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Fantasy Football Draft Strategy: Optimal approach for picking TEs in 2022

Atlanta, Georgia, USA; Atlanta Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts (8) catches a pass during warmups before their game against the Cleveland Browns at Mercedes-Benz Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

• Drafting Travis Kelce or Mark Andrews early provide fantasy managers with a positional advantage and flexibility.

• Kyle Pitts posted an 81.6 PFF receiving grade in his first NFL season — the fourth-best rookie mark at the position since 2011.

Dallas Goedert posted an elite 85% route participation and a whopping 27% target share after the Zach Ertz trade last season.


Depending on league size, rules and scoring format, there are several roster construction strategies that can lead to a successful fantasy football draft.

Today, we will examine the 2022 fantasy football tight end landscape, along with when — and why — we should draft certain players at specific points in the draft.

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STRATEGY OVERVIEW

I have placed highly in major season-long re-draft tournaments using them all: zero RB, anchor RB, hyper-fragile, taking an early quarterback, waiting on a quarterback, taking a premature tight end, waiting on tight end… the list goes on and on.

Every season is different, and every draft is a dynamic, living organism. The sooner we trap ourselves into one strategy, the quicker we expose ourselves when other drafters have the same idea and foil our plans.

This article is about creating flexibility by identifying market inefficiencies — think of it as solving a puzzle backward. We can formulate an adaptable if-then strategy by understanding which positions provide value based on average draft position (ADP).

Whether you start RB-RB, RB-WR or WR-WR, you will know who your targets are round-by-round, so you know when to wait for value and when to get aggressive.

Notes: 
  • Based on 12-team PPR using Fantasy Pros average ADP (ESPN, RTSports, Fantrax and Sleeper)
  • Starting lineup = 1QB, 2RB, 3WR, 1TE, 1FLEX (RB, WR, TE)
  • Early position = picks 1-4; Middle position = picks 5-8; Late position = picks 9-12.
  • Adjust accordingly for eight and 10-team formats.

EARLY ROUNDS (1-2)

First-round ADP: Travis Kelce
Second-round ADP: Mark Andrews

Optimal Strategy: Draft one anchor running back and pair them with an elite wide receiver or tight end, such as Andrews.

Backup Strategies: Start RB/RB if you can pair D'Andre Swift, Aaron Jones or Saquon Barkley with one of the top three options from Round 1 OR start WR/WR and reserve a Round 3 or 4 pick for RB.

Early position:

Andrews goes at the end of Round 2 in most formats outside of tight-end premium leagues, such as the FFPC, where he goes in the middle of the round. Andrews is a viable target in this range, which should provide fantasy managers with a positional advantage and flexibility to be done with the position in re-draft formats.

However, Darren Waller and George Kittle often fall back in the fourth round and serve as great pivot options when the RB tiers drop off a cliff, and the WR tiers reach a flat spot. There is a chance Kittle or Waller will provide similar production to Andrews at a discounted rate.

Lamar Jackson is available in most leagues in the early fifth-round option, so taking Andrews enables the opportunity to stack the two players together.

Middle position:

Andrews is again an option from this range in Round 2, but you will likely pass an upside back with three-down potential. Additionally, Kyle Pitts goes in the mid-to-late third and offers gobs of upside.

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In tight-end premium formats, Kelce is in play in the first round but don’t prioritize him over younger studs in great situations with first-round ADPs at other positions, such as Austin Ekeler, JaMarr Chase and Stefon Diggs. Andrews and Pitts in the middle of the second are preferable to Kelce given the opportunity costs of Kelce in the first at age 33.

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