How many elite or good tight ends are legitimately available? Hint: You won't need more than two hands to count them.
For every other tight end, matchups are a factor. Not as much as target volume or tendency of the quarterback are factors, but a factor nonetheless. Defenses that register as strong or weak against tight ends have traditionally been reliable.
I made it my mission to seek out the defenses that I believe will be tough against tight ends, along with the easy ones. Through grading player personnel and studying schemes specific to defending this specific position, I've created a Projected Strength of Schedule (PSoS) for every team's tight ends.
You should find this fairly useful when you're unsure of who to draft between two tight ends, or if you're looking for that over-the-top rationale to select (or not select) a player. You'll also know which tight ends could get you off to a hot start, which is really important if you plan on streaming the position.
Season-long PSoS for TEs
Weeks 1-4 PSoS for TEs
Weeks 15-17 PSoS for TEs
T.J. Hockenson: Adding downfield speed suggests the Lions plan on being more diverse with their passing game in 2022. But then you remember who the quarterback is and Hockenson still should be in line for good target volume. Now we can tack on a top-10 PSoS in each of the three above sectors, including a top-7 projected schedule through Week 4. There's less reason to be apprehensive to take him in drafts.
Cole Kmet: With 88 career catches, three games with over 50 yards and two touchdowns, the Bears tight end has been a disappointment thus far into his career. In his favor is a top-3 PSoS for the 2022 season and a top-10 PSoS for the first four weeks. Given Chicago's unexciting-on-paper receiving corps, Kmet may get the chance to contribute in a big way game after game.
Albert Okwuegbunam: It's impossible to ignore the Broncos' top rank in both early-season and full-season PSoS. Okwuegbunam figures to be the one to benefit the most, especially since he'll start the year against the Seahawks and Texans. It's a crowded receiving corps, and 24.3% of Russell Wilson's career touchdown passes have gone to tight ends, but the opportunity is still there.
Gerald Everett: Want a sleeper? Everett has nearly the same good fortune as Okwuegbunam. Must have something to do with the AFC West's schedules. Like Okwuegbunam, Everett is part of a crowded receiving corps, and 23.1% of Justin Herbert's touchdown throws have hit tight ends. But also, the schedule is favorable early on and into the season. Unlike Okwuegbunam, nobody is thinking about drafting Everett, which makes him a decent last-round choice.
Adam Trautman: The Saints finished in the top-7 in each PSoS sector, suggesting that there won't be many speed bumps for their tight ends this season. Trautman seems like the best possible option in New Orleans, and Jameis Winston's penchant for leaning on his tight ends should further benefit him. Two of Trautman's first three games this year are against the Falcons and Panthers.
Mike Gesicki: I know Gesicki isn't really a typical tight end, but he's probably going to get covered like one. He's also a virtual lock to finish no higher than third on the Dolphins in targets, he's caught exactly four career scores in two years from Tua Tagovailoa, and the schedule is brutal including a league-worst early-season PSoS.
Pat Freiermuth: The Steelers PSoS for their tight ends is in the bottom half in each PSoS sector including 10th-worst full-season PSoS. There's some hope that whoever pilots the Pittsburgh pass game prefers Freiermuth like Ben Roethlisberger did, but he might prove to be nothing more than a touchdown-needy tight end for Fantasy. The schedule doesn't help.
Dawson Knox: It's great that Knox has been Josh Allen's most reliable tight end, but it's not great that the Bills' schedule appears to be tough for him. Not only will the Rams matchup in Week 1 challenge him, but safety Kevin Byard waits in Week 2 before the Dolphins, Ravens and Steelers in Weeks 3 through 5 come calling.
Stream them early
(These tight ends have an easy early-season PSoS but their schedule gets tougher starting in October.)
- Noah Fant
- David Njoku
Stream them later
(These tight ends have a tough early-season PSoS but their schedule improves dramatically starting in October.)
- Austin Hooper
- Hunter Henry, Jonnu Smith
- whoever plays TE for the Giants