Fantasy football 2022: Top 5 rookie tight ends

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Fantasy football 2022: Top 5 rookie tight ends originally appeared on NBC Sports Boston

Now that the 2022 NFL Draft is complete, we know where the top rookie tight ends of the class are headed to start their professional careers.

Though there weren’t many highly-rated prospects in this year’s crop of rookies, especially with the first one going off the board at No. 55 overall, there’s potential for them to grow down the road. 

But which tight ends could be worth adding to your fantasy football team? These five rookies could be the ones that boost your scores on gameday:

Trey McBride, Arizona Cardinals

While Kyler Murray awaits a contract extension to return to the field, the Cardinals drafted a new weapon for him from the tight end spot on Day 2 of the draft. Arizona took Trey McBride out of Colorado State with the 55th overall pick in the second round, and he was the consensus best player in the position.

In his final season in college, McBride broke out with 90 receptions, 1,121 yards and one touchdown. Defenses knew he was the primary target, but it didn’t matter. Arizona runs an air raid with Murray at the helm, and McBride could fit right in behind Zach Ertz on the depth chart with Maxx Williams, who suffered a torn ACL last season, alongside him. 

Greg Dulcich, Denver Broncos

Dulcich was the third tight end off the board in the draft, going in the third round at No. 80 overall to the Denver Broncos. The UCLA product enters an intriguing situation with the Broncos parting ways with Noah Fant in the blockbuster trade to acquire Russell Wilson from the Seattle Seahawks.

Currently, Albert Okwuegbunam is projected to be the starter due to his better blocking ability, but Dulcich has the vertical passing game ability that brings in the points in fantasy football. Dulcich still needs to improve his blocking to earn more snaps, but there’s a path for him to make some noise as a rookie.

Cade Otton, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

You can’t mention tight end on the Buccaneers without mentioning Rob Gronkowski. Will the star tight end return now that his best buddy Tom Brady is not retiring? That question is still unanswered, so while we wait for that decision, let’s delve into Cade Otton out of Washington.

Otton, the 106th overall pick in the fourth round, is currently projected behind veteran Cameron Brate on the depth chart if Gronk doesn’t suit up. He’s a solid all-around blocker who should immediately make an impact on that front, but his potential in the passing game remains untapped. He didn’t log big passing numbers with the Huskies throughout four seasons, but with Brady throwing the ball, Otton could become the next young tight end Brady helps make a name for himself. 

Jelani Woods, Indianapolis Colts

The Colts landed one heck of a physical specimen with Jelani Woods going 73rd overall in the third round. Now that Matt Ryan is the new starting quarterback, he’ll need to familiarize himself with his new targets. Can Jelani Woods stand out from the crowd? Woods will be competing with Mo Alie-Cox, last year’s No. 1 tight end, and Kylen Granson, a 2021 fourth-rounder, for snaps. 

Woods was primarily a blocking tight end in his first three seasons at Oklahoma State, clocking in at 6-foot-7, 259 pounds. But after transferring to Virginia for his final year, the Cavaliers unlocked a new aspect to his game. Woods caught 44 passes for 598 yards and eight touchdowns. He’s raw, which could limit how good he is right out of the gate, but it wouldn’t be surprising if he picks up the game fast and dominates the position with his rare combination of size and talent.  

Charlie Kolar, Baltimore Ravens

The Ravens went with two tight ends in the fourth round: Charlie Kolar at No. 128 overall and Isaiah Likely at No. 139 overall. Both are likely to become contributors, even though Baltimore prefers to run rather than pass with Lamar Jackson at the helm. 

But Kolar is interesting because at 6-foot-6, 260 pounds, he could develop into a red zone threat for the team. He thrived in that area at Iowa State as a four-year starter, and with the Ravens often running sets incorporating multiple tight ends, Kolar could add some points with red zone touchdowns.