That was disappointing. Not that the Wild Card games were bad or anything, but they were not good if you wanted points from your tight end. The best games last week were less than 12 fantasy-points, and all the tight end touchdowns came from players who no one in their right mind would have been starting. Let’s hope things get better for the position in the Divisional Round of the playoffs! He is my look at the tight end position for this week:
The Elite TE
Rob Gronkowski, New England, $7,100 – Gronkowski is deservedly in a tier by himself. Gronkowski averaged 18.4 fantasy-points per game for the season; more impressively, from week three to 16, Gronkowski averaged 19.5 fantasy-points per game. He also scored at least 11.1 fantasy-points in each of those 13 contests. The downside with Gronkowski – aside from his price – is that Baltimore has been a little above average against tight ends. You also have to think that the Ravens will feature a defensive game plan aimed at limiting the damage that Gronkowski will do this week. Still, it is hard not to like Gronkowski. He has been unstoppable since week three, and will be well rested for this matchup. I expect Gronkowski to end up on a lot of teams this week, and I think that is a good decision; he is just the safest, best tight end available.
Used to be Elite TE
Julius Thomas, Denver, $5,300 – It is easy to forget now just how good Thomas was the first six weeks of the 2014 season. In his first six games this season, Thomas averaged 18.2 fantasy-points per game, scored nine touchdowns, and scored 38.4 fantasy points against Indianapolis – his opponent this week. Too bad that Thomas managed only 11.6 fantasy-points total from week 11 through week 17. Thomas was not healthy during that span, so there is hope for a bounce-back game from Thomas. Indianapolis struggled against tight ends this season, and I already mentioned Thomas’ monster game against the Colts in week one. If you cannot swing the $7,100 for Gronkowski, Thomas is a nice upside pick, if you can handle the risk.
Greg Olsen, Carolina, $5,100 – Perhaps putting Olsen in the “Used to be Elite” section is a little harsh, yet I think it is fitting in this case. Olsen has only managed 14.5 fantasy-points total in his last three games – one of which was against an Arizona defense that was horrible against opposing tight ends. While Seattle has only been average against tight ends this season, that ranking is a little deceiving; Seattle improved against tight ends as the season progressed. Seattle’s defense held Olsen to only 2.6 fantasy-points in their only meeting this season – and that was when the Seahawks defense was struggling. This does not look like the week you want to go with Olsen as your tight end.
Jason Witten, Dallas, $4,800 – Ladies and gentleman, I present to you one of the stars at the tight end position in the Wild Card round, Jason Witten and his 11.3 fantasy-points! Yes, that was a big game for a tight end last week. This week he faces Green Bay which has been slightly above average against tight ends. I like Witten more than Olsen this week, but think that Thomas has a lot more upside for only $500 more. Witten is a nice pick for 50/50 leagues; not such a good one in GPP leagues.
Coby Fleener, Indianapolis, $4,600 – Once again, Indianapolis draws a favorable matchup for their tight ends. Once again, it is tough to trust either Fleener or Dwayne Allen with both of them healthy. Need evidence? With both guys playing last week, Fleener had one reception for 18 yards against Cincinnati. Could Fleener have a monster game? Of course he could; it is just very tough to trust him given how little he did against the Bengals in the Wild Card round.
Owen Daniels, Baltimore, $3,600 – Add Daniels to the list of tight ends with a nice matchup this week. New England ranked 25th against opposing tight ends this season. Daniels was also one of the few tight ends to produce last week. Too bad Daniels has had more game with fewer than ten fantasy-points this season than over ten – ten versus six. Like Fleener, the matchup suggests Daniels is a good play, like Fleener, it is tough to trust Daniels. I would rather go with Daniels than Fleener; I think there is less upside for sure, but I also think there is less risk and I would get another $1,000 to spend elsewhere.
Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis, $3,500 – Yes, I like Allen more than Fleener. No, it is not just because Allen is much cheaper – though that helps. Allen was the better fantasy tight ends for Indianapolis last week. More importantly, he had a nice game the last time he played against Denver – 16.4 fantasy-points. Denver was the fourth worst team against tight ends this season, and Indianapolis will be throwing a lot.
Other TE who Cost over $3.000
Luke Wilson, Seattle, $3,400 – One monster game, that is the only reason Wilson costs what he does. Wilson had one game with over nine fantasy-points this season – it just happened to be a 31.9 fantasy-point game. Wilson also has had four games this season where he had no fantasy-points. I suppose Wilson could have a good game; no way am I taking that chance though.
Ed Dickson, Carolina, $3,100 – Yeah, nothing to see here, move along. I suppose you might luck into a touchdown with Dickson, but you are not going to use a tight ends who has four receptions total in his last four games with money on the line – or at least you shouldn’t.
The Other Starting TE
Andrew Quarless, Green Bay, $3,000 – It is too bad that Green Bay does not have anything remotely close to a reliable tight ends. Dallas was the worst team against tight ends in 2014. Qualress averaged five fantasy-points per game this season and his lone double-digit fantasy-point game came in week three. Move on, nothing to see here.
Long Shot TE with Potential
None of these guys are safe plays, far from it. But, if you only have $3,000 to spend for a tight end, these guys have some potential this week. No long explanations, just a quick scenario where the player could have a nice fantasy game.
Tim Wright, New England, $3,000 — Baltimore shuts Gronkowski down, New England goes with a lot of two tight end sets, and Gronkowski’s targets go to Wright.
Jacob Tamme, Denver, $3,000 – Julius Thomas is still not healthy – or gets hurt – and Denver ends up having to throw.
Virgil Green, Denver, $3,000 – Denver has good success running the ball, so Green plays a good deal – since he is their blocking tight end; Green has a game like he did against Oakland, three receptions for 46 yards and a touchdown.
Richard Rodgers, Green Bay, $3,000 – Rodgers was the best fantasy tight end for Green Bay their final three games, and Dallas is horrible against opposing tight ends.
Good Luck with your teams this week! You can catch me on Twitter @STCDub.