My disclaimer for this effort is that yours truly isn’t playing any Week 17 fantasy football, outside of a league where our final spans Weeks 16 and 17 and my options at tight end/flex are Travis Kelce and George Kittle. I won’t have to do much thinking in that format. And for the record, I hate that we play in Week 17.
If you are playing for real this week, good luck to you! But next year, consider wrapping up the festivities before someone like Lamar Jackson gets benched...
1 George Kittle @ SEA - He’s sitting on a 78-967-5 line so far, but that’s over only 13 games played. He’ll be chasing the 1,000 yard threshold against the team who has allowed the 2nd most yardage to enemy tight ends in 2019 (1,013). Only the Cardinals are worse. Kittle’s per game average is 6.0-74-0.38, which is right in line with Kelce. The Niners are playing for homefield advantage in the NFC. If they don’t win against Seattle, they could play on the road in the wild card round. There’s a lot at stake.
2 Travis Kelce vs. LAC - Over 15 games, he averages 6.26-80-0.46. He’s only six receptions away from his second straight year with 100 catches. His overall 94-1205-6 line is monstrous. His QB is Patrick Mahomes...and the Chiefs are still playing for position. They could wind up as high as the 2-seed or as low as the 4-seed. Should be business as usual.
3 Tyler Higbee vs. ARI - He’s the TE10 on the season despite being a part-timer until Week 13. That’s how bad the position has been overall, but also indicates that this ranking is accurate. Since Gerald Everett’s injury in Week 12, Higbee has averaged an obscene 11 targets per game. His performances over that stretch: 7-107-1, 7-116, 12-111, 9-104. Until last week you could have chalked it up to beating up on good matchups—ARI, SEA, DAL—but last week he smoked the 49ers. And even if the ease of matchup were a thing, this week he gets the softest matchup of them all in Arizona. The only concern here would be Everett’s snaps increasing. However, Everett only played four snaps in Week 16, and the Rams don’t have anything to play for. It makes more sense for the Rams to make sure Everett stays healthy heading into the offseason, if you ask me...
4 Austin Hooper @ TB - He was the TE13 last week, posting a 7-82 line on 9 targets. However, there were a lot of TE scores last week...definitely some fluky occurrences. For instance, Tyler Eifert and C.J. Uzomah aren’t getting to score against Miami every week. There were other examples, but those two stuck out. Hooper’s 9 targets was tied for the 4th most in Week 16, behind only Mike Gesicki, Dallas Goedert, and Tyler Higbee. He’s endured some tough matchups since he returned, but he’s seen target counts of 6, 6, and 9 in those weeks. This week he gets an awesome matchup against the Bucs, who have allowed the 5th most yardage (899) and 7th most scores (7) to enemy tight ends.
5 Dallas Goedert @ NYG - With the Ertz injury last week, Goedert logged a 9-91-1 line on a massive 12 targets. My ranking assumes that Ertz is either out or very limited. If Ertz is declared out, you could rank Goedert as high as the TE3 this week—but that also depends on the status of Gerald Everett. So stay tuned, gents. No matter what, my lean with the Eagles tight ends (if I were playing this week) would be to rank Goedert higher than Ertz.
6 Jared Cook @ CAR - The Saints have much to play for, as a win and a Packers loss (@ DET) would grant them a first round bye. Same with a win and a Niners loss (@ SEA). Or, wins by the Seahawks (vs. SF) and Packers (@ DET). Put simply, the Saints should be motivated. Cook is up to a whopping 8 TDs now, second only to Mark Andrews (10) among tight ends. Given the state of Baltimore this week (i.e. resting key guys) that makes Cook the best bet to score compared to his fellow tight ends. The Panthers are a tough matchup for the big guys, but I’m leaning on the arm of Drew Brees and his chemistry with Cook. For what it’s worth, Cook roasted the Panthers in Week 12, logging a 6-99-1 line on 8 targets.
7 Hunter Henry @ KC - The Chargers are up against a motivated (and productive) Chiefs defense. However, Kansas City still allows the 4th most yardage (919) and 3rd most receptions (91) to tight ends. You won’t find much better to hang your proverbial hat on this week.
8 Jonnu Smith @ HOU - The Texans are already AFC South champs, but they can move up to the 3-seed if they beat the Titans and the Chiefs lose to the Chargers. So Jonnu and Tennessee will have their work cut out for them. The Titans are currently in the lead for the final spot in the AFC playoff picture, a spot they can capture by beating the Texans or with losses by the Steelers (@ BAL) and Colts (@ JAC). Smith has found ways to produce in three straight weeks, logging these performances: 3-29-1, 5-60 (and 1-57 rushing), and 3-63-1. The 24-year-old’s athleticism is starting to take hold. I’m stashing him in dynasty formats where I can, and hoping for a continued strong end to the season for the young guy.
9 Darren Waller @ DEN - The Raiders still have a slim chance of making it into the postseason, and their scenario starts with needing to beat the Broncos first and foremost. Unfortunately for Waller, Hunter Renfrow (7-107-1) returned with a vengeance in Week 16, which means Waller is now a low-end TE1 option at best. I’d move him down farther if there were literally anything else I liked. But given Doyle’s disappearing act recently and Gesicki’s tough matchup, there just isn’t much to work from.
10 Jacob Hollister vs. SF - This one should be a slugfest, and it isn’t a good matchup. But he’s Russell Wilson’s starting tight end, so there’s that.
11 O.J. Howard vs. ATL - He continues producing absolutely mediocre weeks despite being in some good spots recently. The Falcons are another solid matchup, but I wouldn’t hold my breath.
12 Mike Gesicki @ NE - The Pats are a tough draw, and New England is still playing for a first round bye. The Pats can get said bye by beating the Dolphins or with a Kansas City loss to the Chargers. Looks like it’ll be full throttle for New England, who have allowed the 7th fewest yards (646) and 5th fewest receptions (59) to opposing tight ends.
13 Jack Doyle @ JAC - The Colts are eliminated from playoff contention, but Doyle still has a chance due to the absence of Eric Ebron. The Jags have allowed 7 scores to tight ends, the 7th most in the league. Doyle rounds out our “Lucky 13” this week.
Noah Fant at home against the Raiders is probably where I would look to next, though he’s in a bit of an annoying time share with Jeff Heuerman, so there’s that. Jason Witten at home against Washington in a must-win game could be a scenario where the old guy comes up big. Darren Fells at home against the Titans is another TD-chasing spot.
I’m fading Mark Andrews due to the Ravens resting up. I’d consider Vance McDonald if I was desperate, for the same reason. Also in that game, Hayden Hurst and/or Nick Boyle would be decent options if we knew Andrews was either out or mostly out. I’d love to take a shot on Irv Smith Jr. in a deep format against the Bears, who have allowed the 2nd most receptions (94) and 6th most yards (866) to tight ends in 2019. Let’s see the young guy play, Minnesota!
Finally, if Zach Ertz gives it a go, I’d slot him in as my TE9 ahead of Waller, bumping everyone else down a notch on the list. I’d rather have Ertz playing through pain than Waller (who has taken a clear backseat to Renfrow). That’s how slim the pickings are among tight ends, folks.