Happy Thanksgiving, ladies and gentlemen. If you’ve been following along all year, I commend you. If you’re new to the party, welcome! Let’s get into this week’s tight end options. I’d say this week is highlighted by some timeshares...that seems to be the common wrinkle, at least.
1 Travis Kelce @ TB
2 Darren Waller @ ATL
Kelce (93) and Waller (83) lead this position in volume by quite a bit. Hunter Henry and Evan Engram are next at 70 targets apiece. Anyway, Waller (18) leads all tight ends in red zone looks, while Kelce (16) is tied for second. To cap it all off, these two play in the two highest-scoring games of the week, and each of their teams has over 29 points implied. These are the clear-cut top two right now in fantasy football.
3 Mark Andrews @ PIT
He’s shown signs of life over the last two weeks, logging lines of 7/9-61 and 5/7-96-1. Yes, it’s a brutal matchup, but if the Ravens do a single thing via the air, he’ll have to be involved. After Andrews, this position falls off the face of a cliff. As of now, this game is expected to be played on Sunday.
4 TJ Hockenson vs. HOU
He’s had at least 50 yards or a score in every game except for Week 10. Given the injuries to Kenny Golladay and Danny Amendola, you can’t afford to fade him. I wouldn’t fault anyone for rolling with his matchup over Mark Andrews’ either. But I’m leaning Andrews by a hair.
5 Hunter Henry @ BUF
He hasn’t had the yardage consistency of Hockenson, but he has had the volume and he’s found paydirt in each of the last two weeks. The Bills show up as a middling pass defense overall, but they funnel yardage inside to tight ends—their 642 yards allowed to the position is the highest mark in the NFL. The Bills have also allowed the most receptions (59) and the third-most scores (6). Henry has target counts of 7, 6, and 7 over the last three weeks. You don’t get much better bets for volume than this.
6 Evan Engram @ CIN
7 Dallas Goedert vs. SEA
8 Noah Fant vs. NO
I have these three guys pretty close, but I like Engram’s matchup the best and he’s the guy who has seen double-digit targets on the regular in 2020. Goedert has now seen six targets in back-to-back weeks for the Eagles, while Fant finally looks healthy after battling a recent rib injury.
9 Austin Hooper @ JAC
Insert “is there no one else” Achilles GIF. Okay, I’m not sure I could find a GIF, and even if I could I’d probably mess up embedding it into this paragraph. Anyway, the Browns might ONLY have to deal with some rain this weekend, which is an upgrade over the weather they’ve had recently. Given that OBJ is injured and Jarvis Landry has been a no-show all year, it’s feasible that Hooper can build off of last week’s five targets. He only managed 3/5-33 against the Eagles in Week 11, but the Jaguars have allowed the most scores in the league to opposing tight ends, at eight.
10 Rob Gronkowski vs. KC
11 Hayden Hurst vs. LV
12 Eric Ebron vs. BAL
I call this grouping the “touchdown dependent tight ends buried beneath epic receiving corps.” Okay, maybe I should work on the title. But think about the supporting casts that these guys have to contend with. In Hurst’s case, he could theoretically get a boost if Julio Jones is out or in decoy mode this weekend. That’s a double-edged sword though, as the entire offense takes a hit without Jones. And I woke up to the news that Hurst missed Wednesday’s practice with an ankle injury...mid-week injuries are definitely something to monitor.
13 Jonnu Smith @ IND
He’s seen six targets in each of the last two weeks despite the continued emergence of Anthony Firkser. He’s also caught a touchdown in three straight games. So even though the Colts are a brutal matchup for tight ends, Smith’s got as much touchdown equity as any guy left on this list—this game has a 51.5 point total, after all.
14 Robert Tonyan vs. CHI
“Big Bob” scored against that brutal Colts defense last week, so he’s now got six scores on the season. The Packers have an implied 26.75 point total.
15 Mike Gesicki @ NYJ
He’s quietly tied for the seventh-most red zone looks among tight ends, at 12. He leads the Dolphins in this regard, as DeVante Parker is second on the team with only seven such looks. This is good news in a game where Miami has an implied total over 25 points. Gesicki has managed to go 2/5-40 and 2/5-43 in his last two games...add a score into that and all of a sudden you’ve got something special.
16 Logan Thomas @ DAL
Over the last three weeks with Alex Smith at quarterback, Thomas has managed target counts of 6, 5, and 5. I think you’ll want a piece of Alex Smith’s comeback story in today’s Thanksgiving Day game.
