So you drafted Travis Kelce, and heading into Week 1 you now need a streaming or waiver wire pickup for your TE position. Well we have you covered with some options that should be available for Week 1. These have been put in order of preference, with ownership % added.
Juwan Johnson (NO)
(34% Owned on Sleeper)
Johnson, a former wide receiver at Oregon, took a massive leap forward in his development during his third NFL season in 2022. He caught 42 passes for over 500 yards and 7 touchdowns while averaging 65% of the snaps for New Orleans in 2022. Each of those numbers were career-bests for the former undrafted free agent. And it’s no surprise that Johnson took time to develop as a tight end after converting from a different position in college.
New Orleans retained Johnson this Summer when he became a restricted free agent. And the reports for Johnson out of Saints training camp have been glowing. There have been reports of him improving as a blocker, which should help the 65% snap number rise in 2023. Most importantly, he seems to have taken another step as a receiver and built a solid connection with Derek Carr. The former-WR-turned-TE having success with Derek Carr thing should be familiar to everyone, as we saw Carr and Darren Waller have massive success together in Vegas.
Johnson is a great athlete at the position who’s role should expand after a stellar 2022 season. If all training camp reports hold true then Johnson could take another major leap from 2022. That would provide some serious fantasy value. He’s on the waiver wire in over 60% of leagues on Sleeper and has a relatively high upside for someone who went largely undrafted in fantasy this season. The Titans bled fantasy points through the air last season, so I suggest Johnson to be your #1 target on waivers if you need a tight end to play for Week 1.
One last thing for what it’s worth: Derek Carr reportedly told his brother David to draft Juwan in fantasy this season. We’ll find out soon whether that was a teammate simply hyping up a fellow teammate, or if it’s Carr truly forecasting a massive breakout from the 4th-year tight end.
Jake Ferguson (DAL)
(20% owned on Sleeper)
Heading into his second season as a 4th round pick out of Wisconsin, Jake Ferguson has seemingly earned the trust of the coaching staff in Dallas. Ferguson reportedly had a strong training camp. Which should see his snap rate rise dramatically following Dalton Schultz departing from Dallas in free agency. He looked solid in limited action a year ago, and this year he’s listed as the #1 tight end on the Cowboys roster. Ferguson hasn’t played nearly as much as a starter coming into 2023 compared to Juwan Johnson, so his outlook takes a bit more projection.
As the starter for 2 years in Dallas, Schultz averaged 5.9 and 6.1 targets per game, and was a top-10 TE in PPG each of those seasons. With few options at the TE position to get excited about, Ferguson is worth a dart throw. Just to see if he can be a featured part of the offense like Schultz was. I don’t think it’s outlandish to think Ferguson could end up being the better player of the two. Especially considering that Schultz was never known for being a special athlete.
Gerald Everett (LAC)
(40% owned on Sleeper)
You know how I mentioned Dalton Schultz’s target share in Dallas? Well Kellen Moore was his offensive coordinator, and now Moore is running the offense in LA. Everett already had 9 games with 6+ targets in 2022 with the Chargers. I expect this offense for LA to move the ball better in 2023. Mike Williams and Keenan Allen are healthy, which won’t be to Everett’s advantage from a target share perspective. Their health, however, could lead to everyone in this offense having more opportunities to score touchdowns in a more efficient offense.
Tyler Conklin (NYJ)
(11% owned on Sleeper)
The least-owned player out of this group should have a large opportunity for targets. Especially after Corey Davis retired with just a few weeks until the regular season began. Conklin averaged 5.1 targets per game in 2022 and is getting a major upgrade at QB in Aaron Rodgers. Similarly to just about every tight end on waivers, you’ll be hoping that Conklin can end up catching a touchdown on Monday night against the Bills.
Image Credit: Mark J. Rebilas – USA TODAY Sports