Fantasy Football 2023: Tight end salary cap draft rankings tiers

We’ve finally made it to the Shuffle Up series for the new fantasy football draft season. The dollar values you'll see below are unscientific in nature but reflect how I see the clusters of talent at the tight end position. Use these tiers however you like.

The other main positions (quarterbacks, running backs, wide receivers) will be shuffled in the next couple of weeks.

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Have some disagreements? Good, that’s why we have a game. I welcome your reasoned disagreement over at Twitter: @scott_pianowski.

The Big Tickets

$25 Travis Kelce

$21 Mark Andrews

$18 T.J. Hockenson

$18 Dallas Goedert

$16 George Kittle

$16 Kyle Pitts

Kelce’s fantasy profile is too good to be true; consider his finishes over his last seven years: TE1, TE2, TE1, TE1, TE1, TE2, TE1. I suppose there’s a mild concern of him entering an age-34 season, but given that he’s tied to Patrick Mahomes and Andy Reid — this scheme loves to cook up short touchdowns for Kelce in the red area — the floor remains awfully high, and the ceiling keeps Kelce in the first round . . . Andrews graded as the TE5 last year despite missing two games (and missing Lamar Jackson for several others). Andrews has a wide-receiver skill set and is capable of scoring from anywhere on the field. Baltimore’s offensive scheme is getting a fresh coat of paint (new OC Todd Monken) at the right time . . . Hockenson has a good setup in Minnesota, where he’ll always be one of the priorities for Kirk Cousins, but defenses will be primarily worried about superstar wideout Justin Jefferson. It’s interesting, though, that Hockenson has never scored more than six times in any season, and his yards per catch fell from 15.2 with the Lions to 8.7 after the trade to the Vikings . . .

Goedert has the talent to be the TE1 someday, but the Eagles have two superstar receivers pushing for heavy targets as well, not to mention a bushel of short touchdowns earmarked for Jalen Hurts and his rushing chops. Still, Goedert is worth chasing if you believe he hasn't had his best season yet; the Eagles have a 123.1 rating when they target him over the last two years . . . Somehow Kyle Pitts has just three touchdowns in 27 pro games, which is largely a comment on head coach Arthur Smith and the ordinary quarterback play in Atlanta. If you’re expecting a Year 3 spike from Pitts, it means you’re a believer in Desmond Ridder, stepping into his first full season in the pilot’s chair. Ridder probably isn’t a kingmaker, but we’re merely asking him to be better than Marcus Mariota was last year. That’s a reasonable request.

Legitimate Building Blocks

$13 Darren Waller

$11 Evan Engram

$10 Pat Freiermuth

$10 David Njoku

$10 Chigoziem Okonkwo

$9 Greg Dulcich

$8 Cole Kmet

$8 Tyler Higbee

Okonkwo showed downfield juice and was an efficiency darling on limited opportunities last year. A workload spike is expected, even with DeAndre Hopkins joining the wide-receiver room . . . Waller is coming off two injury-wrecked seasons and is now changing teams into his age-31 season. The best coaches work talent to scheme, not the other way around, but we also have to consider Brian Daboll offenses have rarely prioritized the tight end . . . Freiermuth had a low touchdown count last year, which was the story with everyone in the Pittsburgh passing game. But Kenny Pickett showed flashes of being at least competent at the end of the year — with a whiff of upside — and Freiermuth has the type of physical profile that should lead to plenty of red-zone opportunity . . .

Dulcich impressed when healthy last year, and it’s plausible that new head coach Sean Payton might be able to push Russell Wilson back into a productive season . . . Kmet’s TE7 finish was driven by touchdown deodorant, but now he has to deal with a healthy Darnell Mooney and new acquisition DJ Moore. Kmet could easily add 20 targets to last year’s total and still see his end-of-year rank come down.

Talk Them Up, Talk Them Down

$7 Dalton Schultz

$6 Gerald Everett

$5 Juwan Johnson

$4 Dawson Knox

$4 Mike Gesicki

$4 Irv Smith Jr.

$3 Taysom Hill

$3 Hunter Henry

$3 Noah Fant

$3 Dalton Kincaid

Gesicki was a square peg in Miami’s round-hole offense last year, but Bill O’Brien should be a boost for him this time around. And the Patriots need jumbo receiver Gesicki to pop, given the ordinary wide receiver group they’ve collected . . . Johnson has a reasonable path to lead the Saints in receiving touchdowns; Chris Olave is the only difference-maker dragging significant targets from the wideouts . . . Schultz doesn’t offer much vertical playmaking, and the Houston offense is a major step down from Dallas; we can’t expect C.J. Stroud to take off immediately, and we don’t even know if he’s the opening-day starter . . .

[2023 Salary Cap Rankings Tiers: QB | RB | WR | TE]

Generally we want to watch rookie tight ends but not draft them for fantasy purposes, but the Bills have been glowing in their early praise for Kincaid. Perhaps we have a rule-breaker on our hands.

Bargain Bin

$2 Trey McBride

$2 Zach Ertz

$2 Hayden Hurst

$2 Jake Ferguson

$1 Jelani Woods

$1 Isaiah Likely

$1 Sam LaPorta

$1 Logan Thomas

$1 Michael Mayer

$1 Cade Otton

$1 Austin Hooper

$1 Daniel Bellinger

$1 Luke Musgrave

$1 Tyler Conklin