Last week yours truly ranked 40th of 135 in tight end accuracy per FantasyPros. I’m now sitting on 35th place in tight end accuracy through 10 weeks, and 48th in overall accuracy (again, of 135 degenerates). Let’s see if we can push both rankings up a bit these last few weeks, eh? Being upper third is nice, but it would be nice to sneak farther into the expert elite. We shall see.
On bye this week are the Packers (Jimmy Graham), Giants (Evan Engram/Rhett Ellison), Seahawks (Jacob Hollister), and Titans (Jonnu Smith/Delanie Walker). We are also missing George Kittle (already ruled out for Week 11) and Austin Hooper (out for about a month). To summarize...we are missing a pair of solid TE1 options and a pair of solid low-end TE1 options. It may be a bit of a sparse week at tight end again. But let’s dig in and check it out.
1 Travis Kelce @ LAC - Patrick Mahomes returned last week and Kelce scored an elusive touchdown, while also snagging all seven of his targets for 75 yards. Kelce leads all tight ends in red zone targets with 16, but a whopping 15 tight ends have scored more touchdowns than he has. Sounds like we may see a bit more positive regression moving forward, especially with Mahomes back at the helm.
2 Hunter Henry vs. KC - Henry ranked second among tight ends in air yards last week with 92, but only snagged four balls for 30 yards. Still, you like that the opportunity was there (7 targets) and that the aDOT was still massive at 13.1. For reference, Eric Ebron topped all tight ends with 134 air yards in Week 10, but did so with an 11.2 aDOT (12 targets). Point is, Henry gets high quality looks down the field, and the Chiefs have allowed 65 receptions to enemy tight ends this year—or only one fewer than the Cardinals (the most allowed). Since he returned from injury in Week 6, Henry leads all tight ends with 443 air yards, and ranks 14th in the entire NFL. Zach Ertz ranks second behind Henry over this stretch, and he is all the way down at 310 air yards. That’s a walloping. Henry’s 11.1 aDOT over that stretch bests every other tight end you’ve heard of (i.e. that actually receives volume). Ertz (10.3), Andrews (10.7), and Gesicki (10.3) are the only other guys in double digits.
3 Mark Andrews vs. HOU - Last week’s top tight end now gets the Texans, who have been generous to quality big guys. Andrews is quality, as he has amassed at least 70 air yards in six of 10 matchups so far (most among all tight ends). That’s a lot of opportunity, which slides him inside the top three...especially given the recent downturn in volume for the next guy...
4 Darren Waller vs. CIN - Good tight ends show up against the Bengals, with the exception of Gerald Everett’s pitiful 2-15 line (but he only had 3 targets that week). Waller is reduced to this rank due to the emergence of Hunter Renfrow and the health of Tyrell Williams. Renfrow topped Oakland in targets two weeks ago and tied Waller for the 2nd most looks among Raiders last week. It’s a concerning trend (for Waller’s sake) since his team wants to run the ball whenever possible. The lower volume caps Waller’s upside, but the floor is still legitimate. This floor comes from Waller’s ability to rack up yards after the catch, as his 295 such yards leads all tight ends in 2019.
5 Jared Cook @ TB - Last week—in only his second game played with Drew Brees—Jared Cook had a whopping 10 targets despite the return of wideout Tre’Quan Smith. Cook managed a 6-74 line and gets elite treatment inside the top five this week. The Buccaneers are a dream matchup, giving up the 4th most receptions (58), 2nd most yardage (695), and 3rd most scores (6) to opposing tight ends. I dare you to do better, as the next matchup isn’t what I would call favorable...
6 Zach Ertz vs. NE - In the end, the talent won out as I was deciding how low to go with Ertz. This ranking is a respect thing. He’s too good to drop below this point, but this is a BRUTAL matchup. It is made more brutal by the absence of DeSean Jackson, who would have at least been a threat as a field-stretching complement. Without Jackson to fret over, Wild Bill gets to narrow his focus even more on Ertz. I am afraid, very afraid. Just not as afraid as I am over the ensuing options. For instance, the next guy has a disturbingly low floor...
7 Greg Olsen vs. ATL - I pushed him up to the No. 9 spot a week ago, as I liked his matchup against Green Bay. That was a tentative ranking, based on Olsen’s relative absence from the stat sheet in recent weeks. Given his strong effort (8-98) against the Packers, though, I think Olsen deserves another week’s worth of trust. The Falcons are in shambles, and Olsen quietly ranks fourth in air yards (506) among tight ends on the season. Only Kelce (733), Ertz (677), and Andrews (652) have had more opportunity through the air.
