It’s been a crazy week for yours truly, but I’m skating under the Thursday Night Football wire to get your tight end rankings to you. There’s no time to spare, so...
1 George Kittle vs. MIA
2 Travis Kelce vs. LV
3 Mark Andrews vs. CIN
Kittle is coming off of a Week 4 eruption (15-183-1) which also included a rushing score. The matchup against the Dolphins certainly isn’t threatening. In fact, it’s the cushiest matchup of them all, according to the 8.2 NY/A allowed (worst in NFL) and the 6.6 Y/P allowed (also the worst in the NFL). Kelce is a close second in a game where the Chiefs are projected to score over 34 points. Andrews makes hay with scoring, as he did last week. He only managed three targets and three receptions, but he had his second two-score game of the young season.
4 Darren Waller @ KC
5 Zach Ertz @ PIT
I’ve got Waller over Ertz, as Waller’s game projects as a higher-scoring affair in which the Raiders should be chasing all day. Both the Chiefs and the Steelers are strong defenses, but the Chiefs allow a tad more per play and have been a tad weaker against tight ends. Waller’s 40 targets also leads all tight ends by a mile, with Kelce checking into second place at 35. Waller is also a surprising second place among tight ends with seven red zone looks, trailing only Mike Gesicki.
If Ertz produces this week, he’ll likely need plenty of volume to get there. This isn’t a game we expect to have a lot of points. The volume piece is a tiny bit sketchier of a prospect this week with DeSean Jackson and Alshon Jeffery looking like they might play, but Dallas Goedert is still out so there’s still hope here—especially in the first game back for those receivers.
6 Jonnu Smith vs. BUF
7 Hunter Henry @ NO
8 Evan Engram @ DAL
9 Tyler Higbee @ WAS
Jonnu was the TE1 prior to missing a game in Week 4 and is going overlooked this week. He’s the TE12 per FantasyPros, and that’s a slap in the face. The Bills have only allowed two scores to tight ends, but they’ve allowed the most yardage to the position so far, at 359 yards. They’ve allowed 31 receptions to enemy tight ends, trailing only Atlanta (33) and New Orleans (32). I don’t know how the heck fantasy sites are going to treat this since the Titans game has been moved to Tuesday, but I’m going to act as if he belongs in the Week 5 set for right now.
Henry and Higbee are two guys who can score against two defenses that have been poor against tight ends. Engram was one of three tight ends to see double-digit targets in Week 4, with 10 in all. I can’t shake that volume, especially in a game where we expect the Giants to be chasing all day. He should fall into the top 10 this week based on how that game projects.
10 Dalton Schultz vs. NYG
Schultz is quietly the TE3 since taking over for Blake Jarwin. In the last three weeks he has two top 10 finishes (TE9, TE26, TE4). This isn’t a great matchup by the numbers, but this is the highest octane offense the Giants will have faced. This is the end of the top 10 for me.
11 Hayden Hurst vs. CAR
12 Jimmy Graham vs. TB
13 Rob Gronkowski @ CHI
Graham gets a middling matchup for tight ends against the Bears, but Chicago has allowed three scores to the big guys already—tied for sixth-most in the NFL. Graham ranks 10th among tight ends with 22 targets this year, but he’s tied for second with seven red zone looks. He’s a back-end TE1 given this ugly-looking landscape
14 Eric Ebron vs. PHI
15 Mike Gesicki @ SF
Heavy fade of Gesicki this week. Back-to-back weeks of one catch for 15 yards, and facing off against the Niners (who destroy enemy tight ends)? No thanks.
16 Austin Hooper vs. IND
His outlook improves if OBJ misses, but I don’t think OBJ will miss.
17 Logan Thomas vs. LAR
18 Drew Sample @ BAL
19 Ian Thomas @ ATL
20 Greg Olsen vs. MIN
Let’s face it, we’re getting desperate here. I think Ian Thomas is a logical heave this week given the matchup and Teddy Bridgewater’s ascendance (at least in good matchups). Olsen isn’t flashy, but he saw seven targets last week and the Vikings have allowed the seventh-most yards to tight ends.
After this, you could take a gamble on Cameron Brate in tonight’s game, or hope that Tyler Eifert finds paydirt (he did have six targets last week). Darren Fells would warrant some TE2 consideration if Jordan Akins (concussion) were to miss. Aside from those, you’re rolling the dice on one of at least three Colts tight ends or hoping Gerald Everett can score another touchdown. Good luck with that...