We asked four analysts to reveal a breakout tight end candidate to help you have an idea of players ready to exceed expectations at fantasy football's toughest position to fill.
Kyle Pitts, Atlanta Falcons
Pitts is returning from knee surgery but is still just 22 years old and has the upside to finish as fantasy’s No. 1 tight end this season. He led all TEs in air yards during his 10 active games last season, when he also finished first in targets per route run at the position. While Desmond Ridder remains a work in progress, there’s little doubt Pitts will see far better quarterback play in 2024. Marcus Mariota was the least accurate deep passer in the league last year. In fact, Pitts saw the highest percentage of uncatchable targets among all pass catchers in 2022.
Pitts plays indoors on a Falcons team with a highly concentrated target tree. He’s drawn more DPI penalties than Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews combined on 373 fewer targets. Pitts is about to explode. — Dalton Del Don
Pat Freiermuth, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers wide receiver group has the potential to be a quality trio, but I still find myself clicking Pat Freiermuth quite a lot in drafts. As Scott Pianowski noted in the All-Boring Team, there are flashier options than Freiermuth at tight but he's got substance over style. His 17.6% target share and 0.23 targets per route run reflect a high-volume player. If Kenny Pickett takes a step, this whole offense can be better. Freiermuth is consistently available in the eighth or ninth round. — Matt Harmon
Chigoziem Okonkwo, Tennessee Titans
It took a while for Okonkwo to enter the circle of trust as a rookie, but when he finally arrived, the results were exciting. He had single catches in Weeks 8, 9, and 10, but those grabs went for 48, 41 and 31 yards. Those are rare plays for any tight end. The Titans made Okonkwo a featured player the rest of the season, with the rookie totaling 24-278-2 over the final seven games, making him around the TE11 or TE12 for that period, depending on format.
Okonkwo is still learning as a blocker and his snap share might be limited to open the season. I'm not concerned about that. This passing game desperately needs playmakers and the Titans eventually will focus on what Okonkwo does well. It might take a few games to develop, but Okonkwo is ready to be a top-10 tight end, and there's upside to finish inside the TE5 cutline. This from someone who is typically coming off the board in the double-digit rounds. — Scott Pianowski
Sam LaPorta, Detroit Lions
The rookie should find himself with early playing time. Lions beat writer Tim Twentyman has already surmised that the tight end will have a “big role” in the offense starting in Week 1 after watching him take first-team reps “since Day 1.” Head coach Dan Campbell has been singing his praise since spring and beat reporter Colton Pouncy called LaPorta the “most talented TE on the roster” and reported that he’s “passing every test.”
Offseason hype pieces aside, there are plenty of reasons to believe the Lions’ No. 1 TE would equate to fantasy goodness. For a team that set a tight end touchdown record despite trading T.J. Hockenson halfway through the season, fantasy managers are expectedly excited for the rookie's fantasy prospects. The nine touchdowns Detroit tight ends scored after the Hockenson trade led the entire NFL, notably scoring above the Chiefs (seven) and 49ers (seven), two teams with superstar options at the position. LaPorta has a clear path to exceed his current ADP (131.8). — 4for4's Justin Edwards, who has more breakout TE candidates.