Tight end is a tricky position. For maximum production, you need a balance of talent, scheme, and opportunity. If just one of those is missing, we’re in line for a disappointing season. And tight ends on their rookie deal have next to no say in where they end up and what the scheme or roster might look like so it’s not easy for those stars to align even if the talent is there. Luckily, free agent tight ends have the luxury of choosing where they end up which can lead to late breakouts like Delanie Walker or Evan Engram.


The Super Bowl was on February 12 and the legal tampering period and start of NFL Free Agency opens this Monday, March 13th. That’s 29 days and we’ve spent that time hitting on every NFL team in terms of rosters, depth charts, contracts, salary cap, and draft picks (those can be found here). That has us fully geared up and as prepared as we can be be for the chaos of NFL free agency and the 2023 NFL Draft. Now it’s time to look at the unrestricted free agents available and the best landing spots for their value in fantasy football.

The Landing Spots

For rookie tight ends, landing spot isn’t the end of the world because they are young and we have a lot of time for them to find their groove. But, with free agent tight ends, time isn’t on our side so we want them to land in a spot where they can A. be the top tight end on the depth chart and B. be a top two target on the team. That’s a tall order but there are some decent landing spots out there.

Carolina Panthers

They don’t have particularly relevant tight ends on the roster as is. They just traded their top pass catcher. A good tight end would virtually be a lock as a top-two target with Terrace Marshall and could immediately LEAD this team in targets.

  • Landing Spot Grade: A

New York Giants

We like Daniel Bellinger. But, if this team were to add someone like Mike Gesicki, it would be pretty clear what they want to do. Bellinger in-line, Gesicki in the slot. They basically just have Isaiah Hodgins and Wan’Dale Robinson under contract at WR so a good tight end could lead this team in receptions as well.

  • Landing Spot Grade: A

Green Bay Packers

There are a ton of targets available here. Allen Lazard and Robert Tonyan are both free agents leaving Christian Watson at the top of the chart followed by who? Romeo Doubs? If Rodgers is still there this is the number one TE landing spot but we don’t expect him to be.

  • Landing Spot Grade: A

Indianapolis Colts

Michael Pittman is locked in at split end. After that though, the competition for second target on the team is wide open. Parris Campbell is a free agent (which could leave valuable slot snaps for a tight end) and Alec Pierce is an unproven sophomore. They have Jelani Woods as an inline tight end so the landing spot would specifically be for a guy like Gesicki or a trade candidate like Zach Ertz that lines up primarily in the slot. That spot could have 100+ targets available immediately.

  • Landing Spot Grade: B

New Orleans Saints

Right now Michael Thomas is still on the team which holds this one back. If Thomas were to get released, now the second target spot after Chris Olave is open. With Derek Carr at QB, that would be pretty nice. Even with those two, the third target spot is fairly open and MT is obviously injury prone. All that said, they could very easily bring back Juwan Johnson on his restricted free agent tender so it might not even be an available spot.


Edit: Juwan Johnson signed a two year extension with the Saints. This takes the Saints off the table as a landing spot. 

  • Landing Spot Grade: B

Houston Texans

Any tight end would have no competition to top this depth chart. They would, however, have to battle with Brandin Cooks and newly signed Robert Woods for targets. But both those guys are 30 so, long term, this spot is appealing in dynasty. We have to remember that guys like Travis Kelce, Darren Waller, Zach Ertz etc. didn’t have a 1,000 yard season until they were 27 which is the age Mike Gesicki is right now.

  • Landing Spot Grade: C

Detroit Lions

After trading TJ Hockenson, the top TE spot is wide open. Amon-Ra St. Brown is going to get his targets but the jury is still out on Jameson Williams. Could be productive for the right guy even if Williams lives up to the hype.

  • Landing Spot Grade: C

Dallas Cowboys

Ceedee Lamb is the top dog. But Dalton Schultz at times was neck and neck with Michael Gallup leaving the door open for another guy to do the same. It might not be as high volume with Kellen Moore gone but still should be solid. 

  • Landing Spot Grade: C

Miami Dolphins

Jaylen Waddle and Tyreek Hill are target hogs. But Mike McDaniel needs to find a two-way tight end to play the George Kittle role and we all know what George Kittle did in his offense. He opted for Durham Smythe over Mike Gesicki so whoever it is will need to block. 

  • Landing Spot Grade: C

Los Angeles Chargers 

They restructured Keenan Allen so he and Mike Williams are locked in. But there are rumors that Gerald Everett could be released. Competing with Allen, Williams, and Ekeler isn’t ideal but it’s the starting tight end for Justin Herbert.

  • Landing Spot Grade: C

Cincinnati Bengals

The reality about Austin Ekeler is that he gives you virtually the same production in the pass game as Tyler Boyd. So you can take the info above about target competition for the Chargers and basically copy that for the Bengals as a tight end landing spot. The difference is that Keenan Allen, Mike Williams, and Austin Ekeler are all getting up there in age whereas Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins are both still very young.

  • Landing Spot Grade: C

‘D’ Grade Landing Spots: Buffalo Bills, Washington Commanders, Los Angeles Rams, Seattle Seahawks, New England Patriots, Chicago Bears, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, New York Jets, Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans

'F' Grade Landing Spots: Philadelphia Eagles, San Francisco 49ers, Arizona Cardinals, Minnesota Vikings, Atlanta Falcons, Kansas City Chiefs, Las Vegas Raiders, Denver Broncos, Baltimore Ravens, Pittsburgh Steelers, Jacksonville Jaguars

Top 5 Free Agent Tight Ends

Mike Gesicki

This is my top tight end for fantasy football. His profile is perfect in a vacuum - at 6’6”, 247 pounds with a 4.54 forty yard dash his best comparable player on Player Profiler is Vernon Davis who had arguably the best tight end combine of all time.

