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2019 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight ends in Week 5

Heath ranks the safety blankets.

NFL: Washington Redskins at New York Giants Brad Penner-USA TODAY Sports

Will Dissly week was a smashing success (7-57-1) in Week 4, finishing as the No. 4 tight end overall against Arizona. Can the Bengals tight ends continue the run of success by safety blankets against Arizona? The only way to find out is to read on...

No Lions or Dolphins this week (byes) so we’ll wave goodbye to T.J. Hockenson for now.

1 Travis Kelce vs. IND - Kelce has been remarkably consistent thus far, with target counts of 8, 9, 8, and 8. Kelce trails Waller, Ertz, Kittle, Engram, and Andrews in target share, but he has a higher aDOT than any of them. Consequently, Kelce leads all tight ends in air yards with 363 (Andrews is 2nd with 318). The Colts allowed four receptions apiece to Hunter Henry and Delanie Walker in the first two weeks, but allowed nine receptions to Atlanta tight ends in Week 3 and 10 receptions to Oakland tight ends in Week 4. This spike in production to opposing tight ends coincides with the two-game absence of All-Pro linebacker Darius Leonard, who has yet to emerge from the league’s concussion protocol (but did return to a limited practice on Wednesday). But Kelce is the slam-dunk TE1 in Week 5 no matter what.

2 Evan Engram vs. MIN - Engram’s 5.4 aDOT is low, on par with guys like Jack Doyle (5.5) and Jason Witten (5.6). However, Engram’s 190 yards after the catch tops all tight ends, with only Darren Waller (183) within striking distance. Given that Engram and Waller are tied for second place among all tight ends with 37 targets, it’s tough to consider bumping Engram down any further. For what it’s worth, Darren Waller has an aDOT of 5.3 and also accumulates yards after the catch. In Week 3, Waller shredded the Vikings for 134 yards on 13 catches (14 targets). All aboard the Engram train this week.

3 George Kittle vs. CLE - Kittle’s 27.91% target share in San Francisco is huge. Higher than Davante Adams (27.66%), Adam Thielen (27.37%), and Kenny Golladay (26.67%), for reference. He’s the No. 1 receiver on his team who just happens to qualify as a tight end. Cleveland allows the 8th most points to enemy tight ends, with Mark Andrews (4-31-1) and Hayden Hurst (2-39) combining for the No. 2 tight end performance last week. There’s no reason Kittle shouldn’t be an elite consideration in Week 5.

4 Darren Waller vs. CHI - I dig Waller for all the reasons already illuminated in the Engram blurb. Lots of YAC, and the Bears haven’t been completely shutdown against tight ends—so far they give up the 12th fewest points. However, they’ve only faced the rookie Noah Fant (4-33) and past-their-prime veterans in Jimmy Graham (3-30-1) and Vernon Davis (2-30). Waller is a different beast, though, and he’s currently sporting an insane 30.58% target share.

5 Zach Ertz vs. NYJ - The Jets have only allowed FIVE receptions to enemy tight ends through four weeks...which is nuts. Yes, they had a bye week, but five catches in three weeks is pretty epic. The caveat is that they’ve played no one, as Buffalo, Cleveland (sans Njoku), and New England don’t utilize the tight end. Ertz leads all tight ends with 38 targets, so I’m giving him the benefit of the doubt on volume.

6 Mark Andrews - Andrews only played on 29 of 69 snaps in a game the Ravens lost last week and he was held out of practice on Wednesday. I think he’ll play, as this reads like the management of pain to me. Andrews (22.14%) and Marquise Brown (25.00%) gobble up nearly half of Lamar Jackson’s targets. Third-most on the team is Nick Boyle, all the way down at 9.29% (only 13 targets). Hayden Hurst and Willie Snead each have 12, and then it’s spread among Seth Roberts (8), Miles Boykin (8), etc. etc. etc. Point is, this is a very narrow passing tree when Andrews is healthy. If we get more positive reports heading through the weekend I’ll probably bump him ahead of Ertz.

