The tight end position in fantasy football is one that many people choose to wait on in their drafts. After all, if you’re not grabbing a truly elite tight end like Travis Kelce or Mark Andrews, is there any reason to prioritize the position? Even if you do choose to draft an elite tight end early due to the positional scarcity advantage, it still could be worth taking a late-round tight end for insurance. Sometimes, there is even an obvious handcuff (think Isaiah Likely for Andrews).
There are two pathways for a tight end to create value for your fantasy football team. They either need a clear path to targets or a clear nose for the end zone. In the later rounds, it’s often easier to gamble on the touchdown route, but there are also a few options available late that could have a pathway to targets.
Late-Round Fliers: QB | RB | WR
Here are five tight ends worth a look in the later rounds of your draft. All of these tight ends are going after pick 12 at the position.
Sam LaPorta, Lions
LaPorta is my favorite of the late-round picks, as he has an immediate pathway to becoming the number two target for Jared Goff for at least until Jameson Williams returns from his six-game suspension. The second-round pick out of Iowa has already impressed in camp for a Lions team expected to be the best in their division. We saw T.J. Hockenson have plenty of success in this offense, and let’s not forget head coach Dan Campbell was a tight end himself.
Greg Dulcich, Broncos
With news of Tim Patrick’s season-ending injury and KJ Hamler’s injury concerns, Dulcich could see more targets than people realize. His 43.1 yards per game in 2022 ranked ninth at the position. Among tight ends with at least 10 targets last year, Dulcich’s 12.7 aDOT was third-best behind only Darren Waller and Kyle Pitts. Running real routes can turn into real opportunities.
Juwan Johnson, Saints
Chris Olave and Michael Thomas are expected to be the top two targets in New Orleans, but does anyone expect Thomas to remain healthy for the entire season? Johnson is a converted wide receiver that runs many of his routes out of the slot (57.3%) and scored more than 30% of the team’s touchdowns in 2022 — the fourth-highest rate among tight ends.
Tyler Higbee, Rams
After Cooper Kupp, the receiving corps in Los Angeles is pretty uninspiring. Last season was slightly disappointing for those who drafted Higbee at his ADP, but he still finished fourth among tight ends in targets (108) and fifth in receptions (72). With the return of Matthew Stafford, we should see a better season out of Higbee, and there isn’t much to lose at his current ADP.
Zach Ertz, Cardinals
Ertz’s 2022 season was shortened with a torn ACL and MCL, but Zach Ertz was the TE3 in PPR through the first nine weeks before the injury in Week 10. Ertz was also responsible for 30.8% of the team’s touchdowns despite playing in only 10 games. He could miss the first few games of the season, but with no DeAndre Hopkins and Rondale Moore yet to make a significant impression as the potential WR2, Ertz could be a draft-day steal.
- 2023 Fantasy Football Draft Kit