Week 10 is upon us, which is crazy. We can officially begin plotting for the playoffs...or start looking ahead to next year. It is always a slightly sad time (for me) when I realize the season is going to rapidly hit a downswing. Let’s all keep holding on for as long as we can.
On bye this week are the Broncos (Noah Fant), Texans (Darren Fells), Jaguars, Patriots, Eagles (Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert), and Redskins. So, one elite option in Ertz and a trio of TE2 types are not at our disposal. So we should have some decent options left to us in Week 10, despite six teams being on byes.
*Update: Evan Engram (mid-foot sprain) has been ruled out. So that’s another option we’ll be without.*
1 Travis Kelce @ TEN - I’m ranking Kelce as though Mahomes will be under center. Kelce has topped 70+ air yards in four of nine weeks, second only to Mark Andrews among tight ends (five of nine). Kelce’s aDOT has been at 7.8 and 7.4 in his two Matt Moore weeks, but his season-long mark is 9.4, so that should give you an indication of how much more upside he’ll have with Mahomes slinging him the rock. Kelce leads all tight ends with 83 targets, has one of the highest aDOT marks, and plays with the best quarterback in the league. His 14 red zone targets tops all tight ends. Any of the top four options is a worthy selection, but I give the slight edge to Kelce if Mahomes is back.
2 Hunter Henry @ OAK - Henry had a good outing against Green Bay, totaling 7-84 on 10 targets. The only tight ends who haven’t had good games against this Raiders defense are Noah Fant (2-29) in Week 1 and Trey Burton (3-16) in Week 5. So, a rookie in his first NFL game and a guy who hasn’t been a factor all year...got it. Overall, the Raiders allow the 9th most yardage and 2nd most scores to enemy tight ends, making this a good draw for Henry, who has become the go-to guy for Rivers and the Chargers. Here are Henry’s target counts by week since he returned from injury: 10, 10, 7, and 10. Henry sports a whopping 10.7 aDOT (tops among relevant tight ends) and ranks 7th in air yards FOR THE SEASON among all tight ends despite missing four full games in 2019. He leads all tight ends in air yards since he returned from injury. He is a fantasy football monster, and I’ll bump him into the top spot this week if Kelce gets the downgrade to Matt Moore again.
3 Austin Hooper @ NO - It appears that Matt Ryan will play, so I’m not understanding the implied 19.00 point total. This is a situation to monitor heading into the weekend. No matter what, Hooper’s floor as the primary safety blanket in this offense will keep him in the upper echelon of options. Hooper has a score in three straight games. If Matt Ryan plays, there’s no reason he can’t push for top honors among tight ends this week. And for what it’s worth, Marshon Lattimore should be trailing around behind either Calvin Ridley or Julio Jones, making Hooper all the more enticing as a primary target in the passing game.
4 George Kittle vs. SEA - The Seahawks are one of the better matchups in the NFL with regard to air yards allowed to tight ends. I looked at all nine weeks to see which defenses allowed 70+ yards to a single tight end in each week, and only the Arizona Cardinals allowed more such games to enemy tight ends than the Seahawks. Seattle has done this in three of nine weeks, while Arizona has done it four times. Kittle’s 13 red zone looks ranks second among tight ends, and Kittle has a whopping 27.31% target share for San Francisco. In the two games with Emmanuel Sanders, he has seen a total of 16 targets, while Sanders has seen 15. This, despite only 23 passing attempts by the Niners as a team in Week 8. If you’re doing the math, Kittle has as 28% target share in the two games he’s played with Sanders. He’s still the man...now he just has a little help! Update: Kittle is dealing with a left knee injury that has been described as “fine,” but that’s enough for me to ding him a couple of notches this week. Another situation worth monitoring. If we get word that Kittle is fully healthy heading into this one, a case can easily be made to slot him into the top spot.
5 Mark Andrews @ CIN - He has eclipsed 70+ air yards in five of nine weeks, the most such weeks of any tight end in the NFL. And when he was a bit hobbled in Week 3, Hayden Hurst had 72 air yards...so it’s possible Andrews could have had a whopping six of nine weeks past my arbitrary mark had he been healthy for that one. Anyway, last week’s matchup against New England was brutal. But against these same Bengals in Week 6, Andrews logged 72 air yards and tallied a 6-99 line on 8 targets. I’ve seen more than a few people be down on him lately, but you can’t afford to be that way at a position this thin.
6 Darren Waller vs. LAC - Waller had a dud in Week 9, his second straight week with only two catches. However, his ability to rack up yards after the catch and make big plays keeps him relevant, as evidenced by his 52 yards on those measly two catches last week. And the week prior he still saw a healthy 8 targets. I’m not concerned for Waller, not yet. He’s still a worthy mid-tier tight end—he just has a healthy Tyrell Williams, an emerging Hunter Renfrow, and a run-centric offense to contend with. The Chargers aren’t a great matchup, but with Waller you only need one big play to justify this ranking.
