Championship week is always bittersweet. The end is near! Thankfully, we’ll have the scalding Hot Stove around to keep us warm when fantasy football is a distant memory.
1 George Kittle vs. LAR - Kittle and Kelce have similar matchups this week, both stout pass defenses with a 5.8 NY/A allowed this year. The Rams have allowed five more scores, but the Bears have allowed 23 more receptions to tight ends. It’s a push for me. Play whichever guy you drafted. I need to pick one, so I’ll side with the 49ers at home and pick their guy who had a massive 17 targets last week.
2 Travis Kelce @ CHI- Again, a similar defense by the numbers. In PPR formats you can feel encouraged, as the Bears have allowed the 3rd most receptions to enemy tight ends in 2019...and Kelce’s 86 receptions leads all tight ends. And he averages over 80 receiving yards per game. The man is a beast.
3 Zach Ertz vs. DAL - He’s the only tight end not named Kittle or Kelce to average six catches per game. Ertz’s 84 catches trails only Kelce’s 86. Ertz also leads all tight ends with 129 targets. The Cowboys overall are a tough pass defense, with a 5.8 NY/A mark. However, the ‘Boys have allowed the 3rd most receptions to tight ends—84, to be exact (tied with the Bears). Given the dearth of healthy receiving talent in Philly right now and the fact that the Eagles are at home, it’s not insane to consider Ertz right alongside Kelce this week. I think they are that close.
4 Mark Andrews @ CLE - Andrews isn’t the PPR asset that the big three are, but he is a better bet to score a touchdown than pretty much anyone on this list. The Ravens are projected for 29 points against the Browns...that’s a whole lot of scoring...
5 Darren Waller @ LAC - Whereas Andrews is the standard league play at this point, Waller has a strong case to be ranked as the TE4 in PPR formats. He averages about 5.7 receptions per game, and the Raiders will be without stud running back Josh Jacobs this week. This isn’t a great matchup, but Waller’s 26% target share is a nice floor.
6 Austin Hooper vs. JAC - With Calvin Ridley on injured reserve, I can’t go any lower on Hooper—who is now entering his third game back since injury. The Jags have allowed 7 scores to tight ends, tied for the 4th highest mark in the NFL. The Jags are fresh off of a tight end beating, as Waller posted an 8-122 line on 10 targets a week ago.
7 Jared Cook @ TEN - The Titans are a middling pass defense overall and against tight ends. Drew Brees is red-hot, with only one incompletion last week. Alvin Kamara gets his share of receiving work, but after that it’s only Michael Thomas and Jared Cook in this passing tree.
8 Jacob Hollister vs. ARI - He hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 10, but the Cardinals have allowed a whopping 15 of them and no Josh Gordon means Hollister is a great bet for one if the Seahawks enter the red area.
9 Hunter Henry vs. OAK - This is a pristine matchup. The Raiders have allowed the 9th most yardage (807) and 2nd most touchdowns (9) to enemy tight ends. Henry isn’t a target hog due to a healthy Chargers receiving group, but he doesn’t have to be to catch a touchdown (or two).
9 Dallas Goedert vs. DAL - Same deal as before, if you’ve been reading in this space. Ertz is the top play, but Goedert stays involved due to a lack of receiving options.
11 Tyler Higbee @ SF - This is a murderous matchup, as the 49ers have allowed the 3rd fewest receptions (52) and the fewest yardage (418) to enemy tight ends. If you start him, you’re hoping for a score. Be wary of Gerald Everett’s status (as I already am). There’s a chance Everett returns in this one. Given the strength of the matchup, I’d be looking elsewhere if that happened.
12 Greg Olsen @ IND - Will Grier will be in a quarterback in his first start, and Olsen is returning from a concussion. It’s a pretty decent matchup by the numbers,..the Colts are tied for the 8th most receptions allowed to tight ends (75) and have given up 6 scores (tied for 9th most).
After these 12 it gets pretty murky. And let’s face it, the Olsen play is already murky with Grier in at quarterback. Anyway, here’s the rest of what I think is viable this week:
13 O.J. Howard vs. HOU
14 Jack Doyle vs. CAR
15 Mike Gesicki vs. CIN
16 Jonnu Smith vs. NO (big game last week)
17 Noah Fant vs. DET (just make sure he’s practicing through the weekend)
18 Darren Fells @ TB (VERY scoring dependent but this is a great matchup)
19 Kyle Rudolph vs. GB
20 Jason Witten @ PHI
And then honest to goodness, there’s just not a whole lot left after those 20 guys. I’m around any time here at Fake Teams or on the Twitter machine at @HeathCapps if anyone wants to chat about tight ends (or the MLB Hot Stove!). Let me know if you think I missed out on anyone this week. Good luck chasing that hardware this weekend, ladies and gentlemen!