17 Jordan Reed @ LAR
The Rams are another team who show up strong against the pass in general, allowing only a 5.1 NY/A so far this year (best in the NFL). They’ve allowed only 2,006 passing yards on the year, better than every other team not named Washington (1,954). Against tight ends however, the Rams have been targeted by tight ends the second-most in the league, at 86 targets. Only the Panthers (87) have more, and Carolina has played an extra game over L.A. This has resulted in the seventh-most receptions (53) allowed to tight ends by Los Angeles. Reed is a solid TE2 play this week.
18 Jordan Akins @ DET
The Lions have been epic against enemy tight ends between the 20s, allowing only 33 receptions (third-fewest) and 344 yards (second-fewest). However, they have allowed five scores so far, which is middle-of-the-pack at 14th in the NFL. Akins’ usage is trending back up after injury, and the Texans will be without Kenny Stills and Randall Cobb this week.
Jordan Akins snap percentages:— Ben Cummins (@BenCumminsFF) November 25, 2020
Week 1: 81%
Week 2: 83%
Week 3: 68%
Week 4: 29% - got injured
Week 9: 34% - returned from injury
Week 10: 42%
Week 11: 51%
Usage trending back up and no Cobb
I’m definitely taking a shot on Akins as a strong TE2 play with room for more in a game with a 51-point total where the Texans are implied for over 27 points.
19 Dalton Schultz vs. WAS
Over his last three games he’s seen 8, 7, and 6 targets...and last week four of those six looks came inside the red zone (yes, he scored). He’s not a shiny option, but he’s getting some opportunity.
20 Jared Cook @ DEN
He was a no-show last week in Taysom Hill’s start, managing one catch for six yards.
21 Trey Burton vs. TEN
We’re back to a three-man timeshare given that Jack Doyle returned last week, but this one has a high point total and Burton should see the most routes of the three tight ends.
22 Tyler Eifert vs. CLE
Eifert did well three weeks ago in a plus matchup against Houston, managing 4/5-48. After that he ran into rough matchups against Green Bay and Pittsburgh, and understandably disappeared. However, the Browns are a great play for tight end streamers. They’ve allowed the third-most targets (81), second-most receptions (58), fifth-most yardage (583), and fourth-most scores (7). It’s a great matchup, plus we get Mike Glennon under center for the Jaguars—he can’t be any worse than Jake Luton’s four picks were a week ago.
23 Will Dissly @ PHI
The Eagles are bottom five in receptions allowed to tight ends (56) and have allowed six scores. It’s a quality matchup for Dissly, and the Seahawks have a healthy 27.50 implied total. With Greg Olsen (foot) headed to I.R., we get a two-man timeshare in Dissly (the better blocker who should see the field more) and Jacob Hollister—who has more targets on the year despite playing fewer snaps than Dissly so far. Here’s a lovely Twitter thread:
Will Dissly’s run a route on just 39% of his snaps this year while blocking for 61%— Kev Mahserejian (@RotoSurgeon) November 25, 2020
Jacob Hollister’s run a route on 55% of his snaps and blocked the other 45%
Dissly’s seen more than 2 targets in a game once all year. Hollister thrice with a max of 7
*numbers via @PFF*
Sooooo, even Hollister is viable here, if you’re desperate. I may be in one league where I am forced to start two tight ends if Hurst can’t go.
24 Jimmy Graham @ GB
Will Mitchell Trubisky give him a boost? This is a rough matchup...the Pack have allowed the fourth-fewest receptions (34) and fifth-fewest yardage (416) to enemy tight ends. They’ve also allowed only three scores, but Graham is tied for second among all tight ends with 16 red zone looks on the year.
Thus ends the TE2 options for this week. If I were digging deeper I’d be simply chasing scores in games with high totals. Irv Smith Jr. and Dawson Knox fit that bill. You can also consider Tyler Higbee and/or Gerald Everett for the Rams, but they are the pure definition of cannibalization. They also face a brutal matchup for tight ends against the Niners. Count me out on the pair of them this week, and in my league with Hurst as my TE2 option, I’m going to take a shot on Hollister over Everett if Hurst can’t suit up.
Please let Hurst play this week. And the ludicrousness of hoping that a guy who managed ZERO fantasy points a week ago plays for you this week sums up about everything you need to know about the tight end position.