Hello everyone and welcome to the last installment of this fantasy football free agency series presented by TWSN. We’ve covered the quarterbacks, running backs, and wide receivers already in the last couple of weeks. Now with free agency just about to start, we are going to dive into the tight ends that could be changing teams in 2023.
The tight end position is the most scarce and frustrating position in fantasy football. Free agency is great because it gives a lot of these disappointing players a chance to reset with a new team. Here are my favorite four free agent tight ends with the highest potential in fantasy football leagues in 2023.
Mike Gesicki is coming off a disastrous season with the Miami Dolphins under new head coach Mike McDaniel. After finishing as a top 12 fantasy tight end for three straight seasons, Gesicki was just the TE23 in PPR leagues. Furthermore, he had a 50% snap share in only five games, as he also saw his playing time diminish.
One of the clear problems was how his usage changed under a new offensive scheme. After ranking top three in slot snaps from 2019-2021, Gesicki was just 16th last season. Offseason reports suggested the Dolphins wanted a more traditional tight end in the offense, leaving him as the odd man out.
Gesicki shouldn’t be on any fantasy radars this offseason and he will actually be one of my favorite sleeper candidates. He is still one of the most athletic tight ends in the NFL and has two 700-yard receiving seasons under his belt. With the tight end position being as bare as it is, fantasy managers could do a lot worse with their last pick in a draft.
The Los Angeles Chargers, Cincinnati Bengals, and Green Bay Packers would all be very exciting options that would push him into top 15 TE territory in fantasy leagues. Like almost anyone at the position, though, his fantasy value will be entirely dependent on his landing spot. If you miss out on Travis Kelce, forgo taking a tight end early and scoop up Gesicki at a great value.
After spending his first five seasons playing for the Dallas Cowboys, Dalton Schultz appears poised to be on a new team in 2023. With Ezekiel Elliott still under contract and their desire to re-sign Tony Pollard, there simply won’t be enough money for a player who should have a strong market. After minimal playing time in his first two seasons, Schultz has been a top 12 fantasy tight end for three years straight.
Nonetheless, a move out of Dallas has me very concerned about his fantasy value going forward. He’s not a great athlete, and we’ve seen with possession tight ends like Austin Hooper, their production can fail to translate on a new team. Schultz is a very smart player though, however, he has only finished as a top 10 tight end in fantasy points per game once.
He will have to command a significant number of targets to be a productive fantasy tight end, which makes his value entirety dependent on his landing spot too. The Chargers, Carolina Panthers, and Bengals have emerged as possible destinations for his services. None of these options would make me feel great about his fantasy value in 2023 either. Nonetheless, due to the scarcity at the position, it will be impossible to rank him outside the top 12 fantasy tight ends.
After being drafted in the first round of the 2018 NFL Draft by the Baltimore Ravens, it’s safe to say Hayden Hurst hasn’t lived up to expectations. Regardless, he has been a solid contributor, and he is one of the best free agent tight ends available. For fantasy purposes, Hurst has been a streaming quality tight end when given an opportunity. It will likely remain that way, no matter where he lands in 2023.
A return to the Bengals is certainly a possibility for Hurst, as the coaches recently expressed interest in bringing him back. If that doesn’t happen though, the Cleveland Browns, Chargers, and Dolphins are potential destinations. In fantasy football leagues, Hurst will remain outside my top 12 tight ends regardless of the landing spot. He will just be someone fantasy managers look to off waivers in a pinch or in a good matchup.
Despite not finishing better than the TE23 in fantasy leagues in four years in Minnesota, Irv Smith still has one of the highest fantasy ceilings of anyone on the market. He has a lot of traits that managers look for in an elite fantasy tight end. Smith recorded a 4.63 40-yard dash and 70th percentile speed score at the NFL Combine, and has flashed that potential in the past.
His breakout appeared on the horizon after a productive sophomore season where he caught 30 receptions for 365 yards and five touchdowns. However, that didn’t come to fruition as Smith has been marred by injury the last two years, only playing in eight games. Now that T.J. Hockenson is on the team, there doesn’t appear room on the roster for Smith going forward.
There haven’t been a lot of destinations discussed, but the Dolphins, Bengals, and Packers all could be possibilities for the young tight end. Fantasy managers shouldn’t get too excited about any landing spot, though, as he is still likely just a streaming option at best in 2023. Nonetheless, he is still an intriguing option in dynasty leagues as someone who could be a throw-in as part of any trade.