The Fantasy Football playoffs are finally here! Some of you made it, some of you didn’t, and some of you were lucky enough to attain that all-important Week 14 bye. For those of you in play this week, it’s time to set your lineup so you can survive and advance to the league semis in Week 15, and the championship in Week 16.
While Dennis Pitta and Dwayne Allen will surely be flying off the shelves following their season-best Week 13 performances, there are other tight end options that will likely do more for you over the next three playoff weeks.
These aren’t the best of the best — Travis Kelce, Greg Olsen, and Jimmy Graham are. These are the best of the rest and could be the difference between a win and a payout, or a loss and the agony of defeat following four-plus months of starts, sits, adds and drops. These tight ends have quality matchups in at least two of the three playoff weeks, making them solid plays as the season comes to a close. (Note: Defense rankings are compiled from stats Weeks 1-13.)
Texans Tight End Could Be Top Playoff Play
C.J. Fiedorowicz had his best game of the season when he last faced the Colts in Week 6, racking up six catches for 85 yards and a touchdown. And look who the Texans face in the opening week of the Fantasy playoffs — those same Colts, a defense that has given up the seventh-most points to opposing tight ends this season.
Fiedorowicz continues to be Brock Osweiler’s go-to guy in his dink and dunk offense, as proven by the tight end’s team-leading six receptions and nine targets last week against the Packers. Add that to the Texans’ great matchup in Week 16, when they take on a Bengals team that gives up the third-most points to tight ends, and you’ve got a must-start situation on your hands.
Despite a tough Week 15 matchup against a Jacksonville defense that gave up just three catches and 26 yards to Fiedorowicz the last time they played, the Texans tight end will be a Top 5 TE1 against the Colts in Week 14 and Bengals in Week 16. Make sure you lock Fiedorowicz into your lineup, as he could be a real difference maker down the stretch.
Ertz Has Become a Tight End Target Monster
Zach Ertz has suddenly become an every-week TE1. Just a few short weeks ago Ertz was being add-dropped by a different manager each and every week. And then Carson Wentz lost one favorite target to injury, and then another, and Ertz’s arrow just kept going up, up, up.
In Week 13, Wentz threw a season-high 60 passes, and a whopping 25 percent were headed in Ertz’s direction — 15 targets, 9 receptions for 79 yards and a touchdown. Yes, a good amount of this production came in garbage time, but the big tight end has at least six targets in each of the past five weeks.
And he faces division foes in the Redskins and the Giants in Weeks 14 and 16, respectively — two teams among the Top 10 in Fantasy points to tight ends. Ertz already put up a big game when the Eagles faced the Giants earlier this season, snagging all of his eight targets for 97 yards. You’ll have to temper your expectations in Week 15, when the Eagles face off against a Ravens defense that gives up the fifth -fewest Fantasy points to tight ends and hasn’t given up more than 68 yards to a player at that position this season.
As long as the targets keep coming, Ertz needs to be in your lineup as you can expect consistent production from Wentz’s new favorite target.
Brate Should Be Great
Lots of people now know who Cameron Brate since he caught a game-winning touchdown in a win over the Chargers in Week 13. The Tampa Bay tight end has been under the radar much of the season, but as the Bucs have won four straight, Brate has been very involved in the offense.
Obviously, he’s behind wide receiver Mike Evans, but Brate is clearly No. 2 in the pecking order. He also led the Buccaneers in targets (9), receptions (6), and yards (86) this past week. Following that performance, the NFL schedule makers have blessed Brate owners with not one, but two matchups against the Saints in Weeks 14 and 16. And in between that, he gets to face the Cowboys, who give up the sixth-most points to opposing tight ends.
A double dose of the Saints defense and a matchup with Dallas makes Brate a great low-end TE1 throughout the Fantasy playoffs.
Injury to TE Teammate a Plus For Fleener
On the other side of the Saints-Bucs coin, we have Coby Fleener, a tight end who just became a bit more Fantasy relevant.
With fellow tight end Josh Hill suffering a broken leg last week, Fleener should be the clear beneficiary of his teammate’s injury with increased playing time and thus, increased targets. The two had been splitting snaps since Hill returned from injury in Week 6, but the door is now open for Fleener to flourish as the Saints close out their 2016 campaign.
The Bucs defense has given up at least four receptions to tight ends in each of its past six contests, along with three touchdowns. I like the probability of Fleener at least matching that, with a touchdown as a possible cherry on top. Consider benching the Saints tight end against a stout Arizona defense in Week 15, but expect at least four grabs and a touchdown in Week 14 or 16, making him a startable tight end in both matchups with Tampa Bay.
Try for Tye as Streaming Option
I know Will Tye hasn’t done much this season. His best game came in Week 10 when had put up five catches for 53 yards against the Bengals — both season highs for the Stony Brook product.
But the matchups he has in Weeks 14 and 15 are exactly what any Fantasy owner would ask for. The Giants’ tight end faces two defenses, in the Cowboys and Lions, that give up the most (Detroit) and sixth-most (Dallas) points to opposing tight ends.
Yes, Eli Manning will continue to feed Odell Beckham Jr. and his other wide receivers, but Tye is worth streaming against the Cowboys in Week 14, and the Lions in Week 15. I’d go elsewhere in Week 16 versus the Eagles, but two out of three playoff weeks from a tight end owned in less than five percent of leagues isn’t half bad.
Be confident in using these tight ends in Weeks 14-16, and if all falls in the right direction they’ll help take you and your team to a Fantasy title.