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Fantasy Football: Which tight ends have a chance to lead their team in targets?

Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce (87) catches a pass as Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Mike Hilton (21) defends in the second quarter during the AFC championship NFL football game, Sunday, Jan. 30, 2022, at GEHA Field at Arrowhead Stadium in Kansas City, Mo. Cincinnati Bengals At Kansas City Chiefs Jan 30 Afc Championship 50

Breaking: It’s impossible to score fantasy football points without touching the ball at some point. 

Yes, some players are far more adept than others at making the most out of their opportunities, and others are in offenses that seemingly produce a never-ending flow of fantasy-friendly red zone looks.

Also yes, more volume is objectively better than less in fantasy football land. This is as true as ever at tight end, where only a handful of players are high enough in their passing game’s pecking order to even dream of reaching triple-digit targets in a single season.

A tiered breakdown of the projected target leader at tight end from all 32 NFL teams follows. I leaned on PFF’s fantasy football projections as well as team-preview series-induced research to rank the players; the five tiers I’ll be ranking each team/starter in are as follows:

  • Legit chance to lead offense in targets
  • Might just work as offense’s No. 2 pass-game option
  • No. 3 pass-game option with upside
  • Most likely the No. 4 pass-game option
  • Too much competition to even feel optimistic about No. 4 status

Players are listed in the tier in order of their raw projected targets. As always: Great day to be great. Let’s boogie.

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Tier 1: Legit chance to lead offense in targets

Kelce (143 targets) and Andrews (137) are No. 1 and No. 2 in projected targets at tight end after both the Chiefs and Ravens traded their incumbent No. 1 wide receiver during the offseason. They are accordingly the consensus top-two tight ends in PFF’s fantasy football rankings.

Kittle is projected to narrowly beat out Deebo Samuel in raw targets (113 vs. 112), which might seem surprising after the latter baller emerged as the engine of this offense in 2021, but the disparity was actually in the former’s favor the previous two seasons:

  • 2019: Kittle (7.1 targets per game); Samuel (5.5)
  • 2020: Kittle (7.9); Samuel (7.3)
  • 2021: Kittle (6.4); Samuel (7.1)

Pitts led the Falcons in targets in 2021 (110) and only has rookie WR Drake London as real competition ahead of 2022. In reality, Pitts is a wide receiver who we call a tight end: 80% of his routes came from the slot or out wide as a rookie. Regardless of position, Pitts showed off an impressive blend of contested-catch goodness and YAC ability on his way to posting the sixth-highest mark in yards per route run (2.13) among any rookie pass-catcher of the past five years (min. 50 targets).

Tier 2: Might just work as offense’s No. 2 pass-game option


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