After Bijan Robinson, the three quarterbacks, and Jaxon Smith-Njigba are selected in 2023 dynasty rookie drafts, dynasty managers will ultimately select Dalton Kincaid first out of this strong group of tight ends. But as the first round closes, there are two studs still on the board and a select few as the draft rolls on.
Who are the top sleepers, targets, and fades at the tight end position in 2023 dynasty rookie drafts?
Drafting soon? Check out The Wolf’s 2023 Rookie Rankings.
Dalton Kincaid is the consensus rookie TE1. But, the greatest challenger to Kincaid’s throne from this class would be _____. Why?
MICHAEL MAYER: Sam LaPorta is a worthy contender — he should see steady volume in a Lions offense that looks to take it into another gear in Ben Johnson’s second year calling plays. He’s already been a red zone menace in OTAs too.
Still, long term, I like Mayer as perhaps the most complete tight end of this class. He enters a Raiders offense that vacated both Darren Waller and Foster Moreau and will be playing with check-down Jimmy Garoppolo, who’s no stranger to feeding the position. Rookie TEs often take a while to start, but with Mayer so solid all-around, he could be a strong TE1 from day one. Josh McDaniels will waste no time making Mayer a strong piece.
SAM LAPORTA: Even though Michael Mayer could earn more snaps as the better blocker, LaPorta’s use in formations was wider at Iowa and his pass-catching role naturally seems higher with the Lions than Mayer’s Raiders.
SAM LAPORTA: Opportunity is king, even at the tight end position. LaPorta has shown out at camp already and comes from the TE factory, Iowa. No Hock there to vulture work. High-octane offense. High T tight end lover HC. The narrative writes itself!
MICHAEL MAYER: I think Michael Mayer and Sam Laporta are both good bets to end up as the TE1 of this class. Kincaid finished with the best landing spot in the Buffalo Bills, Mayer had an elite production profile in college, and LaPorta tore apart the NFL combine with a decent production profile himself. I love drafting both Mayer and Laporta in the early second round of rookie drafts. If I had to choose one, I’d gamble on Mayer’s elite college production. But LaPorta is a fantastic consolation prize.
SAM LAPORTA: I feel that his size and skills are similar to TJ Hockenson and without anyone to really challenge LaPorta for the TE1 position in Detroit, it seems to be his already. Also, with the talent around him, he could be running free and racking up fantasy points.
Once the Big 3 of Kincaid, Sam LaPorta, and Michael Mayer are off the board, the next rookie TE that should be targeted is ____. Why?
LUKE MUSGRAVE: My personal jury is still out on Jordan Love, but he’s shown glimpses, and the praise from his teammates and coaches is effusive. What else is it gonna be? I agree. But it doesn’t hurt to hear.
With Rodgers taking his gang out of town, the path is clear for some young guys to vie for pieces of Love’s pie. Christian Watson and Romeo Doubs are two favorite redraft and dynasty targets of mine, but Musgrave could carve out a solid role behind those two and Aaron Jones.
I question how much passing pie will be available, and if the fourth mouth can be truly reliable in Year 1. But at minimum, the upside for a strong red zone presence is here — and Musgrave apparently spent the entire spring running with the ones.
LUKE MUSGRAVE: I think injuries prevented us from seeing his full potential, and even though Tucker Kraft joins him in Green Bay, I like Musgrave’s odds of becoming the team’s top receiving option at tight end.
LUKE SCHOONMAKER: Dallas, as an organization, has a proud history with tight ends and tight ends found success, somehow, with McCarthy calling the shots in the past. No Schultz, no problem. Chances for opportunity at the position and the ability to create after the catch are essentially all you can bank on at the tight end position.
LUKE MUSGRAVE: The Packers spent good draft capital on Musgrave (42nd overall) while having a clear need for a starting TE. Musgrave is ultra-athletic, hitting 22 mph according to Senior Bowl GPS data. Overall, the NFL invested significant draft capital in this TE class. Don’t be afraid to take Musgrave as a mid to late second-round pick in your rookie draft.
LUKE MUSGRAVE: I would have to lean with Luke Musgrave. I am not sure about Jordan Love’s potential which could limit the tight end, but he seems to be in line to take the majority of tight end receiving snaps. With opportunity comes potential at this position.
Because TE often takes at least 1 year to bloom… which Year 2 TE (from the 2022 class) do you see taking a major leap in 2023? Why?
GREG DULCICH: There’s a lot of intrigue among Year 2 TEs for this class — particularly Chig Okonkwo, Greg Dulcich, and – pending Zach Ertz’s status – Trey McBride. Of the trio, I’m most into Dulcich.
It took Sean Payton a minute to warm up, but after OTAs, the offensive guru left with a “vision” of how to use the athletic sophomore. He actually was seventh in Air Yards despite missing significant time, and was one of the few players Russ seemed actually fairly steady with. Payton mentioned the “Joker” role while discussing Dulcich, bringing up names of PPR heroes like Alvin Kamara, Reggie Bush, and Jimmy Graham. I don’t expect Dulcich to reach those heights, and I do have my doubts about Russ… but the fact Dulcich is even in the conversation in Payton’s eyes should not be discounted. I love him as a buy at his price in all formats, dynasty & redraft.
TREY MCBRIDE: The former Colorado State product doesn’t need Kyler playing to produce, and the Cardinals are probably going to be more interested in Trey continuing to develop on the field rather than prioritizing Zach Ertz’s age-33 season in what everyone expects to be a down year for the team.
GREG DULCICH: The guy is an athletic freak in line for the sexy Taysom Hill, Joker role. I buy that narrative and I was happy playing Dulcich in 2022, most of the time. Plus, he already flashed his talent. Sean Payton will bring out the most of him.
TREY MCBRIDE: McBride was the first TE selected in the 2022 NFL Draft after winning the Mackey Award for the nation’s top tight end. He tested well at the NFL Combine and dominated his college competition, albeit at a lower level at Colorado State. With Zach Ertz still recovering from ACL surgery, I expect McBride to run a ton of routes for the Cardinals this year. The offense may not be very efficient until Kyler Murray comes back. However, with late-round tight ends, I love to chase high route numbers.
TREY MCBRIDE: DeAndre Hopkins is no longer around and Zach Ertz is coming off multiple knee tears, so I wouldn’t be surprised if McBride started as the TE1 in Arizona. Also, in a room full of shrimps, he is one of the only big-bodied pass-catchers on the team. If they make it to the red zone, he could be the No. 1 option down in the red area.