I could not have pictured a more nightmarish week to start the season at the tight end position. In our fantasy football tight end rankings, Tier One was Travis Kelce by himself and Tier Two was Mark Andrews by himself – neither played in NFL Week 1. Plus, Darren Waller was banged up, and George Kittle came in banged up. We only had TWO tight ends finish above 50 yards on the week (Hunter Henry with 56 and Luke Musgrave with 50). We also lost Greg Dulcich and possibly also Pat Freiermuth, who both landed on the NFL injury report ahead of Week 2.
That being said, those of us who used the Yin & Yang tight end strategy we are talking about here, are probably feeling alright. The full write up from this year is here but the short and sweet of the strategy is this: We wait on tight end in fantasy football drafts and then draft two. Your “Yin” tight end is the safest possible player, even if they have capped upside, and we start him over the short term. The “Yang” tight end is a bench stash with the highest risk and highest reward that we hope breaks out as a fantasy football sleeper. We continue to cycle players through that bench spot until we find a guy we can start for the playoffs. And, because of that, the strategy doesn’t stop with the draft – we keep it rolling each week. There may be top fantasy football waiver wire pickups at tight end worth targeting this week. So, without further ado, here are the updated Yin & Yang fantasy football tight end rankings ahead of NFL Week 2.
2023 Fantasy Football Tight End Rankings Yin & Yang - Week 2 Update
Tier 1: The Travis Kelce Tier
We are just waiting for him to be healthy, at which point we go back to starting him every week. That hasn’t changed.
Tier 2: The Mark Andrews Tier
As of right now, he’s in a tier of his own but there is a bit of concern here. We really would have liked to see Isaiah Likely heavily involved in the Mark Andrews role. He was out there a lot but wasn’t targeted much, as the Ravens used a lot of three-wide receiver sets with this new offense. Likely isn’t Mark Andrews, which obviously matters, so we start Andrews right when he gets back and just hope he carves himself out a big role.
Tier 3: The Next Best Things
Hock caught eight of eight targets and was as rock solid as we hoped. Jordan Addison actually played fewer snaps than KJ Osborn so we are safe for now but Addison also scored a long TD. There is long term concern that Addison could be a star which could hurt targets but you have to feel pretty good about having Hock in this landscape.
The good news is that Waller was featured early on and whenever he was on the field. The bad news is he’s clearly not 100% with that hamstring injury. The upside for him is still there when healthy.
Tier 4: The Boring Elite Guys
George Kittle, San Francisco Giants
This is pretty simple - this isn’t the old 49ers. Deebo Samuel is good. Brandon Aiyuk has emerged. Christian McCaffrey is in town. George Kittle is still awesome but we really need to rely on touchdowns and big plays more than ever here as targets are thin. Luckily he is still capable of both.
We were fading Goedert in drafts at ADP but that doesn’t mean you need to overreact to the zero this week. The Patriots and Kyle Dugger specifically are tight end killers. Goedert is basically a “handcuff plus” where he has standalone value but his upside is maximized by an injury to either A.J. Brown or DeVonta Smith. If he struggles this week in what should be a good matchup for him, then we worry. Might be wise to stash someone from the Yang list anyway, if you can afford it.
Safe Plays (YIN)
Evan Engram did exactly what we ask of him. He’s not the top target on the team - that’s obviously looking like Calvin Ridley this year. And Zay Jones was the second target, just like he was last year. But Evan Engram was reliable enough to get us through the week. And that’s what we ask of our Yin tight end. If he can consistently get 5-6 targets a game, he might even just be a guy you start all season. But I’m starting Engram and stashing one of these upside rookies, just like we planned.
We wondered whether Zach Ertz was healthy and the answer seems to be a resounding yes. And he led all tight ends this week with 10 targets. He’s really never been a big YAC guy so don’t expect a bunch of 100 yard games but it’s not crazy for him to get 5-6 looks a week which will keep us afloat for the time being while we find this year’s breakout.