7 Mike Gesicki @ IND - He ranked third in air yards in Week 9 with 75 (excluding the MNF game) and caught 6-of-6 balls for 95 yards as the Dolphins snagged their first win of the year over the hapless Jets. Meanwhile, the Colts allowed Vance McDonald to post a 5-30-1 line on 7 targets last week, good for the No. 6 overall showing. So this is hardly pushing it, as Gesicki’s athleticism now meets great opportunity with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. It is unfortunate that we lost standout rookie receiver Preston Williams due to an ACL tear last week, but that means we can somewhat safely project that DeVante Parker and Mike Gesicki are going to be target-hogs for the foreseeable future. I’m hopping on this train early, in season-long leagues and in daily fantasy. You can find me with 100% Gesicki at only $5,300 on FanDuel this week.
8 Jack Doyle vs. MIA - Look, I’ve been going Ebron over him all year, but Doyle is on the field so much more. If you’re in a league that rewards receptions, I’d roll with Doyle, who has a higher floor in that regard. And the matchup is cake, obviously. I’m hoping for a shootout here. Come on football gods, give me what I want!
9 Greg Olsen @ GB - The Packers are fresh off of allowing 105 air yards to Hunter Henry. Makes sense when you consider the quality of their boundary CBs...this team reminds me a bit of Minnesota in this regard. Targets to tight ends against Green Bay bears out this hypothesis, as the Packers have allowed the 5th highest amount of targets to tight ends in 2019. Only the Chiefs, Vikings, Bucs, Cardinals, and Seahawks have been attacked by tight ends more. Olsen sort of got back on the map with a 3-40 line on 5 targets last week. I can sign off on him as a lower-end TE1 option given the matchup and given Curtis Samuel’s mid-week hamstring injury (and last week’s shoulder injury).
10 Gerald Everett @ PIT - No more Brandin Cooks should help Everett out a bit. Here’s a nice nugget from Tags over at FantasyPros, one that shouts out Everett and this week’s coverboy, Gesicki:
There have been just six tight ends who've averaged at least 55 air yards per game since the start of Week 5. #FantasyFootball— Mike Tagliere (@MikeTagliereNFL) November 4, 2019
The only “surprises” to the layperson should be Everett and Gesicki. In what is already a thin position, these two make for viable starters in Week 10 given the byes and the injury to Evan Engram.
11 Jonnu Smith vs. KC - Speaking of injuries, Delanie Walker was still sidelined as of Wednesday, so Smith makes sense in this matchup. The Titans as home underdogs seems like a fine place to take a shot on a tight end. If you’ve been using Jonnu, I think you’ve got this one last week before you cut bait with him. As previously stated, the Chiefs are frequently attacked with tight ends, allowing the 2nd most targets to tight ends on the season. 58 receptions allowed to enemy tight ends so far is the third highest mark in the NFL, trailing only the Vikings (59) and Cardinals (62). It’s a quality matchup in a game the Titans should be trailing...you could do much worse.
12 Jason Witten vs. MIN - Anybody ever watch the movie Troy? Remember the scene where Brad Pitt’s Achilles smites the giant Boagrius within seconds and then shouts to the entire remaining enemy army: “IS THERE NO ONE ELSE? IS THERE NO ONE ELSE?” That’s how I feel right now. But this is a good matchup, volume-wise, as the Vikes give up the most targets in the NFL to opposing tight ends. That, and Witten is coming off of his best game of the year, where he snagged 8-of-9 targets for 58 yards. This isn’t a high ceiling play, but it is as viable as any other I can find to round out the TE1 options this week.
13 T.J. Hockenson @ CHI - He saw 7 targets last week, tied for second on the team alongside Kenny Golladay. This could theoretically coincide with the Lions’ loss of Kerryon Johnson (and them finding no other viable candidate in the running game). The Bears have allowed the 4th most yardage to tight ends this year, trailing only the Cardinals, Buccaneers, and Seahawks. So there’s room for upside if Hockenson continues being one of the top three options in this passing attack.
That’s the lucky 13 this week. At this point you’re fishing, and I’d start with Eric Ebron in a prime matchup against Miami. Yes, Doyle is the chain-mover, but Ebron is the big play threat who has a better chance to score. And yes, O.J. Howard is a viable TE2 target this week since he’s back and healthy. It’s still a premier matchup for tight ends, and it makes sense that Patrick Peterson will be trying to slow down Mike Evans—which obviously means it’s time for a Chris Godwin week. However, after Godwin, maybe we actually see Howard get something going. But I wouldn’t feel great about it.
Vance McDonald against the Rams is probably a slightly safer bet, and he’s coming off of a solid week anyway. You could try to talk me into Kyle Rudolph against Dallas given Adam Thielen’s absence, but I’d rather just take the upside in the form of Irv Smith Jr. Chris Herndon IV has a plus matchup, but he’s still limited in practice. I’d like to see an actual game from him first. Lastly, Jared Cook could be back on the radar if he gives it a go, but that game could get lopsided in a hurry. I worry about Cook’s volume—plus, it’s his first game back. Again, I’d like to see a game first.
That’s it for me this week! Who did I miss?