap share and part of it is because they ask him to block on more than 10% of the pass plays. But he’s clearly involved so you can certainly start him from week to week. I’m just not quite willing to sit there and say, “Okay I have Cole Kmet so I don’t need to think about tight end anymore”.
Like most of the tight ends on this side of the list, David Njoku is “fine." He’s not a top two target on the team but he’s not going to go out there and get you a zero in most instances. We are splitting hairs on this side and the fact that Njoku already had his buy week is a plus for him. It’s already hard enough playing Yin & Yang tight end without having to worry about bye weeks.
We have been warning about the usage of Jake Ferguson for a while now and how it could be problematic. This is what it looks like. The Cowboys have honestly had very few “normal” games but, even early on in games before they get out of hand, Ferguson has been rotating with the other tight ends in 11 personnel. And that was without Peyton Hendershot the last couple of games. Of all these stats we talk about, he’s outside the top 10-15 in target share, route participation, snap share, pass block percentage, aDot, WR snap %, etc. Well outside it in many of them. What he has going for him right now are targets vs. man-to-man and red zone targets though he hasn’t done a lot with them.
Hunter Henry was expected to struggle in one of the toughest tight end matchups against the Saints. Zero catches though is struggling to another degree. This team is a mess and a guy who once felt reliable is feeling pretty rough.
Chig has flashed the talent but he needs WR injuries to get enough looks. And, even then, the looks from Ryan Tannehill are less than ideal.
Upside Stashes (Yang)
We know what is going on here. Pitts is either at the top or close to it in every usage metric. But his knee is clearly not 100%. And the quarterback sucks. You have to hold him though in the event his knee clears up and they make a QB change. Or maybe Desmond Ridder turns the corner. But you don’t necessarily have to start him.
It’s pretty obvious at this point that Eric Bienemy and Ron Rivera want the tight end to be a focal point. Even in the week Thomas missed, Cole Turner got a bunch of looks. On a per-game basis, he’s actually leading the team in targets at 6.25. And that’s without considering he also missed half of a game when he got the concussion. The upside is there.
Zach Ertz is honestly closer to moving to the Yin side than he is going up to the standalone tier. He’s on the Yang side because of his target share which does offer him upside. But he doesn’t offer much in terms of YAC and red zone opportunities for this team might be scarce so his path to finishing top five is kind of tough.
It’s a scary time for Luke Musgrave with Christian Watson back. In the first game, he got decent targets but he was third in routes run with 24 behind 34 for Romeo Doubs and 30 for Christian Watson. He could end up battling Jayden Reed to be the third target on the team which could see him falling to the wayside.
Right now it looks bleak - especially since fellow rookie Sam LaPorta is doing well. But we had to know this start was within the range of outcomes because we’ve all said it a million times. Sometimes rookies start slow. I mean, rookie Amon-Ra St. Brown through 10 weeks was WR70 and he finished as the WR4. As of now though, it does look like Kincaid needs some kind of catalyst the way ARSB did via injuries and role change. Right now he is basically mixing and matching with Dawson Knox and that won’t cut it. I’m holding where I can but I understand if you can’t. Just keep an eye on this article to see if that ever changes.
With the rumblings that the Broncos could be big-time sellers at the deadline, Dulcich becomes an interesting stash. There were rumors this offseason about potential Courtland Sutton or Jerry Jeudy trades which could open things up for Dulcich. Or he could be traded himself. He’s worth a stash as we get close to the trade deadline, especially where you have an IR spot. Adam Trautman is not a threat and whoever is left over could see looks.
Same thought process here. Michael Pittman is a stud. And Josh Downs has looked pretty decent. But the current tight ends haven’t set the world on fire so he could just right back into the starting spot there. And we don’t know who Gardner Minshew/Anthony Richardson will like so maybe he can make a splash. Better to hold a high-risk, high-reward play than a lot of these boring ones.
Watch the Latest Coops Fantasy Fiasco
Other NFL Links:
- 2023 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Week 6: Gardner Minshew & Josh Downs Lead List of Free Agent Targets
- 2023 NFL Injury Report Week 6: Anthony Richardson, Justin Jefferson & Travis Kelce Injury Updates
- 2023 Fantasy Football Week 5 Hot Takes: Cooper Kupp and Puka Nacua Can Live In Harmony
- NFL Breaking News: Justin Jefferson Injury Update