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Crazy Enough to Work: Taking Travis Kelce No. 1 in Your Fantasy Football Draft

This article originally appeared at FanDuel Research.

One game-breaking TE stands above all the rest. Check out the full Travis Kelce fantasy football outlook for 2023 from the experts at FanDuel Research.

Fantasy football — and the strategy that it takes to win — is changing all the time.

However, there are unique advantages that you can’t overlook, and one of them is Travis Kelce.

The Kansas City Chiefs’ star has established himself as one of the all-time greats at the position and one of the best players to roster in fantasy — so much so that it may be time to consider taking him with the first overall pick because of the positional advantage he offers.

Let’s dive into a full Travis Kelce fantasy football outlook for the 2023 NFL season.

Travis Kelce Fantasy Football Projections 2023

2023 fantasy football projections via numberFire.

  • 2023 Projected Stats: 110 receptions, 161 targets, 1,2734 receiving yards, 12.2 receiving TDs
  • 2023 Projected Points: 254.9 half-PPR points
  • numberFire Positional Projection: TE1

2023 Travis Kelce Fantasy Outlook

Consistent Dominance

There’s no one better at the TE position than Travis Kelce. And there’s no tight end that has a better QB than Travis Kelce does.

It not only makes a world of difference, but it makes Kelce one of the best fantasy options in the NFL — regardless of position.

In the 2022 season, Kelce scored 261.3 half-PPR fantasy points, putting up 110 receptions, 1,338 receiving yards, and 12 TDs. He’s essentially a WR1 playing tight end, which makes him a cheat code in many ways.

Entering last season, Kelce was already Patrick Mahomes’ favorite option, but it was all the more undeniable in 2022. To go along with those 110 receptions were 152 targets, the sixth-most in football (among all players). Playing with a great quarterback and with one of the game’s best offensive minds at head coach, Kelce is in a dream spot, and KC’s aerial attack revolves around him.

Need more to understand why Kelce is an absolute machine? He had a 25.7% target share and 30.4% red-zone target share in 2022 — numbers that could actually go up with JuJu Smith-Schuster and Mecole Hardman moving on from the Chiefs and Kadarius Toney suffering an injury early in camp.

Kelce finished with those 261.3 half-PPR points in 2022 — the highest amount for a tight end since the 2011 season. Asking him — or expecting him — to do it again at the age of 33 might be a big ask, but as we’ve seen with Kelce thus far, he’s only improved with age.

All the pieces are in place for another consistently dominant season for the future Hall of Famer.

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Far and Above the Rest

In terms of positional value, there’s no one who stands out at their position more than Kelce does at tight end.

The difference in points from the top scorer in each position to the second-best scorer isn’t always a notable factoid to look at. For example, the point differential between the QB1 and QB2 a season ago was 21.4 points — a big gap but not that big of a gap. The same goes for RB as the difference between Austin Ekeler and Christian McCaffrey was only 5.4 points. At receiver, Justin Jefferson held a 16.9-point edge on the WR2.

All of those point gaps are pretty reasonable, but when you get to tight end, it’s not even close.

As we noted earlier, Kelce finished with a staggering 261.3 half-PPR points. Those 261.3 points were 88.9 more than the TE2 (TJ Hockenson) scored. Yes, 88.9 points.

That’s massive.

To go one step further — Kelce had nine games with 15 or more half-PPR points. The next highest was Mark Andrews at four. Kelce averaged 15.4 points per game.

Kelce is in a league of his own at tight end, and rostering him is the biggest positional advantage in fantasy. And if your league has TE-premium scoring, Kelce is even more valuable.

Final Verdict: League-winning Difference Maker

There’s no bigger advantage in fantasy right now than Travis Kelce.

Yes, the likes of Mark Andrews can get back to elite TE numbers. Yes, there are breakout candidates who could surprise. And, yes, you have to use a very early pick to get Kelce. But Kelce is that guy.

How early of a pick?

Kelce currently has a half-PPR average draft position (ADP) of 5.3 on FantasyPros — leaving him behind Jefferson, McCaffrey, Ekeler, and Ja’Marr Chase. And in FanDuel best-ball drafts, he goes even earlier as the second player off the board (after Jefferson) with an ADP of 2.5.

It sounds a little crazy to say it, but taking a tight end at 1.01 is in play — as long as that TE is Kelce, of course.

numberFire has Kelce projected as the unquestioned TE1 heading into the season with a forecast of 254.9 points — just shy of his total last year.

In the year of the wideouts going in the first round — five WRs have a first-round ADP — set yourself apart with the tight end who puts up WR1 numbers. Kelce’s 261.3 points from a year ago were enough for him to be the WR5 if his position was receiver — instead, he put up that output at a position where it’s extremely hard to find steady production.

Select the fantasy cheat code, and thank yourself later for doing so. And if you do it at the 1.01 spot, so be it.

— Scott Edwards Jr.

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