He’s not perfect as a player though as he does struggle with contested catches and in breaking tackles. And he absolutely needs the right scheme. Under Adam Gase in 2018 he was forced to block on 17.7% of his pass plays and was irrelevant for fantasy. Brian Flores then took over and brought Chan Gailey in as offensive coordinator who moved Gesicki to “big slot” where he only blocked on 2.4% of his pass plays. Gesicki finished as TE7 in PPR under those conditions. Brian Flores continued this usage and he was serviceable for two more years - until Mike McDaniel arrived as head coach. McDaniel needed a two-way tight end for his scheme so he had Durham Smythe at in-line TE with Gesicki in a part-time slot role. Gesicki finished as TE23. Now Gesicki is free to sign somewhere he can play “big slot” again. Because of that, we don’t want him going to a spot with a clear slot WR already like Detroit or Cincinnati.

Dalton Schultz

Dalton Schultz is what we like to call an opportunist. He’s not particularly fast and he doesn’t create for himself well in man to man but, in the right system, he can soak up targets and accumulate stats. The concern for Schultz is that he could be the next Austin Hooper if he goes from a high-volume attack to a mid or low-volume attack. In fact, his best comparable player on Player Profiler is actually Austin Hooper. In dynasty, I’m looking to sell him simply because the best possible landing spot for him might actually be the team he just came from. I don’t really see a team signing him and saying “Dalton Schultz is our Travis Kelce, he’s the focal point of our offense” so there are just too many situations where his value goes down, not up. He needs to be an every-down player and get volume.

Irv Smith

Irv had a promising start to his career - according to Pro Football Focus, he had the highest yards per route run and was the highest-graded tight end of all the rookies his first year. But injuries derailed all of that. After getting hurt once again in 2022, the Vikings had to make a move on a “win now” team so they went out and got TJ Hockenson. That made Irv Smith expendable but that doesn’t mean he can’t bounce back with a new team, assuming he’s healthy. At 6’2” 242, he’s closer in size to a guy like Evan Engram than prototypical tight ends so he needs a place that will use him out of the slot rather than force him to play in-line with his hand in the dirt. As he's only 24 years old, he could be alright landing in a crowded spot with aging players like the Texans, Chargers, or Rams.

Austin Hooper

What we said about Dalton Schultz can be said about Austin Hooper - his role with his new team will be everything. We’ve seen Hooper as a part of the pass attack (Atlanta) and we’ve seen him as part of the protection (Cleveland, Tennessee). There is a nightmare scenario floating around out there which would be the Falcons bringing him back to serve as the in-line role in Arthur Smith’s offense that was occupied by Hesse Parker last year. With Kyle Pitts out wide, Hooper would virtually never line up at WR. Since he and Schultz are fairly similar players, their ideal landing spots are pretty much the same. Needs to be high-volume offense or a very clear path to targets.

Hayden Hurst

I never really understood the love for Hayden Hurst landing with the Cincinnati Bengals. Why would you want him on a team competing for targets with Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, Tyler Boyd, and Joe Mixon? If Hurst is ever going to take his fantasy relevancy to another level, it likely needs to be somewhere completely devoid of target competition where he can get peppered.


Honorable Mentions

Juwan Johnson

Johnson is a restricted free agent making it very easy to the Saints to retain him. Otherwise he would slot into the list above right behind Dalton Schultz. He might not be the best all around tight end for real life football but he's a converted WR that plays most of his snaps at WR. And, since we can start him at TE in fantasy, that makes him a valuable player. Depending on landing spot, he could honestly be the TE1 from this group when all is said and done. But the Saints could easily prevent him from leaving by slapping him with the 2nd round RFA tender which I expect.


Edit: Juwan Johnson signed a two year extension with the Saints on March 11, 2023. 

Gerald Everett

He hasn’t been released but there are rumors that might happen. If he is released, he would slot in between Schultz and Irv Smith Jr in the rankings. When the WRs were injured in LAC he was solid but the best place for him is where he already is.

Robert Tonyan

He had a clear path to playing time and targets with Green Bay but really only had that one relevant year with all the touchdowns. In hindsight, that was likely more Aaron Rodgers than anything.

Eli Wolf

Wolf ran a 4.43 forty at 6’4”, 245 pounds at his Pro Day. He’s bounced around practice squads and suffered some injuries so he’s yet to really get on the field. He might not actually be good enough to crack an NFL roster but, given his profile, he’s not going to be asked to stay in and bock. At this stage of the game, I’d almost rather hold someone like Wolf vs. a low upside guy like Tonyan. But that’s me.

Dan Arnold, Anthony Firkser, Cameron Brate 

These guys are all lumped together because they offer the same thing - they don’t really lineup in-line and block but are serviceable pass catchers out of the slot. Brate has not been released yet but it’s been announced that he will be.

Foster Moreau, Darnold Parham

Between Hard Knocks and the XFL, the hype was built for these guys but never really delivered. They both have served primarily as blocking tight ends. Moreau has gotten a lot of chances to start games but he’s never cracked 70 yards. Not particularly interesting though they still somehow carry trade value.

Joe Fortson, Tyree Jackson

Both are kind of intriguing but they are also both exclusive rights free agents where they can be kept for the vet minimum by their current teams (which are the Chiefs and Eagles, respectively, so the worst possible landing spots).

Follow Andrew Cooper on Twitter @CoopAFiasco for more NFL and fantasy football insights and stay tuned as we hit on all 32 NFL teams in this series leading into NFL free agency!

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