It should not come as a shock to anyone that the free agency class at tight end for the 2023 offseason is pretty weak. Guess what: It's a pretty weak position, and it has been for a while. That may change at some point in the future – maybe the vaunted 2023 draft class will help – but right now, there is hardly a surplus of talent at tight end.
The biggest name at the position definitely won't be changing teams, as the Jaguars hit Evan Engram with the franchise tag before Tuesday's deadline, ensuring he'll return to Jacksonville – they're already working on a long-term extension with the hope of keeping him there for multiple years, which seems like pretty good news after Engram finished as the No. 5 tight end in PPR scoring in 2022.
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However, that might actually not be the best thing for Engram's value. Sure, he seems likely to be tied to an ascending young quarterback for the foreseeable future in Trevor Lawrence, one who showed a lot of trust in him. That connection allowed Engram to post some of the best efficiency metrics, with a 74.5% catch rate and 7.8 yards per target.
The problem is, Engram is returning to an awfully crowded receiving corps. He was already third in targets behind last year's free agent adds, Christian Kirk and Zay Jones, and now he has to compete for targets with Calvin Ridley, who was reinstated from his suspension this week and figures to step in as the team's top target. That pushes Engram further down the hierarchy and makes it even more unlikely he'll get to the 100-target mark. He's my No. 10 tight end for 2023, and while I don't think there's much room for him to rise from there, there probably isn't much room for him to fall.
Engram's had a pretty bumpy road to get here, but he feels like a pretty safe option at a position lacking in them. He may not have a ton of upside, but he'll probably be a tight end you don't have to worry about in your lineup, and that makes him a pretty valuable player.
All that being said, there is one tight end also heading into free agency who I have ranked a bit higher than Engram. He headlines the biggest names at the position this offseason, and his landing spot could very well change his Fantasy appeal considerably.
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Top FA tight ends
Schultz is far from the best athlete at the tight end position. In fact, he's a pretty pedestrian athlete, ranking right around the positional average in 40-yard dash and speed score (which accounts for speed and size) and most of the physical metrics, too. His production was pretty pedestrian last season as well as he finished 11th in PPR points per game, though I will point out that he did that while playing through a knee injury that saw him go without a catch in consecutive games in Weeks 4 and 5; he moves up to TE7 in points per game if you exclude those two. He's been a reliable Fantasy tight end in the Dallas offense, but it's fair to view him as pretty context dependent. If he returns to Dallas or signs with another good passing offense, he'll probably remain a viable starting option, but he could very well follow the path of someone like Austin Hooper, who faded into obscurity when he switched teams.
Gesicki seems all but certain to switch teams this offseason, after he saw his role dramatically diminished in Mike McDaniels' offense. Gesicki is an elite athlete who helps stretch the field up the seams, and he's best used in an offense that will split him out wide and throw it down the field. He's never going to be a George Kittle or Travis Kelce type who makes plays with the ball in his hands – Gesicki has broken three tackles on 231 career receptions – but he could thrive in a Mark Andrews-type role. Landing spot will be important, but it's easy to see Gesicki ending up as a top-12 TE if he lands in a spot like the Chargers or Saints.
Injuries have robbed Smith of the breakout potential we once saw in him, but he won't be 25 until training camp and remains an intriguing talent if those injuries haven't robbed him of his athleticism. Smith's appeal remains largely theoretical, and he doesn't have ideal size to dominate the position. But on a short prove-it deal, he could surprise like Evan Engram a year ago.
Sleepers to watch
Moreau has had his moments filling in for Darren Waller over the past few seasons, and he'll only be 26 next season, with a pretty impressive athletic profile. The production hasn't really been there consistently, either in college or the pros, but if he gets a chance to start, he could surprise.
Tonyan hasn't come close to replicating his 11-touchdown season from 2020, but he showed some flashes last season despite coming back from a torn ACL. It would be interesting to see Tonyan follow Aaron Rodgers wherever he ends up, to see if they can recapture some of that 2020 magic, though he's never actually been the kind of every-down, high-usage tight end we typically prefer to target in Fantasy. He has the athletic profile for it, however, and maybe he can find a breakout opportunity now that he's another year removed from the knee injury. I don't think it'll happen in Green Bay, but he could potentially be a late bloomer, ala Gerald Everett, if he lands in the right spot.