Entering the 2022 fantasy football season, two tight ends stand out above the rest: Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews. These elite pass-catchers are Nos. 1 and 2 in our TE rankings and will likely go first and second in your fantasy draft. Andrews stood out as the best last season, scoring a total of 301.1 PPR points in 17 games, but it’s fair to wonder if he can continue his elite performance and be the No. 1 tight end again.
Kelce wasn’t too far behind Andrews, amassing 262.8 PPR points in 16 total games. These players are their teams’ top receiving threats and will compete for the overall TE1 in fantasy football throughout the season.
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Below, we’ll dive into the cases for each to be the first tight end selected before ultimately coming to a verdict on who should be No. 1 and where you should draft them. If you’re interested in more help while drafting, check out RotoBaller‘s premium “Who To Draft?” tool, which they’ve made available to SN Fantasy readers for free. Use discount code “SPORTING” to become a RotoBaller subscriber and get access to all their award-winning, game-changing tools, stats, and analysis.
Travis Kelce vs. Mark Andrews: Who’s the best fantasy TE?
Kelce could be in line for his first 1,500-plus yard receiving season given he’s Patrick Mahomes’ undisputed No. 1 option in the passing game this year. Tyreek Hill, Demarcus Robinson, and Bryon Pringle are gone and Mecole Hardman is the only other pass catcher who has a multi-year rapport with Mahomes. Kelce has a realistic chance to see career-high 150-plus targets along with a target share north of 27 percent. Kelce ran the most routes from the TE position a year ago (543) while producing the second most fantasy points per game (16.4) in PPR leagues.
Despite posting just the 15th-highest aDOT, he led all TEs in yards after catch (606), as Kelce continues to be one of the toughest players to bring down in the open field. It’s fair to expect another 10-plus receiving TDs from the nine-year vet, but it’s unlikely he maintains his elite red-zone efficiency from 2021. Kelce scored 10 TDs (first among TEs) on just 16 red-zone targets (eighth among TEs), and despite Kelce’s elite pass-catching abilities, replicating this type of efficiency is a tough ask.
Kelce’s ADP of 13 pits him as a borderline first-round pick. He’s a worthwhile selection in snake drafts since he can put up WR1 numbers and is more of a differentiator at his position. Pairing Kelce up with an elite RB sets you up for an effective fantasy season. Kelce’s worthy of sitting in the top tier amongst TEs, but he might not be as valuable in drafts as this next TE.
Andrews finished 2021 as the TE1 in both standard and PPR formats, scoring an average of 17.7 PPR points per game. Andrews did log one more game than Kelce did, but even if Kelce surpassed his 16.4-point-per-game average by, let’s say, 50 percent in that 17th game, he still would have ended the season as the overall TE2.
It didn’t matter if it was Lamar Jackson, Tyler Huntley, or Josh Johnson taking snaps for Baltimore, Andrews was far and away the top receiving threat in Baltimore’s offense and a consistent week-to-week producer. Now that Marquise Brown and his 91 receptions are vacated from the offense, it’s possible Andrews draws an even higher target share. Andrews led all TEs in target share last season (26.6 percent), and it’s’ not unfathomable to imagine a 30-plus percent target share this season.
What makes Andrews so appealing in both formats was his league-leading 1,440 air yards, as he’s a big-play threat waiting to happen. Even with defenses keying on him in the red zone, Andrews led all TEs in red-zone targets (20), hauling in nine TDs (second among TEs).
Additionally, he led the league in EPA added (+80.5) while amassing 0.59 fantasy points per route run. He’s proven to be durable throughout his first four seasons (knock on wood) missing a total of just three games, and his ability to stay healthy gives him another boost to his fantasy upside. Bank on another dominant season from the Ravens’ elite TE.
It’s hard to go wrong on selecting either Kelce or Andrews as the overall TE1. Given each player’s ADP, Andrews presents a bit more value given he’s being taken eight spots below Kelce. It’s entirely possible someone in your league selects Andrews earlier than his No. 21 ADP, and with both TEs producing like WR1s, it’s tough to fault anyone for selecting either player earlier than their current ADP.
With both TEs being the go-to receiving threats in their offenses, you could boil your selection toward whether you prefer having Patrick Mahomes or Lamar Jackson throw passes to your TE. In that case, Mahomes should have the upper hand, leading you toward selecting Kelce as the TE1.
The other No. 1 TE contender
Pitts is right behind Kelce and Andrews in the TE tiers, coming in as the consensus No. 3 overall TE entering 2022. Pitts put forth an effective rookie season and has the chance to amass 1,250-plus receiving yards in year two. In his rookie season, he saw the second-most air yards (1,110) and aDOT (10.1) with the third-most deep targets (12), adding to his appeal in both standard and PPR formats.
While it’s tough to rely on Marcus Mariota for Pitts to put up consistent fantasy production, similar to Kelce and Andrews, Pitts is the undisputed No. 1 receiving threat in Atlanta. He’s going to command a high target share. You can assuredly bank on a much higher TD output ,as well, as there’s little to no chance he produces a 15:1 target-to-TD ratio in the red zone.
Two other tier-two TEs, George Kittle and Darren Waller, aren’t among the No. 1 contenders due to their injury histories and somewhat uncertain situations entering ‘22. For Kittle, the emergence of WRs Deebo Samuel and Brandon Aiyuk have cut into his workload, as the past two seasons have resulted in a lower target share. Additionally, there is some uncertainty about how he’ll perform now that he won’t be catching passes from Jimmy Garoppolo. In the five games (two starts) Trey Lance logged in ‘21, Kittle hauled in just one TD on 20 receptions.
Waller’s target share will likely also be on the decline with the insertion of Davante Adams into Las Vegas’ offense. Hunter Renfrow’s ability to consistently create separation warrants another pass catcher worthy of a high target share, limiting Waller’s ability to finish the season as the TE1. He’ll still get his red-zone looks, but with a new offense and new competition for targets, it’s tough to imagine Waller finishing in the top three.