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Perfect 2023 fantasy football draft strategy for picking tight ends

2KDMHN9 November 6th 2022: Minnesota Vikings tight end T.J. Hockenson (87) warms up before the NFL game between the Minnesota Vikings and the Washington Commanders in Landover, MD. Reggie Hildred/CSM/Sipa USA(Credit Image: © Reggie Hildred/Cal Sport Media/Sipa USA)

  • Draft a top-seven tight end: The best tight ends in real life are the same as the top tight ends in fantasy, which has been true for multiple seasons.
  • There is a risk/reward to waiting: The longer you wait for a top-seven tight end, the better your team could look, but the higher the odds of losing out on any of the top seven.
  • Fantasy draft approaching? Use PFF’s AI-powered Live Draft Assistant to win the draft and dominate your 2023 fantasy football league.

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Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
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The “perfect draft by position series” takes a look at the strategies that have been used in the “perfect draft strategy by pick” series, as well as those used during my drafts. This compares not only how good these players are but also when you can get these players compared to others. This largely assumes a 12-team league, but similar logic can apply to other sizes with any major exceptions noted. To try some of these strategies on your own, check out our new mock draft simulator.

For help on strategy by pick numbers and league sizes, rankings, or more details about the players, check out the rest of my summer content below. For rankings with better filtering along with auction values, check out our draft rankings page.

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Position Rankings: QB | RB | WR | TE
Sleepers: Top-10 | QB | RB | WR | TE
League Winners: Top-5 | QB | RB | WR | TE
Breakouts: QB | RB | WR | TE
Position Draft Strategy: QB | RB | WR | TE

 16-Team Draft Strategy: Overall strategy

 14-Team Draft Strategy: Overall strategy
12-Team Draft Strategy: Overall strategy | Picks 1-3 | Picks 4-6 | Picks 7-9 | Picks 10-12
10-Team Draft Strategy: Overall strategy | Picks 1-3 | Picks 4-7 | Picks 8-10

Last updated: 7:15 a.m. Tuesday, August 29

1. Draft a Tier 3 Tight End

Top Target: T.J. Hockenson, George Kittle, Darren Waller

The best value for a tight end is coming in the fourth round with either Hockenson or Kittle, or Waller in the fifth round.

  • In general, it’s essential to draft one of the top seven fantasy tight ends because the consistency at tight end is stronger than the other positions from one season to another.
  • Travis Kelce, George Kittle, Dallas Goedert, Mark Andrews, Darren Waller, Rob Gronkowski, Kyle Pitts and T.J. Hockenson have been the top-eight tight ends in terms of PFF receiving grade over the last three seasons
  • There have been 16 times over the last three seasons where a tight end averaged 11.8 fantasy points per game or more. Fifteen of those 16 seasons have come from the top-eight graded tight ends. The only exception is Dalton Schultz in 2021.
  • If you want a top-five season out of your tight end, you need to draft one of those eight players. Rob Gronkowski is retired, so there are only seven options.
  • Hockenson, Kittle and Waller give the most value relative to where they are getting drafted.
  • Hockenson is the lowest-graded of the eight but is boosted up by a strong Minnesota Vikings offense in addition to his target and reception volume. A complete breakdown of Hockenson can be found in his player profile.
  • Kittle has league-winning potential as one of the most consistent tight ends of the past five seasons, with Brock Purdy throwing more deep passes and end zone targets to Kittle than past tight ends.
  • Waller should be the top target with the Giants but is the riskiest tight end among the top seven due to his age and recent injury history, as well as the uncertainty that comes with playing for a new team.

2. Draft a Tier 4 Tight End

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