Chicago Bears tight end Cole Kmet was a pleasant fantasy football surprise in 2022 for those willing to stick with him throughout the season. After not earning a single point through the first two weeks, Kmet caught seven touchdowns, helping him finish eighth in fantasy points among tight ends in PPR leagues.

With quarterback Justin Fields possibly poised for a breakout season in the end, plus a plethora of new pass-catching options for the Bears, what can we expect from Kmet in 2023? Fresh off a four-year, $50 million contract extension, here is Cole Kmet's fantasy football outlook.

Cole Kmet's Fantasy Football Outlook for the 2023 Season

More Air Time?

In his first full year as the Bears' starter, Justin Fields was a revelation on the ground, rushing for 1,143 yards and eight touchdowns while leading the NFL with 7.1 yards/carry. In the air, he was not quite as effective. Fields' 149.5 passing yards/game were the worst among quarterbacks with 10+ starts in 2022 while his interception rate of 3.5% was second worst.

No Bears pass-catcher exceeded 500 yards receiving in 2022, yet Cole Kmet managed 543 yards on 69 targets while catching seven touchdowns — all team highs. It is hard to see Kmet exceeding those numbers in 2023 given the number of pass-catchers the Bears will have.

Chicago acquired wideout D.J. Moore in the off-season, who surpassed 1,100 receiving yards in three straight years before 2022. The Bears will also have a full year of Chase Claypool — who averaged more than 850 yards in two full seasons with the Steelers, plus Darnell Mooney, who struggled with injuries last year but had 1,000 yards in 2021. Chicago also brought in Green Bay Packers tight end Robert Tonyan, coming off a 53-catch performance a year ago.

With these options finally all together, Kmet could easily be the third or even fourth target in this Chicago offense. But if Fields can increase his passing production from a miserable 2,242 yards last year, that might not be an issue. Fields will be a more efficient passer in 2023, paving the way for similar numbers for Cole Kmet despite the increased competition for targets.

Season-Long Improvement

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Through the first two games of the season, Kmet had just two targets and no catches. In weeks three through eight, he posted a modest 6.0 fantasy points in PPR leagues, averaging 2.3 catches/game, and — most notably — just one touchdown. In the final nine weeks of the campaign, the Chicago tight end averaged 12.4 points/game, hauling in six touchdowns and gathering nearly twice as many catches per game. Extrapolate that rate to an entire season, and Kmet is the fifth-highest-scoring tight end in fantasy football.

End Zone Dependency

Even with his strong second-half showing, Kmet still finished tied for 15th among tight ends with 50 catches on the season. Only his seven-touchdown output (tied for third among TEs) made him relevant in fantasy. This touchdown total far exceeded the two scores he managed across his first two NFL seasons. Plus, outside the five games in which Kmet found the end zone, he only reached double-digit fantasy points in PPR leagues once.

Overall Outlook

Kmet's durability in playing all 17 games might have hurt him last year, as he finished eighth in total points among tight ends in PPR leagues last year yet was tied for 15th in points per game at 8.7. Given his inconsistency, dependency on touchdowns for fantasy relevance, and the influx of new targets at Soldier Field, the staff at ESPN ranks him anywhere from 11th to 19th, with an average ranking of 13.8.

With so few dependable tight ends and a noticeable drop-off outside of this top group, Cole Kmet is a risky play from this “best of the rest” group, at TE 14 in ESPN's rankings, don't plan on making this Bears pass-catcher your primary tight end in 2023.