In the ever-evolving fantasy football landscape, tight end has been a polarizing position for managers. Below, we delve into the world of these players who find themselves on the cusp of the dreaded age cliff in fantasy football. With a keen eye on their future production and market value, we explore dynasty buys and sells at the tight end position too. Join us as we navigate the delicate balance between their future production and dynasty fantasy football trade value.
Check out other articles in this series below:
Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs
The most obvious name, Travis Kelce is approaching his age 34 season but has shown no signs of slowing down. He has the most receiving yards per game for a tight end in NFL history and has been the focal point of the league’s most prolific passing attack. Most remarkably, as Kelce has aged, his game has evolved. Kelce was a downfield threat for Mahomes early in his career but ranked merely No. 23 in Average Depth of Target (ADOT) last season. That didn’t matter though as he ranked No. 1 in yards after catch and No. 2 in yards per route run.
Kelce and Mahomes have a special connection, and often times Kelce isn’t even running a designed route. He merely runs to the soft spot in a zone’s coverage and waits for a perfectly thrown ball from his quarterback. Kelce is the smartest tight end in the NFL, and without having to rely on elite athletic ability, he will remain productive into his later thirties. Uncharted territory for most fantasy players, however, Kelce has also remained remarkably healthy in his career. Since his rookie season, he has not missed a single game due to injury.
Ultimately, as long as he remains with Mahomes, Kelce will remain the top tight end in fantasy football. He is capable of doing so for two to three more seasons too given his playing style. There is certainly an argument to be made he is still the top dynasty tight end in fantasy football as a result. Kelce is going at a terrific discount in fantasy football leagues as well considering how many dynasty managers are wary of age.
Dynasty Buys and Sells Verdict: Buy
George Kittle – San Francisco 49ers
Kittle remains the most well-rounded tight end in the NFL with his combination of pass-catching skills and blocking ability. However, despite finishing No. 2 in fantasy points per game among tight ends in 2022, he was closer to the No. 19 scorer than Travis Kelce. While Kittle had a number of impressive performances, he still finished outside the top 10 fantasy tight ends eight times.
Ultimately, Kittle has failed to provide difference-making tight end value each of the last two seasons. He has also been less available than fantasy managers would prefer. Kittle has missed multiple games due to injury each year of his career since 2018. This isn’t to mention the multiple games he was hobbled or limited as well over that span.
What is most problematic, though, is his target share among a very talented group of pass catchers. Despite finishing No. 2 in Route Participation among tight ends, he was only No. 19 in Target Rate. The presence of Christian McCaffrey, Deebo Samuel, and Brandon Aiyuk will once again lead to a muddled target share. This combined with a low volume passing attack will leave him being boom and bust once again in 2023.
Kittle will once again be a safe bet to finish as a top 5 fantasy tight end. Nonetheless, he won’t provide enough fantasy production to justify his current ADP. In dynasty leagues, I have recommended selling Kittle at high points in his value for years. His trade market has remained volatile, with his value steadily declining for years. Regardless, this feels like a high point after a strong end to 2022 that savvy managers should take advantage of.
Dynasty Buys and Sells Verdict: Sell
Darren Waller – New York Giants
After finishing as the TE2 in fantasy football in 2019, Darren Waller has seen his value diminish recently. His fantasy points per game have decreased in back-to-back years, and he has missed 14 games due to injury over that span as well. Waller will look to bounce back with a change of scenery this offseason after a trade to the New York Giants.
Injuries have obviously played a huge part in his decline in fantasy production. However, there are other notable factors too. Waller’s target share has decreased each of the last two seasons, and his Target Separation dropped from No. 5 to No. 32 in the NFL. Another interesting note is his increase in ADOT over that span. Waller’s average depth of target has increased four seasons in a row, with him finishing 2022 No. 1 among tight ends.
Obviously, his role in the Raiders’ offense changed over the last two seasons. Waller has moved from a high-volume player when he first arrived, to a downfield target. Volume shouldn’t be a concern in New York though, as the Giants have one of the NFL’s least talented wide receiver rooms. There have been reports the Giants have had to remove Waller from drills in order to have quarterback Daniel Jones target other players. Ultimately, as long as he is able to stay on the field, he will be the top target in New York.
Daniel Jones & Darren Waller
ARE my League Winning Stack of 2023
— Derek Brown (aka Ugly John Daigle) (@DBro_FFB) August 11, 2023
While tight ends age more gracefully than other positions, Waller is very risky with only two top 15 tight end fantasy finishes in his career. He didn’t break out until his 5th NFL season and has missed significant game time recently. Whether he is a buy or sell in dynasty leagues likely depends on your league though.