8 Gerald Everett vs. CHI - The Bears are officially a decent matchup for tight ends. This is how to attack Chicago when passing (at least compared to wideouts). The Bears have suffered 75 targets towards enemy tight ends this year, the 8th most in the league. Against receivers, that ranking plummets to the 13th lowest (i.e. 19 teams have allowed more targets to WRs so far). Sure, the Bears have also allowed the most targets in the NFL to enemy running backs, at 83...but I don’t see Goff all of a sudden peppering any of the Rams backs with tons of looks in this one. All of the Rams running backs combined total about 11% of the market share, which is hardly noteworthy—especially if you think the Rams can run the ball against the Bears (I do). So when Goff does throw, I think Everett will be a one of the top targets—and at least one of those Rams wideouts is going to suffer in this matchup.
9 Vance McDonald @ CLE - Do the Vance Dance this week! Cleveland has been a sieve lately, allowing a 3-115-1 line to Noah Fant and 4-55 to Dawson Knox in the last two weeks. McDonald has seen 7 targets in each of the last two weeks, which is ELITE level volume at this position. Don’t believe me? Only two other tight ends in the NFL can make the same claim (7+ targets in each of the last two weeks). Those guys are Travis Kelce and Hunter Henry. Pretty fine company, and a pretty fine matchup. It’s not rocket science, sometimes.
10 Ross Dwelley vs. ARI - Kittle has already been ruled out and Emmanuel Sanders is banged up. Matt Breida also sounds doubtful to play. This reads like another potential eruption spot for Deebo Samuel, but also a spot where Dwelley could amass 5-7 targets against the same Cardinals offense that just allowed O.J. Howard to snag 47 yards and a touchdown last week. Dwelley ran a route on 84% of Jimmy G’s dropbacks last week. The tight end pool is too thin to ignore this matchup and that potential volume this week. Sure, pay attention to Garrett Celek, who was officially activated last week...but I think we get at least one more week of Dwelley in this role.
11 Eric Ebron vs. JAC - Just when I think I can write him off, he logs 134 air yards on 12 targets last week. Nutso. Of course, he only caught 5-for-56, but still. The Jaguars aren’t the typically scary defense of old, ranking bottom third (12th most) in fantasy points allowed to tight ends this year. This is despite not playing a lot of imposing guys, with Travis Kelce (3-88) and Delanie Walker (7-64) representing the cream of the crop that the Jags have faced. Ebron is generally targeted deep, as his elite (for a tight end) 9.9 aDOT shows. Among tight ends with more than 15 targets on the year, that aDOT is tied with mark Andrews for 2nd highest, as only Hunter Henry’s aDOT of 11.0 is superior. Ebron is always a risk to not get volume, but he got it last week and he’s always gotten looks down the field. Add in the 10 red zone looks so far (tops on the team for Indy) and you could do worse at this position. It helps that Jacoby Brissett is on track to play, too.
12 Dawson Knox @ MIA - Fresh off of catching 4-of-6 targets for 55 yards against the Browns last week, Knox now draws the Dolphins in sunny Miami. He’ll probably get two targets, but the matchup dictates that I rank him aggressively. I’d rather chase this matchup than endure the floor of the guys who come after...
13 Kyle Rudolph vs. DEN - As much as he has burned me in recent years, I can’t ignore the recent production—especially given the expected absence of Adam Thielen. Just don’t forget Irv Smith Jr., but more on him in a second. Rudolph isn’t amassing tons of yards, so you’re essentially banking on a score. That said, he’s probably one of the top two bets to catch one for Minnesota with Thielen still shelved.
14 T.J. Hockenson vs. DAL - He’s logged his second and third highest yardage totals of the season in the last two weeks, even with Jeff Driskel at the helm last week. The target counts of 7 and 6 over the last two weeks also represent the second and third highest marks for Hockenson on the season. You could do worse at tight end, especially in this matchup. The Cowboys have allowed five scores to tight ends so far, the 4th most in the league.
15 O.J. Howard vs. NO - Howard isn’t back in my circle of trust, but welcome to the ugliness that is tight end rankings, folks. The Saints allowed a score to Austin Hooper last week, one week after letting Charles Clay of Arizona get loose for 88 yards. Stranger things have happened. I’m lower than the consensus on Howard (which is currently around TE11) and I feel like that’s smart.
After these guys, you can consider Jack Doyle in a PPR format, or take a shot on Noah Fant against Minnesota (they funnel targets to tight ends). Perhaps Mike Gesicki won’t let us down two weeks in a row, but the draw against Buffalo is rough. You could chase a good matchup for a low ceiling guy in Jason Witten (@ DET), or chase a score with Darren Fells (@ BAL). Don’t forget about Irv Smith Jr. if you need a dart throw in a PPR format, as he has target counts of 7 and 6 over the last two weeks—or three more targets than Kyle Rudolph over the same time frame. Lastly, I’d be remiss if I didn’t mention the rebirth of Tyler Eifert, who has totaled 6-74 against Seattle and 2-20-1 against Baltimore in his last two weeks. Unfortunately, Ryan Finley is at the helm, so it’s tough to go nuts there. I’d rather take a shot on Dallas Goedert against New England, honestly. All of these guys are TE2 types in my book.
That’s about it for me and tight ends this week. Let me know where I was too high or too low on, as usual...