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Top 5 Fantasy Football breakout candidates at tight end in 2022, ranked

Fantasy Football Breakout Tight Ends

There’s Travis Kelce, George Kittle, and Mark Andrews and then there’s the rest of them. That’s how most people see the tight end position in the 2022 NFL season. If you missed out on any of those players, it could be quite an adventure out there for you on your league’s draft day. With that being said, here are five players who could end up being the top fantasy football breakout tight ends in 2022.

Fantasy Football breakout tight ends 2022

5. Logan Thomas

The Washington Commanders are not viewed as a healthy offensive environment, which is part of the reason why Logan Thomas isn’t getting much attention among fantasy football managers. At Fantasy Pros, Thomas only has an average draft position of 28.0 among tight ends. Managers are scared of Thomas not only because the Commanders’ offense isn’t ideal, but also because of his health.

Thomas played just six games in 2021, as he tore his left ACL in December 2021. He ended his 2021 NFL campaign with just 196 receiving yards and three touchdowns on 18 receptions and 25 targets, which was a big step down from the numbers he put up in 2020. In that 2020 season, Thomas was a top-10 tight end, with 97.0 points (standard scoring). That’s the form Thomas can target in 2022 to become an absolute fantasy football steal when it is all said and done. Again, it’s easy to find a reason to stay away from Thomas, but if he ultimately clicks with new Commanders quarterback Carson Wentz, who seems to be fond of looking for big targets downfield.

Via Peter Hailey of NBC Sports:

“In his rookie year with Philadelphia in 2016, Zach Ertz (at 6-foot-5) and Jordan Mathews (at 6-foot-3) caught 78 and 73 passes from Wentz to lead the way for that offense. The diminutive Darren Sproles was third on the team in receptions while the 6-foot Nelson Agholor chipped in as well, but Ertz and Mathews were undoubtedly Wentz’s go-to guys.”

4. Robert Tonyan

As long as Aaron Rodgers is the Green Bay Packers’ starting quarterback, every starter on the skill positions on the team’s roster will be fantasy football relevant. Robert Tonyan isn’t an elite option at the tight end position, but he is someone that Rodgers seemingly have trust in delivering for the team in the red zone. The issue with Tonyan in 2022 is his health. He played in only eight games in the 2021 NFL season, as he went down with a serious knee injury. He suffered an ACL tear in Week 8, but there is a big chance that he will be on the field by the time Week 1 of the 2022 season rolls around.

If that would be the case, expect Tonyan to be a producer for the Packers’ offense, especially in the red zone. The season before he tore his ACL, Tonyan had already broken out, with 586 receiving yards and 11 (!) touchdowns on 52 catches and 59 targets back in the 2020 NFL season. He was top three that year in standard fantasy scoring among tight ends with 116.0; only Darren Waller of the Las Vegas Raiders (166.0) and Travis Kelce of the Kansas City Chiefs (201.0) had more. With Davante Adams gone in Green Bay, there is a huge volume of targets and opportunities downfield for Packers receivers. Tonyan should be one of the top beneficiaries once he’s ready to play, especially when considering the team’s lack of quality options at the wide receiver position.

3. Pat Freiermuth

The case against Pat Freiermuth in the 2022 NFL season is that Ben Roethlisberger is no longer the quarterback of the Steelers. With Mitchell Trubisky currently considered the Steelers’ no. 1 quarterback, there are concerns about how Freiermuth will be able to sustain his notable performance in 2021. Freiermuth turned out to be a nice late-round draft addition/waiver-wire pickup for many fantasy football managers in his rookie season in the league.

In fact, Freiermuth nearly cracked the top 10 in tight-end fantasy scoring production with 87.0 points. He had more fantasy points overall last season than the likes of Mike Gesicki of the Miami Dolphins, Noah Fant of the Seattle Seahawks, and Tyler Higbee of the Los Angeles Rams. Overall, he finished 2021 with 497 receiving yards and seven touchdowns on 60 caches and 79 targets. He had the second-highest target share in the red zone with 18 (behind Diontae Johnson’s 27). Whether it’s Trubisky or Pickett under center, Freiermuth seems to be firmly entrenched in the Steelers’ offense that definitely considers him a top weapon in the red zone.

2. Irv Smith Jr.

The Minnesota Vikings tight end might be a forgotten man in real-life football after missing all of the action in the 2021 NFL season due to a torn meniscus injury in August of that year. But in fantasy football, Smith is carrying a salivating upside. In his first two seasons in the NFL, Smith racked up 676 receiving yards and seven touchdowns on 66 catches and 90 targets. He gradually improved his production in his rookie season in 2019 to his sophomore year in the league in 2020 and could have been on his way to his true breakout campaign in 2021 if it weren’t for that devastating injury. What makes Smith’s fantasy value enticing is the arrival of a new head coach in Minnesota in the form of Kevin O’Connell. 

The former offensive coordinator of the Rams’ Super Bowl-winning squad has already said that there is a big role waiting in 2022 for Smith.

Via Kevin Seifert of ESPN:

“Absolutely,” O’Connell said. “I’ve said this before, going back and watching some of his tape even before the injury, I know there was a lot of folks excited about him last fall before that injury happened. Some of the success he’s had — both with how we’re going to use him and ultimately where he is at in his career — he’s ready to absorb all of this and be in a position to go play fast, go play with a bunch of confidence that he’s going to be a major part of what we do. It’s just making sure we’re doing it in a really responsible way as he continues to progress back.”

1.  Cole Kmet

Lastly, we arrive at Cole Kmet territory. There isn’t a lot to look forward to for the Chicago Bears’ offense outside of Justin Fields, but Kmet should be one. First of all, Kmet has no competition at the moment in the position. He is clearly the no. 1 tight end on the Bears roster, with only guys like Ryan Griffin and James o Shaughnessy behind him.

Plus, he’s the only Chicago tight end right now with NFL experience playing alongside Fields. Kmet is actually coming off a disappointing season. The 2021 NFL campaign was supposed to be where he should’ve broken out. Instead, he only had 612 receiving yards and zero touchdowns on 60 catches and 93 targets. Jimmy Graham had more touchdowns than Kmet with three. Well, Graham is gone. And so is Allen Robinson. That leaves the Bears with a receiving corps that doesn’t really look inspiring, at least on paper. This is Kmet’s chance to be one of the fantasy football breakout tight ends. His best chance.