We had hoped that Njoku would be a top-two target on the team and have a big breakout. And maybe that could still happen. But we moved him from the Yang side to the Yin side for a couple of reasons. One is that it looks like Amari Cooper and Elijah Moore are the top dogs for targets. And two is that he blocked on 17.2% of his pass plays which is bad news. That’s something he’s been guilty of in the past and hurts our upside.
Cole Kmet was a pleasant surprise this week for sure. He ran 82.7% of the routes which was 6th among tight ends and got six targets. And he did it while running almost 75% of his routes from a TE spot. The issues? 11.8% pass block rate is not great. 3.7-yard aDot is rough. And the Bears dialed up 52 pass plays per PFF (Justin Fields only actually threw it on 37 of them because he gets into the extracurriculars scrambling around). Even if this is the “New Bears”, they aren’t dialing up 50 pass plays a week.
Hunter found the Hen House once again which is one thing we love about it - he’s good vs. man to man which translates well to the redzone. He also had a 70% route participation and only blocked on one pass play. He could even find himself in the Yang or even Standalone section if he keeps things up. But we worry that, when DeVante Parker, Mike Gesicki, Juju Smith-Schuster, and Rhamondre Stevenson are healthy, there might not be as many targets. The Patriots also ran 80 offensive snaps this week which is well above average for the league - only the Rams ran more this week with 81.
Upside Stashes (Yang)
Pitts has been demoted to the Yang column for now - if/when this team shows they can deliver him the football, he might go back up to standalone. In theory, he still offers a lot that we like. His 83.3% route share was tied for third among tight ends. His 16.3-yard aDot is massive. He ran 81% of his routes from a wide receiver spot. But theoretical fantasy points don’t pay the bill. You can’t drop him but we need to see him in a better game script. Arthur Smith would run all day if you let him.
The Dalton Kincaid Theory has two parts to it. That he can line up at wide receiver for the Bills. And that he can be a top two target on the team. One of these has already come true. This week, he lined up at WR for 47 snaps, inline for eight. That’s HUGE. Now we need him to take off as a favorite target of Josh Allen. Four targets in his first game as a rookie vs. a tough defense is good, but we want more.
Sam LaPorta was so close to giving us everything we wanted. Five targets as a rookie in his first game is fantastic. We wanted to see him break a couple of those tackles though which he couldn’t manage. More concerning though, he blocked on five pass snaps. That’s 15.6% and is squarely in the danger zone. Hopefully that’s not the norm.
With the Packers' WRs hurt, some folks set Week One expectations too high for Musgrave. The problem wasn’t target competition - it was the matchup with Eddie Jackson. The fact that he did anything was encouraging and he did it while running 80% of the routes and playing over 50% of his snaps at WR. I’m actually glad he DIDN’T score that TD when he was wide open because it makes it easier for us to add him.
Schultz came out and played a massive snap share, he was top five in route participation, he only blocked on one pass snap. The issue? Well, Nico Collins and Robert Woods got most of the targets. But the upside based on this usage is big so we’re hoping that translates to him getting more looks in matchups that aren’t against the Ravens.
Hurst was kind of the opposite of Schultz. The targets were there. But he wasn’t a full time player. He only ran 58.7% of the routes which was pretty odd. But he was targeted when out there. Perhaps he plays more snaps and gets even more targets. Or perhaps when Thielen and Chark are fully healthy he plays half the game still but doesn’t get as many targets. This is why these guys are still risky options.
Other NFL Links:
- NFL Breaking News: Aaron Rodgers Injury Update - Jets QB Out for Season with Torn Achilles
- 2023 Fantasy Football Waiver Wire Week 2: Puka Nacua & Joshua Kelley Top Picks
- NFL Week 2 Fantasy Football Injury News Updates
- 2023 Fantasy Football Week 1 Hot Takes