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Fantasy Football: Sleeper tight ends for 2023 drafts

2RHEW3X Detroit Lions tight end Sam LaPorta runs during an NFL football practice, Wednesday, Aug. 16, 2023, in Allen Park, Mich. (AP Photo/Carlos Osorio)

  • Can Chigoziem Okonkwo stay efficient on more snaps? : The Tennessee Titans‘ tight end was the best tight end on a per-play basis last year and should see more playing time this season.
  • Target the rookies: While rookie tight ends don’t have the best history of success in their rookie season, this class is stronger than most, and it’s better than taking a veteran we know won’t be a top-10 fantasy tight end.
  • Fantasy draft approaching? Use PFF’s AI-powered Live Draft Assistant to win the draft and dominate your 2023 fantasy football league.
Estimated reading time: 8 minutes
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These sleepers are five players with a 120-plus ADP on ESPN that I have ranked notably higher. Some of these players will have a top-120 ADP at other sources where a higher percentage of users are experts, but a variety of players were picked so at least some players could be considered a sleeper at any site.

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

Chigoziem Okonkwo, Tennessee Titans (ADP: 160.9, From ESPN)

The fourth-round rookie was one of the few bright spots for the Tennessee Titans last season.

  • Okonkwo started his career third in the Titans' tight end rotation. He averaged 12 snaps a game over his first month, with nearly 40% of his snaps coming in three tight end sets.
  • He caught three passes for 38 yards and a touchdown in that fourth game, leading to an increased role over the rest of the season.
  • Okonkwo spent the rest of the season as the primary tight end in 21 personnel, as well as one of the primary tight ends in 12 personnel.
  • He remained third on the depth chart in 11 personnel, including just 16.8% of possible snaps on third downs in 11 personnel from Week 6 on.
  • He was the most efficient tight end on a per-play basis.
  • Out of 55 tight ends with at least 150 routes, he ranked second in targets per route (0.26), first in receptions per route (0.19), first in yards per route (2.61), fifth in touchdowns per route (0.017) and fourth in avoided tackles per catch (0.219)
  • Austin Hooper and Geoff Swaim were the two players ahead of him on the depth chart at times, and neither one is on the roster.
  • Tennessee added run blocker Trevon Wesco, who will not be a threat to Okonkwo on passing downs.
  • The big concern for Okonkwo is if the Titans don’t expand his role in a significant way. Austin Hooper, Anthony Firkser and Jonnu Smith have all been sleeper tight ends in recent seasons, and none have worked out for fantasy managers.
  • Tennessee has had a different tight end lead the team in snaps on first and second downs compared to third down in each of the last four seasons.
  • The Titans drafted Josh Whyle in the fifth round, and he is likely to be more of a receiver than a blocker.
  • Okonkwo has graded better as a receiver than any Titan tight end in the Mike Vrabel era, so ideally, he can be an exception. 
  • This also isn’t a black-and-white issue. He can see a slight increase in snaps and be a fantasy starter, but ideally, he becomes an every-down player, in which he has top-five potential.
  • The Titans used Okonkwo in one preseason game, in which he played 100% of snaps in 11 personnel with the starters after playing less than 20% last season, which is a good sign for his expanded role.
  • They still rotated him in and out of 12 personnel so this still isn’t the most ideal situation, but it looks like a big step in the right direction.


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