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Way Too Early Draft Prep: Navigating the Tight End Renaissance In 2024



With the 2023 season coming to a close, many will look to take some time off and decompress. But here at Degenmag, we know the grind doesn't stop, and neither should your fantasy prep. The 2024 season is just around the corner, so let's prepare the best we can. The first step: reflection and adjustments to game theory based on the results of the most recent season. The first notes that come to my mind; The state of the tight end position and how we should change gears come 2024.


Gone are the days of praying for fantasy scraps beyond the holy trinity of Kelce, Andrews, and the occasional Waller cameo. The tight end wasteland has metamorphosed into a fertile valley overflowing with burgeoning talent. This transformation became palpable in the 2023 season, where the "late or great" gamble, once fraught with uncertainty, paid off in abundance. Rookies like LaPorta and resurgent veterans like Hockenson surged to the forefront, reshaping the narrative around tight end scarcity.


Take a look at the top PPR tight ends from the 2023 season:

Rank

Player Name

Team

Final PPR Score

1

Sam LaPorta

DET

225.4

2

Travis Kelce

KC

219.4

3

T.J. Hockenson

MIN

219

4

Evan Engram

JAC

206.4

5

George Kittle

SF

203.2

6

David Njoku

CLE

201.2

7

Cole Kmet

CHI

174

8

Trey McBride

ARI

169.1

9

Jake Ferguson

DAL

164.2

10

Dalton Schultz

HOU

141.3

11

Mark Andrews

BAL

135.4

12

Dalton Kincaid

BUF

134.9

13

Dallas Goedert

PHI

134.9

14

Kyle Pitts

ATL

132.6

That doesn't look so much like a wasteland to me, with 9 players cracking over 150, whereas last season we only saw 6:

2022 TE Season:

Rank

Player Name

Team

Final PPR Score

1

Travis Kelce

KC

316.3

2

T.J. Hockenson

MIN

215.4

3

George Kittle

SF

200.5

4

Mark Andrews

BAL

190.5

5

Evan Engram

JAC

176.9

6

Tyler Higbee

LAR

152

7

Pat Freiermuth

PIT

148.2

8

Cole Kmet

CHI

147.3

9

Taysom Hill

NO

145.8

10

Dalton Schultz

DAL

142.7

11

David Njoku

CLE

142

12

Dallas Goedert

PHI

141.2

13

Gerald Everett

LAC

139.5

14

Dawson Knox

BUF

135.7

The combined top-end decline with higher producers now gravitating towards the middle highlights the evolving dynamics of the tight end position.


The perennial fantasy TE king, Travis Kelce, despite finishing second in fantasy points, has sparked debates about his future trajectory. Some argue that he is riding on the coattails of his name value, displaying signs of wear and tear, such as occasional drops and a perceived slowing of his once-explosive play. The question arises: is Kelce still a first-round pick, or has his age caught up with him?


In light of the expanding pool of viable tight ends, it is crucial to reassess draft strategies. The once justifiable Kelce-or-bust mentality now appears outdated. Instead, consider redirecting early-round picks towards game-changing running backs and wide receivers, confident in the potential top-5 tight ends available in the mid-rounds. Players like Njoku, McBride, Kincade, and Pitts (I am a Pitts Truther and will stand by this) present enticing prospects in the mid-rounds, rendering the traditional scarcity mindset obsolete.


An aside to shamelessly plug Kyle Pitts: If Atlanta secures a franchise quarterback and sheds the constraints of the Arthur Smith offensive scheme, 2024 could mark the year when Pitts truly explodes onto the fantasy scene. While this narrative warrants attention, it also underscores the overarching theme of embracing the abundance at tight end and adapting to the evolving landscape.


Late-round tight ends have historically been a gamble, but the 2023 season saw the emergence of game-winning performances from unexpected sources. Kmet and Ferguson proved that their occasional explosiveness could offset the inconsistency, adding depth to the tight end position. While their fantasy outputs may not rival the top-tier options, their late-round potential offers value that complements a roster built on dominance in other positions. 


If we had implemented this plan in 2023, considering the 2023 Average Draft Positions (ADPs), your fantasy lineup could have included two top 3 wide receivers with CeeDee Lamb in Round 1 and Amon-Ra St. Brown in Round 2. Additionally, you could have secured a stud running back like Breece Hall in Round 3, all while adding a mid-round tight end who concluded the season in the top 5 at the position, feasting alongside them. The inconsistency that often plagues late tight ends becomes inconsequential when juxtaposed against the points delivered by this formidable trio, and even more so when the TE positional inconsistency seems to be a thing of the past.


As the 2024 fantasy draft looms, drafters are presented with a unique set of opportunities and challenges. The tight end position, once a realm of scarcity, now beckons with an abundance of talent. By discarding the outdated Kelce-or-bust mentality, savvy drafters can strategically allocate early-round picks, ensuring a roster stacked with high-impact running backs and wide receivers. The mid-rounds offer a treasure trove of tight end options, from proven performers to emerging stars, allowing for a flexible and dynamic draft strategy. As the fantasy landscape evolves, those who embrace the abundance, shunning the scarcity mindset, stand poised to outmaneuver their competition and secure the coveted championship trophy.


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