Dynasty League Football


2022 Rookie Tight End Reactions

Hutchinson Brown shares his thoughts on some of the top tight ends in the 2022 class and their debut seasons.

Jelani Woods

I have already written about the 2022 rookie quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers. If you missed them, I would suggest you check those out first and then come back here to finish the rookie reactions series with the tight end position.

Trey McBride, ARI

As the general consensus number-one tight end in the class, some were a bit disappointed when the athletic specimen McBride was selected by the Cardinals in the second round of the 2022 NFL Draft. That landing spot had him cemented behind DeAndre Hopkins, Marquise Brown, and another tight end on the roster, Zach Ertz.

McBride did not become fantasy-relevant of any sort until the end of the season. With Ertz injured, in his last five games played, McBride was able to put up 20 catches on 28 targets for 219 yards and a single touchdown. While I am not an expert on film and analyzing it, I did go back and also watch his catches from the true breakout game against the Falcons in week 17, where he caught seven passes for 78 yards and a touchdown. He displayed some top-tier athleticism in his route running and his yards after-the-catch ability.

In 2023, he has a major opportunity in front of him. The Cardinals are likely going to be losing Hopkins this off-season, and Ertz at his age after a major knee injury is anything but optimistic for his play on the field. McBride has a clear path to be the number two option in the passing game in this offense which for a tight end, is extremely valuable. The quarterback position may be a concern with Kyler Murray potentially not being ready for week one, but McBride showed he was able to produce with backup-level quarterbacks at the end of the 2022 season.

In dynasty, it feels like he has been sort of forgotten due to a rookie season that was pretty lacking. I would be trying to buy him for a second-round pick. Most trades I am finding on the DLF Trade Finder tool show him as a throw-in to a lot of bigger trades, but he should be viewed as much more than that. He is a great athlete at the tight end position and he is set up to be a top receiving option in his offense moving forward.

Jelani Woods, IND

Woods is an absolute tank, standing at six foot seven inches and 275 pounds. He is quite a good blocker, but he is actually an impressive athlete as well. Both his speed and his burst scores are in the 94th percentile, and he ran a 4.61-second 40-yard dash at the NFL Combine – the fastest 40 of any tight end since 2003. During his rookie season, he was fourth in the entire NFL in average depth of target, meaning that he was looked at down the field more often compared to other tight ends. For fantasy football, that is excellent because the tight ends who are getting targets down the field are going to produce.

He is not just a great athlete, but his catch radius also sits in the 98th percentile, and he showed us flashes of that pass-catching ability down the stretch. He caught 18 of 27 targets for 233 yards in his last six games played, and even had an eight-catch game, flashing some good athleticism and pass-catching ability.

If you cannot already tell, Woods is a screaming buy in dynasty leagues because he is the type of tight end you want to take a dart throw at. He is a great athlete who can work in different areas of the field and has a clear shot to be the number two option in his offense.

A rookie quarterback may sound scary, but a six foot seven, 275-pound monster with a 10.8-foot catch radius is going to be a safe option for a rookie to lean on and develop great chemistry with. As long as he gets a decent target share, he should come through as a good fantasy tight end, and has a high ceiling. I would go to the Woods manager in your dynasty league and see what you can do.

Greg Dulcich, DEN

The Broncos offense was quite the disappointment in 2023. Russell Wilson looked very limited on the field, the wide receivers did not consistently produce fantasy numbers, and Javonte Williams sadly went down to a brutal knee injury early on. However, Dulcich was a huge bright spot in this offense. In weeks six through sixteen, he played in ten contests and put up 33 receptions on 55 Wilson targets for 411 yards. He caught two of the 29 total Broncos touchdowns through the 2022 season as well.

While he only had some fantasy success, he flashed the ability to be a very serviceable NFL player and was able to take the clear leadership position in the tight end room. For a rookie tight end drafted in the second round, that is very impressive, to say the least.

There is much reason to be excited about him. His yards-per-catch average was an impressive number for his position at 12.5, and when you watch him play you see plenty of the down-the-field shots heading his way. Due to Wilson and his struggles, a lot of them were horrific throws, but there were many targets down the field. You want tight ends who are getting down the field and making big plays, and Dulcich displayed the athletic ability to do that.

While there is reason to be excited, you also have to consider the offense he is in. Firstly, the Broncos’ defense is fantastic, even if the offense plays poorly again they will not be forced to throw heavily very often because their defense will keep them in the game. With Javonte Williams and that backfield, Jerry Jeudy, and Courtland Sutton already demanding a target share, he is left in a pretty bad spot for volume. While improvement could come through a wide receiver trade or just a Wilson step forward with Sean Payton as the coach, if this offense is anything close to what it was last season, Dulcich will be in a pretty bad spot for fantasy purposes. The lack of volume to go around and the lack of touchdowns

While there are arguments for both sides, I want to trust the talent of Greg Dulcich and want to try and buy him in a dynasty league if I can get him for a reasonable price. Some managers may not want to move him, and that is okay, you may just miss out. However, if you can find a reasonable offer, I want to take that shot on this talent.

Chigoziem Okonkwo, TEN

Now this is a prospect to get really excited about. Okonkwo displayed some great things in his rookie season. His fantasy value was volatile due to a questionable target number, but he was able to put together some great plays and help this Tennessee passing offense, which for a tight end is excellent to see.

He has shown to be a great athlete; he ran the fastest 40-yard time by a tight end at the combine with a 4.52 seconds at six foot two inches, 243 pounds. On the field for the Titans, he displayed the ability to make plays down the field. He was fourth among tight ends in 20+ yard catches with 14, and also displayed a major ability to make yards after the catch as he led all tight ends in yards after catch per reception.

He is clearly a great athlete, but will this offense be able to supply him with enough effective volume to succeed? The Titans have been 30th, 26th, and 30th in the past three years in pass attempts per game. To see just six targets a game in 2022, he would need a 20.4% target share, which is not unrealistic, but is a pretty high mark to hit as a tight end. In order for him to become more consistent for fantasy and reach his true potential, he is going to need more volume than what he was seeing towards the end of 2022.

That could come naturally with a 20% target share if Okonkwo truly has a breakout, but it could also come through an increase in volume from the Titans passing offense. Derrick Henry is approaching age 30 with a lot of miles on his legs, and the Titans losing many defensive pieces this off-season. As a result, they may be put in scenarios where they are forced to throw a lot more, which could give our tight end prospect a major opportunity for volume.

Even with some concerns about the surrounding offense, I want to buy into the talent of Okonkwo. You do not often see tight ends with the ability to stretch the field and do damage with the ball in their hands like him. Look at many of the elite tight ends in fantasy and the majority of them are elite athletes. If you want a dart throw at some upside, Okonkwo is your chance at it. All he needs is an uptick in volume and he will come through as a great fantasy tight end.

In dynasty, some managers may be reluctant to move him, but if you find the right manager you can easily slip a second-round rookie pick for him in a superflex league or a player near that value, which sounds very enticing. Send an offer out there and see what you can do!

That is the last of the rookie reactions series. Thank you all for reading this series and going on this journey with me.

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2022 Rookie Tight End Reactions
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joseph kepple
1 month ago

This series is very positive. I agree with a lot of these but I’m not sure every player in most sections are all huge buys. These guys can’t all hit. Can they? Odds say no.

jonathan yates
Reply to  joseph kepple
1 month ago

My thoughts exactly… everybody is a buy

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