My condolences to the masses who didn’t get to read this prior to Thursday Night Football. Hope you enjoyed your mediocre Evan Engram (6-46) and the streaming of Richard Rodgers (6-85). Rodgers took advantage of all the injuries to the Eagles receiving group, which includes the absences of Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert.
Last week I was considering Jonnu Smith over Mark Andrews rest of season...this week we are still slightly wondering how healthy Smith is. Ugh. Anyway, onto the Sunday games. Let’s do this.
1 Travis Kelce @ DEN
2 George Kittle @ NE
Soooooo, Kelce in what should be a snow game, but Patrick Mahomes says he loves the snow. You’re never fading Mahomes or Kelce. Here’s some Twitter “research” for you:
Kittle’s matchup is brutal. The Patriots have allowed 15 receptions to tight ends, second-fewest in the league. They’ve also allowed the third-fewest yards (200) and only one score. I still don’t see how you bench Kittle in redraft formats...but this IS the week to not be overweight on him in NFL DFS given his apparent lack of a ceiling.
3 Hunter Henry vs. JAC
The Jaguars have allowed a lot of touchdowns to tight ends, five to be exact. And while the Jags rank 22nd in targets to the big guys, they rank 17th in receptions (25) and seventh (372) in yards allowed. So, lots of chunk gains and touchdowns. I like the sound of that given Henry’s volume. He’s seen target counts of 8, 8, 7, 4, and 8 so far.
4 Darren Waller vs. TB
Maybe Waller won’t see double-digit targets with Henry Ruggs back in the fold, but his floor is still elite. The Bucs are a bottom third matchup for tight ends, but Waller is still a solid play in formats that give points for receptions. Tampa Bay allowed big target counts to Jared Cook (5-80 on seven looks) and Noah Fant (5-46 on 10 looks), and Waller is used in a similar fashion as those guys.
5 T.J. Hockenson at ATL
The Falcons have given up some huge performances to tight ends, notably Dalton Schultz (9-88-1), Jimmy Graham (6-60-2), and Bob Tonyan (6-98-3). Schultz and Graham both saw 10 targets, too—and that jives with the Falcons allowing the seventh-most targets (49) to enemy tight ends thus far. They’ve also allowed the third-most receptions (40), the second-most yardage (438), and the most touchdowns (7). Hockenson hasn’t exceeded five receptions or 62 yards in any matchup this year, but he has scored in three of five games. Today is the day he could put it all together.
6 Robert Tonyan at HOU
If we are jamming in what worked last week, welcome to Bob Tonyan week. Last week, Anthony Firkser went off with nine targets (8-113-1) against the Texans after Jonnu Smith left with an ankle injury. Tonyan played through his own ankle injury last week and was stymied by that stout Bucs defense. This week should prove much, much easier.
7 Jared Cook vs. CAR
8 Jonnu Smith vs. PIT
The Panthers and Steelers are both rough matchups for tight ends. I think given the injuries to New Orleans (Michael Thomas, Emmanuel Sanders) and Smith’s recent ankle injury, I’m giving the nod to Cook here.
9 Rob Gronkowski at LV
This is NOT a great matchup. The Raiders have allowed a combined 18-202-2 line to tight ends. Still, Gronk seems to be emerging in this offense. He’s logged target counts of six and eight over the last two weeks, and finally found paydirt in Week 6. In a game where the Bucs could conceivably score four touchdowns, Gronk makes for a solid play.
10 Noah Fant at KC
Let’s hope for some short passes to Fant in the snowy weather game. Fant is returning from an ankle injury, but he’s expected to play and that makes him a top 10 option at this garbage position.
11 Jimmy Graham at LAR
12 Darren Fells vs. GB
Jordan Akins still isn’t practicing since his Week 4 concussion, so it seems that Fells is still safe to fire up in Week 7. As for Graham, he’s got the much better matchup of these two, as the Rams are allowing the eighth-most receptions (32) and eighth-most scores (4) to tight ends so far. The Packers have allowed only 21 receptions and one score, for reference—but they have allowed a similar yardage total. In fact, the Packers have been a “bend but don’t break” defense against tight ends, with a lot of guys posting useful yardage totals but just not finding the end zone. I like Fells as a premier streaming option for today’s games.
13 Eric Ebron at TEN
The Titans let Darren Fells (6-85-1) pop again in Week 6, and Tennessee has allowed the seventh most points to enemy tight ends despite not facing elite talent at the position. This is a great matchup for Ebron.
14 Hayden Hurst vs. DET
This is a brutal matchup for Hurst, as the Lions have allowed only 10 receptions to tight ends all year, the fewest in the NFL. That equates to only 96 yards allowed, also the fewest in the NFL. You’re really, really, really hoping for a touchdown here. The Lions have allowed a pair of those, to Jimmy Graham and Robert Tonyan. The only silver lining here is that the competition Detroit has faced isn’t superb—Hurst looks like the most athletic cover they’ll have endured all season by my count. I don’t think you can push him down too far.
15 Logan Thomas vs. DAL
Suddenly the Washington Football Team is favored at home over the Dallas Cowboys. I don’t know what to make of that, honestly. I’d expect the Antonio Gibson show today, but Thomas is a decent dart throw given last week’s performance (4-42-1) and the middling matchup against Dallas.
16 Dalton Schultz at WAS
Staying in the same game, Schultz is a solid play despite Andy Dalton’s deficiencies at quarterback. In a game where the Cowboys project to be trailing, it’s fine to take a stab against this defense—which has allowed five scores to the big guys so far. Washington has also allowed 386 yards receiving, the fifth-highest mark in the league to tight ends. Add in Schultz’s chance at five or so targets and you’ve got yourself a TE2 option.
17 Tyler Higbee vs. CHI
Over the last month he’s averaging three targets per game. He also didn’t practice this week due to a hand injury—though he is expected to play. The Bears are a middling matchup for tight ends. I am not enthused.
18 David Njoku at CIN
The Browns have a healthy implied total, and the Bengals have been a sieve against opposing tight ends. The second-most targets (56), fifth-most receptions (36), fourth-most yards (404), and three scores (12th). If Njoku doesn’t show up on the stat sheet this week, I’m probably not considering him much moving forward.
19 Greg Olsen at ARZ
Another healthy point total for Seattle and a middling matchup against the Cardinals.
20 Tyler Kroft @ NYJ
Kroft rounds out my top 20 in a game where he’ll have a decent chance to score. The Bills are implied for 28 points, and the absence of John Brown might help his very low target share just a bit.
21 Drew Sample CLE
Sample gets a great matchup against the Browns, so perhaps he’ll see more than his usual one or two targets. In Week 2 against these same Browns, he saw nine targets and turned that into a 7-45 line.
22 Anthony Firkser vs. PIT
His prospects are numbed this week due to the return of Jonnu Smith, but last week’s 8-113-1 line is hard to ignore when fishing for another TE2 option.
23 Chris Herndon vs. BUF
By the numbers it’s a good matchup, but Herndon wasn’t even targeted last week. I’d look to any other Jets pass-catcher instead.
24 Harrison Bryant at CIN
I like Harrison Bryant nearly as much as I like Njoku, and this is a great matchup.
25 Gerald Everett vs. CHI
Everett rounds out my top 25, mostly due to some questions about Higbee’s hand injury. I can’t go crazy given that Higbee is expected to play, though.
Let me know where you think I’m too high or too low this week. I’m pretty into Hunter Henry given that Justin Herbert should eat against the Jaguars today...