As a rule I am downgrading and now starting rookies in Week 1 unless they are named Bijan Robinson. Even Jahmyr Gibbs makes me a little bit nervous. We have seen a lot of slow starts from some truly elite rookie pass catchers, so my expectations for this week are pretty low.
When it comes to tight end, I'm of the mind that expectations should be pretty low for the entire first year, much less the first week. While the 2023 class is supposed to be a pretty special class, I'm mostly OK with making them prove it first. You won't find any of them in my top 12 this week. But Dalton Kincaid is inching closer.
- Week 1 position previews: | |
Adam Aizer first brought up the point on Fantasy Football Today Monday morning. The Jets are so good against wide receivers, so maybe Josh Allen will throw to Kincaid more. I mostly dismissed the idea of Josh Allen shying away from Stefon Diggs, and then I saw this tweet from Sportsline's Jacob Gibbs:
In 2022, Jets opponents were:— Jacob Gibbs (@jagibbs_23) September 7, 2023
15% more likely to target RB
18% more likely to target TE
14% more likely to target the slot
WR vs NYJ accounted for only 51% of team TGT – lowest in the NFL.
QBs did not wanna test these corners.
This is a James Cook (and Dalton Kincaid?) tweet.
Then I went and looked at Allen's two games against the Jets last year. He threw to tight ends at a 18% rate against the Jets last year, compared to 13.4% for the full season. As much as it pains me to type the words, Aizer was correct. If that happens again in Week 1, Kincaid could be a viable Week 1 play, and well on his way to justifying his cost on Draft Day.
Here's everything else you need to know about tight end in Week 1:
Week 1 TE Preview
The following players are not being projected to play Week 1 at this time. Here's what it means:
Numbers to Know
- 28.6% -- Mark Andrews led all tight ends last year with a 28.6% share of his team's targeted air yards. Watch that share in Week 1 to see how Todd Monken impacts that.
- 27.1% -- Chigoziem Okonkwo ranked second among tight ends with a 27.1% target per route run rate, and he projects as a full-time player this season.
- 6 -- Taysom Hill averaged six rush attempts per game last season. He could see even more in Week 1 with Alvin Kamara out.
- 39 -- George Kittle produced 39 yards or fewer in nine of his last 13 games.
- 26.2% -- T.J. Hockenson played 10 games with the Vikings in 2023, but 26.2% of his Fantasy points with them came from two games against the Giants.
- 26.3% -- The Browns were one of five teams with a tight end target percentage over 26% last year. Watch Week 1 to see how that changes after a full offseason for Deshaun Watson.
Matchups that matter
Waiver Wire Targets
LAC L.A. Chargers • #7
Age: 29 • Experience: 7 yrs.
The Dolphins struggled mightily against tight ends last year, allowing the fifth-most Fantasy points to the position. Kellen Moore's offense has traditionally had a big role for the tight end. It's possible you add Everett as a Week 1 streamer and just keep starting him. At the very least, he's an excellent stream in a game with an over/under of 51. There should be plenty of touchdown opportunities.
Taysom Hill QB
NO New Orleans • #7
Age: 33 • Experience: 7 yrs.
In non-PPR, Hill is an excellent stream at tight end. With Alvin Kamara out it wouldn't be surprising if he had an even larger role in the run game. Hill is less appealing in full PPR as we expect Juwan Johnson to earn most of the tight end targets.
Trey McBride TE
ARI Arizona • #85
Age: 24 • Experience: 2 yrs.
If Zach Ertz is out in Week 1, McBride has immense upside in Arizona's offense. In fact, he may grab the TE1 job regardless of Ertz's health.
David Njoku TE
CLE Cleveland • #85
Age: 27 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Kevin Stefanski's offense has traditionally delivered a 26% target share to tight ends and Deshaun Watson was at 22% last year. That should play very well in a shootout against the Bengals. Njoku is my best value on the slate and as a bonus, he's also going to be contrarian. I like him most as a bring back in a Burrow-Chase stack.
Irv Smith TE
CIN Cincinnati • #81
Age: 25 • Experience: 5 yrs.
If you want to get even more contrarian than Njoku, look to the other sideline. The best time to play injury-prone players like Irv Smith is Week 1 when they are fully healthy. Hayden Hurst commanded five targets per game in this offense and Smith is a more dynamic athlete. Smith is just $3,600 on DraftKings, the cheapest of my top 15 tight ends.
My full set of Week 1 Fantasy football projections for every position are now available on SportsLine. Find out which of my favorite plays are projected to score higher than consensus rankings and which don't live up to their draft hype, at least in Week 1. Projected stats for all starting tight ends are available, so be sure to check out the full set of projections at SportsLine.