What a lot of people forget is that the fed frigs actually have a much deeper specialisation than what it says, and you can really work with that. The way is see it, you have 2 main groups - either a defender, with missile-destroying drones, or a pusher/tanker, with the healing drones. The first one lets you hold a position longer, the second lets you hit the target before you hop back and heal.
Then, you can go deeper. Do you become a mobile rally point, holding positions and buffing those who come help you, while repairing them to get them back in the fight? Or do you really focus on missile defense and keep those beacons safe, increasing your damage, range and anti-missile defenses. With the tanker, you, imo, can become some kind of steel-clad demon, with massive hull and shield points, and packing serious shield damage with both drone and laser weapons, or you can be a really good support ship, using your drones to keep dot alive longer to buff the front line as much as possible.
Currently, i play in tier 1 to earn money, but i still fit the defender classification, and i have my tier 2 ship planned - mobile rally point/defender. Should work well.
Just remember to pick your role and stick to it! Im a rookie, but i hate seeing frigate players on the frontlines, the very front, getting pounded, or trying to capture bombs or kill captains. Frigates aren’t glamourous, you really don’t get kills, but holding a beacon against 7 fighters, or keeping your captain just long enough to kill theirs? Awesome xD
If anyone disagrees with this, please, let me know why
(Wow, my two cents are pretty big /rantover)