If you’ve endured this crazy NFL season well enough to have made the fantasy football playoffs, I salute you.
For a few more weeks we’ll rank these guys, even though my skin in the fake game is considerably less now due to playing in far fewer leagues in 2020. I had a few misses this year, namely Hayden Hurst disappearing over the last couple of weeks. Anyway, let’s get into it for Week 14, which is the start of what could be a championship run for some of you...
1 Travis Kelce @ MIA
2 Darren Waller vs. IND
3 Mark Andrews @ CLE
With everything on the line this week, it’s no time to get cute with the top tier. I’d pour more cold water on Andrews if his matchup wasn’t so elite. But he came off of the Covid-19 list on Wednesday of this week, and as long as he plays I’m jamming him in against the Browns’ atrocious tight end defense. As for Waller, it’s a rough matchup but he’s a target-hog and he actually leads all NFL tight ends in red zone looks (21), outpacing even Kelce (18). Don’t overthink it with these three. Even Andrews had a pair of get-right games prior to hitting the Covid-19 list, tallying lines of 7-61 (@ NE) and 5-96-1 (vs. TEN). I’m trusting him this week if I drafted him and somehow managed to make the playoffs.
4 Hunter Henry vs. ATL
It’s crazy how it feels like we are streaming already, and we aren’t even out of the top five. Henry put up a dud in Week 13, with one measly catch for five yards (only 2 targets). But if you survived and advanced, I think you have to take advantage of Atlanta’s weak defense against enemy tight ends. Henry’s in a tier of his own after the big three this week—or he’s safely in the Mark Andrews tier, if you want to view things that way. He’s only tied for ninth among tight ends in red zone looks (13), but fourth among his peers with a whopping 81 targets on the season.
5 T.J. Hockenson vs. GB
He’s among the safest tight end choices on the board, as he’s third in receptions (52), third in yards (614), and tied for sixth in touchdowns (5) among tight ends. Over the last three weeks he’s seen target counts of 7, 8, and 9, respectively. He hasn’t scored, but he’s managed to tally lines of 4-68, 5-89, and 7-84 over that stretch. You can’t find many safer choices on the tight end board, even given a tougher matchup for tight ends. Goedert (5-66) and Ertz (2-31) still combined for a pretty healthy total last week, for what it’s worth.
6 Eric Ebron @ BUF
The Bills are a plus matchup and Ebron is on a roll over the last two weeks, logging target counts of 11 and 11 in Weeks 12 and 13. He’s tallied lines of 7-54 and 7-68 over that time, and he walks into a matchup against a weak Bills secondary (at least against tight ends). Ebron’s 15 red zone looks is tied for fifth among tight ends, and the Bills have allowed the most receptions (73), 2nd most yardage (803), and are tied for the 7th most scores (7) allowed to enemy tight ends. Ride the wave.
7 Mike Gesicki vs. KC
Call me crazy, but I’m chasing the shootout here. This is a position bereft of safety, and Gesicki is coming off of a breakout game last week (9-188-1). Despite a slow start, Gesicki ranks 12th among tight ends in targets (64) and receptions (40). He’s also tied for fifth among tight ends in red zone targets (15). This game also has a game total over 50, and the Dolphins project to be passing quite a bit in order to keep pace with Patrick Mahomes and company. I’m still a believer.
8 Noah Fant @ CAR
He’s got some hope for volume, as he’s tallied over 50 yards receiving in two of the last three weeks, and the Panthers are bottom five in targets (98), receptions (67), and yardage allowed (698) to tight ends on the season. In fact, the last dud of a tight end against the Panthers was all the way back in Week 5, when Hayden Hurst pulled one of his disappearing acts (2-8 on six targets). Since then, it’s been Kmet/Graham (7-54-1), Jared Cook (3-32-1), Hurst (5-54), Kelce (10-159), Gronk/Brate (5-82-2), Hock (4-68), and Rudolph (7-68) doing plenty of damage. I think Fant is a really safe mid-range TE1 option for championship week.
