The 2022 NFL Draft has come and gone with little changing in the tight end landscape throughout the league. The top-drafted tight ends landed with teams that might not need their services for a year or two.
If a dynasty manager is looking to upgrade at tight end, then they will need to make a trade. Here are my top-40 dynasty tight ends broken into tiers to help navigate the trade market as dynasty rookie drafts heat up.
Kyle Pitts is in a league of his own at tight end — every other player at his position either doesn’t have the talent or doesn’t have the youth. At 21 years old, he's still younger than all of the top tight ends picked in 2022 draft. He also put together the best rookie season at tight end in 60 years, gaining over 1,000 receiving yards.
Pitts compares favorably to other great tight ends in his ability to make big plays. His 29 explosive catches ranked second at the position only behind Mark Andrews. The one area where he needs to improve to become an elite fantasy TE is in the end zone. He was one of just two players in 2021 with 20 or more red zone targets and one or fewer touchdowns.
Pitts might not be the favorite to finish as the overall TE1 in 2022 because of his low touchdown rate, but he is still years away from his peak age. Every other tight end who finished in the top-10 in fantasy points last season will be 26 or older at the end of their season, making all other great tight ends either at their peak or already declining. Having Pitts on your roster is by far the safest bet to have both a top-five fantasy tight end this year and a top-five fantasy tight end in five years from now.
This tier offers the consistent, elite tight ends. Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews have been at least top-six tight ends each of the last three seasons. George Kittle has ranked top-four in two of the last three seasons and was on pace to finish as TE3 in 2020 had it not been for injury. They are unsurprisingly the top-three tight ends in terms of PFF receiving grade over that time frame.
An argument could be made for Andrews or Kelce to be in Tier 1 despite their ages. They both scored over 50 more PPR points than any other tight end last season. The problem: There is reason to expect both players to see a decline in their fantasy production. The Ravens have running backs returning from injury, which should result in more run plays. Baltimore also invested a pair of fourth-round picks on receiving tight ends, including red zone target Charlie Kolar. These players will cut into Andrews' playing time and potentially his touchdowns.
Kelce is a player on the decline. He will be 33 years old by the end of the season, and Kansas City already started to cut back on his playing time. His threat rate, deep target percentage, completion percentage when targeted and yards per route run were all at their lowest marks since 2015. Kansas City expected him to make shorter catches and do more work after the catch. His fantasy value remained dominant thanks to his work in the red zone.
Even at 80% of his peak, the future Hall of Famer is still better than the vast majority of tight ends in the league. The players in lower tiers are either younger with no guarantee of becoming great, or older and are just as likely to decline as Kelce. Having the Chiefs tight end for another year or two can add more value than the average tight end in the next tier — as long as your fantasy team can win a championship in the near future.