Fantasy Football TE Breakouts 2023: Potential tight end sleepers

For the majority of teams, tight ends are typically the tertiary option in their respective offenses’ pecking orders. There are obviously outliers like Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews who sit as their team’s de facto No. 1 wide receiver, but most fantasy football owners are forced to start tight ends with high-variance week-to-week scoring production. Fortunately, our list of 2023 fantasy TE sleepers can help you spot some potential late-round breakouts if you aren’t lucky enough to draft Kelce or Andrews.

The high variance of this position group makes it challenging to identify legit sleepers, but given the relatively low ADPs for most of the mid-to-lower-tiered TEs, there’s inevitably going to be a handful of tight ends who end the season exceeding expectations and outperforming ADPs.

Our sleeper list attempts to pinpoint tight ends with ample opportunities for targets and touchdowns, whether it’s because they boast high route participation numbers or are flexed within an efficient offense likely to make several trips to the red zone each week.

Last season, Jaguars TE Evan Engram entered Week 1 as our No. 28 TE in standard formats and No. 27 TE in PPR after an underwhelming finish to his tenure with the Giants. Not many fantasy pundits, including ourselves, expected Engram to end the season as the overall TE6 in standard and TE5 in PPR formats, but he blossomed in his role as Trevor Lawrence’s primary underneath receiving option for the eventual AFC South division winners.

Which overlooked TE can breakthrough and significantly exceed his ADP this season? While we’re not sure he’s able to end the regular season as the overall TE 6 in standard and TE5 in PPR, we think there’s a chance perennial sleeper Irv Smith Jr. finally puts together a complete season, following a similar trajectory to Engram this season. Sure, there are a lot of mouths to feed in Cincinnati’s offense, but there’s a chance Smith Jr. becomes a trusted red-zone target of Joe Burrow’s. The Bengals’ offense ended 2022 with the eighth-most red zone trips and another similar finish this season could result in Smith Jr. putting up a career-best TD output.

Fantasy owners should also be on the lookout for breakout seasons from second-year TEs Chigoziem Okonkwo, Jake Ferguson, and Jelani Woods along with rookies Sam LaPorta and Michael Mayer.

Those TEs highlight this year’s crop of potential sleepers at tight end, and below, we’ll detail why we think each player could help your fantasy team post more “W’s” than “L’s” this season.

Fantasy Football TE Sleepers 2023: Potential tight end breakouts

Chigoziem Okonkwo, Titans

Although the addition of DeAndre Hopkins seemingly limits Okonkwo’s ceiling, the second-year tight end is now penciled in as the Titans TE1 thanks to a solid final stretch to his rookie campaign. From Weeks 13-18, Okonkwo sat as the overall TE7 in PPR and TE8 in standard formats, scoring 59.9 PPR points and 38.9 standard points.

Assuming he sees an increased snap share now that Austin Hooper is with the Raiders, Okonkwo has TE1 upside this season. Sure, sitting as the tertiary receiving option in a run-heavy offense doesn’t give Okonkwo the highest ceiling, but given he led all TEs in yards per route run (3.26) and ranked second in yards per target (9.8), he might only need a three-to-four receptions per game to end the year as a top-10 TE.

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