7 Austin Hooper @ HOU - Hooper’s 19.10% target share trails only Julio Jones for Atlanta. He’s ahead of Mohamed Sanu (18.54%), Devonta Freeman (14.04%), and Calvin Ridley (14.04%). The Texans are a tough draw, currently allowing the 2nd fewest points to tight ends. They shut out Greg Olsen (2-5) last week, but aside from that they’ve not been tested. Hooper is off to a blazing start, as his 28 receptions trails only Waller (33) among tight ends. He’s also fourth in receiving yards (307) and tied for third with a pair of scores. And he’s low-key THIRD among all tight ends with 138 YAC, behind only Engram and Waller. This is a tough matchup for the Texans, too. I like Hooper this week, and I love him for the rest of the season.

8 Greg Olsen vs. JAC - Olsen (20.41% target share) is a part of what I’m now calling the Four Horsemen. The Panthers passing attack runs through exactly four players, in Olsen, Christian McCaffrey (21.77%), Curtis Samuel (21.77%), and D.J. Moore (21.09%). Here are their target counts for the season: McCaffrey 32, Samuel 32, Moore 31, and Olsen 30. Then it plummets way down to slot man Jarius Wright at 15. Again, a really defined passing tree. I love it. The Jaguars let Jordan Akins (2-25) get on the board, got roasted by Kelce (3-88), allowed 9-84 to Titans tight ends, and let rookie Noah Fant find the end zone (2-31-1). This is a decent spot for Olsen to return some mid-range TE1 value.

9 Will Dissly vs. LAR - Dissly’s target count keeps trending the right direction: 2, 5, 7, 8. He’s up to an 18.18% target share despite barely playing in Week 1. Only Tyler Lockett (27.27%) and D.K. Metcalf (18.94%) outpace him for Seattle. However, Dissly has more targets than Metcalf in each of the last two weeks. The Rams have allowed scores to Demetrius Harris and Cameron Brate, and allowed a combined 6-66-1 line to Brate/Howard a week ago when they were smoked by Tampa Bay.

10 Jimmy Graham @ DAL - Graham’s 14.18% should spike this week with Davante Adams (27.66%) unlikely to play with a toe injury. Graham saw 11 targets in Week 4, second only to Adams’ 16. Graham is also tied for the team lead with four red zone looks, along with Adams. If Adams is shelved, you’ve got to try to find a way to play Graham this week. And if he gives you a big game, SELL HIGH.

11 Delanie Walker vs. BUF - The Bills have allowed 11 receptions to tight ends so far, only New England (9) and the Jets (5) have allowed fewer. While the Pats have allowed 9-144 in total, the Bills have only allowed a 9-84 line receiving in total. And no touchdowns allowed by the Bills defense to enemy tight ends, either. What keeps Walker relevant is his 19.49% target share, tops on the team for the Titans. He also leads Tennessee with four red zone looks.

12 Tyler Eifert vs. ARI - Tyler Eifert reads like a cut candidate to me. Not only is he behind Tyler Boyd and John Ross in target share, he’s also behind Auden Tate and Joe Mixon. And some guy named A.J. Green hasn’t even entered back into the conversation yet. Eifert does lead the Bengals with four red zone looks, but that’s not enough to put him into the TE1 conversation most weeks. This week isn’t most weeks, though. Arizona is the preeminent matchup for tight ends so far, as the Cardinals have allowed a whopping six scores to the position and have allowed the most receptions (32) AND the most yardage (431). Eifert sneaks in as a TE1 given the matchup and the loss of John Ross to IR (shoulder). It helps that C.J. Uzomah has done nothing of relevance since Week 1, too. Last week, Eifert had a modest five targets while Uzomah had none, for example.

13 Eric Ebron @ KC - The Colts have some uncertainty in the wide receiver corps, with injuries to T.Y. Hilton and Parris Campbell. This is a situation to monitor and Ebron is a candidate to move up the list by Sunday if we can safely expect more volume to go his way. Last week he had some ugly drops prior to catching a 48-yard touchdown that saved his day. That’s what volume does for you—it covers all manner of sins. For what it is worth, this is a good week for the Colts to utilize their tight ends and rest Hilton for one more week. The Chiefs are tied for the worst in the league (Cardinals) when it comes to tight end receptions, as they’ve allowed 32 catches so far. They’ve also allowed the 4th most yards, at 284. Even Jack Doyle would be a viable TE2 candidate if Hilton misses again, especially in PPR formats.