9 Robert Tonyan @ DET
Bob Tonyan has a rough matchup against the Lions, who have allowed the fewest receptions (38) and the 2nd fewest yardage (381) to enemy tight ends on the season. You’re hoping for a score, though, as the Lions haven’t been as great in that regard. Detroit has allowed the 11th most scores thus far, with six allowed to tight ends. That’s good news for Tonyan, who is wed to Aaron Rodgers. Tonyan has scored in three straight games, and has seen exactly five targets in each of those. You can probably do better than his middling volume and rough matchup this week, but you can’t ignore the scoring prowess completely. I’ll admit to thinking his ECR of TE4 at FantasyPros is a bit of a head-scratcher, though.
10 Rob Gronkowski vs. MIN
Sure, he’s battling a lot of other mouths to feed in Tampa, but he’s still a threat to explode at any moment, as evidenced by Week 12’s barrage (6-106). He also hasn’t scored a touchdown since Week 10, which to me just means he’s due. The Vikings are bottom 10 of the league in yardage allowed to tight ends, so it’s possible the Gronk-monster breaks off some chunk gains this week.
11 Dallas Goedert @ NO
He’s splitting time with Ertz, but Goedert appears to be the top option still. Jalen Hurts is in at quarterback, and the Saints are not a great matchup...but I’m trusting the role that Goedert now has in this Philly offense.
12 Jonnu Smith @ JAX
He missed last week and Anthony Firkser filled in admirably (5-51 on 7 targets). Anyway, these two guys have been splitting time recently. It’s tough to trust either as more than a back-end TE1. However, despite being injured a bit this year and despite the continued emergence of Firkser, Smith still has seven touchdowns—tied for the third-most in the NFL among tight ends. Only Kelce and Tonyan have more, and they each have eight. The Jaguars have allowed nine scores to enemy tight ends, tied for the 2nd most in the league (only the Jets are worse, at 11 allowed). It’s a prime matchup for both Tennessee tight ends.
13 Evan Engram vs. ARI
You know the drill. He sees lots of targets, but he’s really inefficient with them. He’s been torpedoing my teams all year. Daniel Jones returning should be a boost, though. I am not excited.
14 Dalton Schultz @ CIN
A great matchup and decent target floor. Schultz is a high-end streamer despite the scoring woes of the Dallas offense.
15 Jordan Reed vs. WAS
The revenge game narrative applies, plus Reed has averaged over five targets per game over the last three weeks (6, 6, and 4). That may not sound like much, but it is at this position.
16 Cole Kmet vs. HOU
He saw 77% of snaps last week, as it appears the Bears want to see what they have in the rookie tight end. Now is the time to buy in your dynasty formats, and maybe in redraft, too. Kmet has matchups he can take advantage of in the fantasy playoffs, with the Jaguars in Week 16 looking especially tasty. Better stash him now, gamers.
17 Logan Thomas @ SF
He had a big week last week against a stout Pittsburgh defense, catching all nine of his targets for 98 yards and a score. Even though the Niners aren’t an offense we like to attack, you could do worse than a guy coming off of a heater like that.
18 Hayden Hurst @ LAC
Maybe I’m just sore. But Hurst is KILLING me softly. He managed one catch and nine scoreless yards against the Saints last week. It was brutal.
19 Anthony Firkser @ JAC
See Smith, Jonnu. It’s a plus matchup, and Firkser is still involved even when Smith is healthy.
20 Zach Ertz vs. NO
I think the baton has been passed to Dallas Goedert in this offense. He only played 27 snaps in his return last week, but I’d wager he’s well over the 50% mark this week.
If you’ve made it this far, I commend you. After the top 20, I’d be spending my time mining the injury news and scoping out game totals. If Kyle Rudolph is ruled out, I’d be into Irv Smith Jr. in what looks like his first game back from groin and back injuries. Jacob Hollister against the Jets looks appealing, too—he seems like the receiving option in Seattle now that Olsen is shelved, and the Jets have allowed the most scores to tight ends on the season, as mentioned earlier. If you’re really desperate, you can take a shot on Drew Sample, whose season was a bit revived sans Joe Burrow last week (7-49 on seven targets). The Cowboys aren’t the greatest tight end matchup based on volume, but they have allowed six scores. It’s something.
Good luck in the playoffs, ladies and gentlemen. I can’t believe it’s already here! Who is the worst tight end you’re starting this week?