Welcome to the Wild Card round of the playoffs. This player pool is an interesting one especially at tight end. Jimmy Graham is done for the season, Rob Gronkowski has a bye, Julius Thomas has a bye, and has done nothing for over a month. That leaves us with one elite tight end this week and a lot of question marks. Let’s take a look at some of our options at tight end for the first week of the NFL playoffs:
The Elite Tight End
Greg Olsen, Carolina, $5,500 – There is little doubt that Olsen is the best option at tight end this week. He did, after all, finish the season with 84 receptions for 1008 yards and 6 touchdowns – good for an average of 14.4 fantasy-points per game. He also has a very nice matchup as Arizona was the 29th best defense against tight ends this season. The only knock on Olsen is his last two games during the regular season were not very good – 3.1 and 4.7 fantasy points. In short, Olsen is a bit of a risk, but pretty easily the best tight end option this week.
The Second Tier
My toughest decision was if this tier should have been three or four players. In the end I went with four. All four of these guys could have good games this week; all three are also bigger risks than Olsen is.
Coby Fleener, Indianapolis, $5,000 – I would rather spend the extra $500 for Olsen. Not that Fleener is bad or anything, he has had some very good game. The problem is he has also had some low scoring games. Those games tended to be when Dwayne Allen has played, and Allen is expected to play this week. Another knock on Fleener is Cincinnati’s defense against tight ends has improved as the season progressed. Perhaps Fleener pays off this week, but I like Olsen if I can afford him, and would go with a cheaper option if I needed to save money.
Jason Witten, Dallas, $4500 – Witten does not have the same potential for a monster game that Fleener does, he is also less likely to give you, say, five fantasy-points. Detroit has not been as good against tight ends as Cincinnati has been either. No, Witten is not an exciting pick, but I think he is the safe play in the second tier of tight ends.
Heath Miller, Pittsburgh, $3,900 – Hey look kids, it is the AFC version of Jason Witten! No really, it is, they have both averaged 10.3 fantasy-points per game this season. Miller has not been as consistent as Witten this season, plus he has a tougher matchup – Baltimore ranked 12th against opposing tight ends this season. Miller has similar upside to Witten, but also comes with more risk.
Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis, $3,800 – To include Allen in the second tier or not to include Allen in the second tier, that was the debate. The case can certainly be made against him considering his last game with double-digit fantasy-points came in week nine. Thing is, we know he is a good tight end, and given how little he has done in the second half of the season, he just might not garner as much attention from the Bengals defense as he should. He is a risk, but I think he has as much upside as any tight end this week.
The Other Starting Tight Ends
Jermaine Gresham, Cincinnati, $3,700 – Gresham has a bad back and was favoring his leg against Pittsburgh. The leg issue was supposed to only be a cramp though. If A. J. Green is a no go this week, Gresham would be in line for more targets too. Throw in a great matchup, and Gresham looks like a potentially very good play. All the stats suggest Gresham is a good play this week – as you might be able to tell, I am not sold though. No real reason, just a bad feeling about Gresham.
Owen Daniels, Baltimore, $3,300 – 30.1 fantasy-points, that is how many fantasy-points Daniels has had against Pittsburgh this season. 29.2 fantasy-points is what Daniels has totaled over his last four games. That four game total is why Daniels only costs $3,300 this week. He could have a nice game against Pittsburgh, but he is also a major risk.
John Carlson, Arizona, $3,000 – There is a chance that an Arizona tight ends has a good game this week. If one does, it will likely be because he caught a touchdown pass from the worst quarterback in the playoffs. Given his QB, and the fact that Carlson has one touchdown all season, it is best to avoid Carlson, and any of the Cardinals other tight ends.
Brandon Pettigrew, Eric Ebron, Detroit, $3,000 – Dallas finished the season as the worst defense against tight ends, too bad you cannot possible rely on any Detroit tight end when money is on the line. Need a reason? Week four. Ebron has one game of over ten fantasy points this season — Pettigrew none — week four was Ebron’s big game which was 12.4 fantasy-points. Not sure about you, but I tend to shy away from low reward/high risk picks in any contest.
So you only have $3,000 to Spend at TE and want a TD?
No analysis on these guys. If you absolutely only want to send $3,000 on a tight end, here are some guys I think have a chance to give you a touchdown this week:
Gavin Escobar, Dallas
Ed Dickson, Carolina
Matt Spaeth, Pittsburgh
Good luck in the playoffs! You can catch me on Twitter @STCDub.