14 O.J. Howard @ NO - I waited long enough for him, right? The Saints are middling against tight ends, allowing the 12th most yards (229) and 13th most receptions (20) through four games. Unfortunately, Howard only has 13 targets so far, tied for third on Tampa’s team with a 9.63% target share. This is the Mike Evans (25.93%) and Chris Godwin (24.44%) show. Furthermore, Cameron Brate (3) has more red zone looks than Howard (2), and both are well behind Evans (6) and Godwin (5). That’s a disturbing trend that has continued. I think you sell Howard the next time he has a solid game.

15 Jack Doyle @ KC - I’m projecting a bit, but there’s not a lot of upside left and I’m again thinking the Colts will attack KC through the air with their big tight ends. Doyle’s 13.04% target share is tied for second on the team, behind only Hilton (30.43%) and tied with Parris Campbell. If either of those guys are out, Doyle could stand to move up this list—definitely ahead of Howard, in my book. I’d still roll with Ebron in standard leagues, but Doyle could be a sneaky play in your PPR formats this week.

16 Jason Witten vs. GB - Witten is the third or fourth option at best right now, and that’s without Michael Gallup in the lineup. In Week 3 (first game without Gallup) Witten was fourth in targets (4) after Amari Cooper (7), Randall Cobb (5), and Devin Smith (5). In Week 4 he was bested by Cooper (10), Ezekiel Elliott (7), and Randall Cobb (6) in targets. Witten again had only four looks. Witten does lead Dallas with six red zone targets (2 scores), but that’s not enough to get excited about. He’s a low floor, low ceiling option against a stout Green Bay pass defense this week.

17 Noah Fant @ LAC - The Chargers haven’t allowed a ton of receptions (17) or yardage (194) to tight ends, but they have allowed three scores so far. Only the Cardinals (6) have allowed more. The Broncos mostly throw to Emmanuel Sanders (22.60%) and Courtland Sutton (21.92%). If they don’t, they throw to both running backs in Royce Freeman (15.07%) and Phillip Lindsay (13.01%). Fant is not a 2019 difference-maker if everyone ahead of him stays healthy, but you could play for a touchdown this week if you had to do so.

18 Dawson Knox @ TEN - Knox has a measly 10.07% target share, with only has 14 targets so far. However, he does have eight looks in the last two weeks, compared to six in the first two weeks. I know, go crazy! Still, Knox has definitely popped off the screen at times, and is a sneaky stash for when Josh Allen returns and Knox becomes a bit more involved in the offense. I can definitely see a scenario where Knox can vie for No. 2 receiver duties in this offense behind John Brown—surpassing Cole Beasley and Zay Jones. For now, he’s a mid-range or low-end TE2 option.

19 Jared Cook vs. TB - Yep, it’s disgusting. But Cook is still third on this team in target share, at 14.18%. The Bucs have allowed 30 receptions (3rd worst) and 365 yards (second worst) to enemy tight ends so far. I know it’s Teddy Bridgewater at the helm, but if we are digging this deep you’ve got to consider Cook.

20 Trey Burton @ OAK - Burton only has 11 targets on the season. Sure, he missed Week 1. But since then he’s seen target counts of 4, 4, and 3. Overall he’s sitting on a 7.59% target share. Let’s all stop waiting on this to manifest, okay? He’s behind Allen Robinson, Tarik Cohen, Taylor Gabriel, and David Montgomery in target share. Being the No. 5 option isn’t exactly inspiring.

If you’re going past Burton, you’re considering guys like Dallas Goedert, Vance McDonald (if he plays), Cameron Brate (if you’re chasing a TD), and maybe Ricky Seals-Jones to see if he can make a splash play again for Cleveland. For my part, I really don’t like considering anyone past Ebron on the above list.

Who did I miss? Is anyone desperate enough to add Benjamin Watson this week? I hope not!