It feels good to finally get by the two six team bye weeks. Now the tight end pool has a lot more depth heading into playoff season. After a couple of busy weeks and publishing this column during the weekend, I’m back to getting this in before the Thursday night matchup. So let’s get to the rankings
BYE WEEK: Buffalo, Detroit, Indianapolis, Oakland
Zach Ertz - I've had Ertz's value dropping all season, even in the big week byes there were times when Ertz found himself in the bottom-five players on my roster. But this week he shoots up to No. 13 on my list. Last week he was caught all eight of his targets for 97 yards, both are season highs. In the last two weeks he has had 12 receptions which is more than he has had in the past four games combined. The Giants are generally extremely good against tight ends, they haven't let any eclipse 70 yards until Ertz. Hopefully Wentz keeps looking his way as he faces one of the worst pass defenses in the league in the Falcons.
Coby Fleener - Drew Brees and the Saints offense are usually great when they are at home. Both big games for Fleener this season have come in the Superdome (Week 3 - ATL, Week 6 - CAR). But this week I wouldn't start Fleener. He's averaged three catches in the past three weeks and only makes his money when he scores a touchdown. Bad news for him, the Denver Broncos have only allowed two touchdowns to their opponents, and they both came from the Chargers. I don't see Fleener getting in the endzone. I think he will become more of a blocker to handle the intense Denver rush while Cooks, Thomas, and Snead make up the passing game. Find someone else.
Gary Barnidge - Here's another guy I'm just not excited about. He ranks 14th in scoring among PPR tight ends this season, yet he's one of only two tight ends in the top-20 to have played 9 games (Jack Doyle is the other who ranks 6th). It's not the quarterback situation with the Browns because he's actually had an almost 30% increase in catch rate with Cody Kessler under center as opposed to Josh McCown. The Browns haven't won a game yet and you'd think since they are behind that they would be flinging the ball left and right. But offense just doesn't have many schemes that feature the tight end. The Browns are facing a Baltimore defense that has shut down tight ends. you can roll with Barnidge if you have no better options, but consider him a TE2 who best case scenario gets 11 points.