It’s important to have a core set of beliefs in anything, fantasy football included. Just as important, though, is a willingness to reevaluate those beliefs when presented with new information. That’s what we’ll be doing this week, looking at what changed and what we learned for fantasy football in the 2023 NFL season that we can apply going forward.

 

Today, we tackle the tight end position.

(Follow along with the rest of the series: QBRB | WR)

What Changed in 2023: Tight Ends

It’s No Longer Lonely at the Top

For a while, the tight end position for fantasy football was basically “Travis Kelce and then everybody else.” The future Hall of Famer ran laps around the rest of the field, and the positional advantage he provided week in and week out was one of the greatest cheat codes in all of fantasy football. While Kelce was still a top option this year (TE2 overall, 0.5 PPR), he wasn’t nearly as dominant as he was in years past.

Travis Kelce Kansas City Chiefs What Changed in 2023 Fantasy Football Tight Ends

In 2022, Kelce averaged 15.4 PPG, 4 points better than the No. 2 TE (George Kittle at 11.4).

In 2023 however, Kelce finished the season averaging 11.5 PPG, tied with Sam LaPorta for first. Meanwhile, two additional TEs eclipsed the 11 PPG threshold (T.J. Hockenson and Mark Andrews).

So yes, Kelce was still a great fantasy tight end, but he’s not dominating in the same manner that he used to. When that’s the case, it becomes increasingly difficult to justify his first-round price tag. Kelce will likely still be drafted high in 2024, but the edge he’s previously given fantasy managers seems to have disappeared, and given his age (34), it’s likely not coming back.

Young Guys Make an Impact

Historically TE has been a position that takes about three years before they start to provide any fantasy value. That’s changed a bit in recent years, and 2023 was the year where we really pressed the fast forward button. 

The obvious headliner of the young TE movement is Sam LaPorta, who finished the season as the overall TE1. In addition to LaPorta, two second-year players in Trey McBride and Jake Ferguson both posted top-10 finishes.

So what does this mean for 2024? My major takeaway is I’ll be targeting a lot of these second-year tight ends in my fantasy drafts. Guys like Michael Mayer, Dalton Kincaid and Luke Musgrave likely won’t have lofty ADPs, but they’ll each be presented with major opportunities to make a substantial leap entering year two. Any highly drafted rookies, such as Brock Bowers out of Georgia, will likely be on the radar as well, but formal evaluations for those players won’t come until after the draft.

David Njoku Broke Out with Joe Flacco Under Center

Of course, this year did provide us with one glaring exception to the “young guys rule” mantra mentioned in the last blurb. David Njoku, a 27-year-old former first-round pick experienced one of the more surprising breakouts down the stretch of the 2023 season. 

Njoku has been touted as a potential breakout in year’s past, but this offseason it felt like most had given up on him being anything more than a middling fantasy option. Then Joe Flacco took over…