Jimmy Graham had the biggest week for tight ends last week with four receptions for 69 yards with two touchdowns. While he was the favorite red-zone target, he was only the fourth favorite target overall for Mitchell Trubisky which makes him a risky pick for week 17. Another NFC North tight end who had a stellar game was Irv Smith who had six receptions for 53 yards with two touchdowns. Smith could be a great waiver wire pick up as he is facing a Lions’ defense who he had two touchdowns against earlier in the season. Travis Kelce made history with his 100th receptions last week and if he can maintain his receiving yards lead, he will be the first tight end to lead the category. It now has been four straight games with a touchdown for him while he continues to put up 60+ yards each game. As we move into the final week of the NFL regular season, here are a few tight ends you may want to look out for in terms of who to start and who to avoid.
Opponent: Cleveland Browns
Eric Ebron came back from his injury suffered in week 15 and had an excellent week 16 performance. He hauled in five of his seven targets for 47 yards with a touchdown. It turned out that his injury was not seriously impairing and he received a hefty collection of targets regardless of his previous injury. With a matchup against the Browns up next, Ebron is poised to have another great game as the Browns have allowed the third-most fantasy points to tight ends this season. They have allowed 10 touchdowns this season which leaves Ebron with great odds to get another touchdown this week to make it two straight weeks with a touchdown.
Opponent: Atlanta Falcons
After having a bit of a downward trend coming out of the Buccaneers’ bye week, Rob Gronkowski is back on track with a two-touchdown game last week against the Lions. He only had two receptions on the day but when they combine to get you 58 yards and two touchdowns, it is not a bad outing. The inconsistency of targets is the only concerning factor for Gronk but when he gets the ball, he creates mayhem. He has a great matchup against the Falcons coming up who have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points per game to tight ends this season. As the Bucs have most of their weapons through the air and the Falcons being bad at covering the pass, one can expect a lot of passing plays this week with a solid amount going to Gronk, at least enough to give him good fantasy value.
Robert Tonyan, Green Bay Packers
Opponent: Chicago Bears
After a down week last week against the Titans, Robert Tonyan should be geared and ready for another big game this week. Last week ended a five touchdown streak that he had going as he had just one reception for 17 yards. As Davante Adams continues to have a monumental season, all the other receivers have had fairly low target shares, but Tonyan’s red-zone work makes up for it. This week, he has a great matchup against the Bears who have allowed 10 touchdowns to tight ends on the season. Ten touchdowns in 16 games make for some good odds of him finding the endzone yet again as it has been his speciality all season long. He is just one short of Travis Kelce to tie for the most touchdowns for tight ends in the league so there is something to play for this week for Tonyan.
Opponent: Pittsburgh Steelers
A big 15-target game last week for Austin Hooper is what you want to be seeing out of your tight ends, but remember that the Browns were playing the Jets so that is to be expected when the Jets give up the most points to tight ends in the league. Hooper now faces the other end of the spectrum with the Steelers who have allowed the second-least fantasy points to tight ends in the league. All season long, Hooper has had very few games where he put up enough yards to make the weeks he did not score a touchdown look good. With a strong opponent and his reliance on touchdowns to put up solid fantasy points, this week is not the week for Hooper. The Steelers have allowed just two touchdowns to tight ends all season long.
Opponent: Arizona Cardinals
If you want to talk about a touchdown-reliant tight end, Tyler Higbee is high on the list. Even as the Rams’ top tight end, he has only surpassed 50 yards four times all season long. His big three-touchdown games back in week 2 continues to stand as by far his best game as he has only managed to score two other touchdowns since then. Outside of week 2, he has never caught more than four passes which makes it difficult to put up significant numbers. A tough matchup against the Cardinals will not provide any boost to his numbers either. The Cardinals have allowed just three touchdowns all season long to tight ends along with just 49.5 yards per game. With all the receiving options for Goff to throw to, Higbee will not be making a strong fantasy contribution this week.
Opponent: Green Bay Packers
After a big game, Jimmy Graham is on a high note as he found the endzone twice against the Jaguars. Can he continue his fantasy prowess against the Packers… probably not. In the past six games, Graham has had at most five targets in a single game which, when you account for incompleted passes, does not leave Graham with much to create any significant fantasy value aside from scoring touchdowns. This has been the case for Graham all season long. Only the weeks in which he scores does he create any fantasy value. When he does not see the endzone, the typical game for Graham has been three to five receptions for 30-40 yards which is not anything great. The Packers have not allowed much to tight ends this season, averaging 44.4 yards per game with just five touchdowns allowed all season long.
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