Tight end has been one of the most frustrating positions to try and fill week in and week out, and with three of the top six options banged up and others on bye the options are even slimmer. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t high upside alternatives, however, and ones who have the potential to help bridge the gap (and more). Who is worth starting this week? Who should be ignored? Let’s take a look:
- George Kittle – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Green Bay
- Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles – vs. Seattle
- Mark Andrews – Baltimore Ravens – at Los Angeles Rams
- Austin Hooper – Atlanta Falcons – vs. Tampa Bay
- Darren Waller – Oakland Raiders – at New York Jets
- Evan Engram – New York Giants – at Chicago
- Ryan Griffin – New York Jets – vs. Oakland
- Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers – at New Orleans
- Jacob Hollister – Seattle Seahawks – at Philadelphia
- Vance McDonald – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Cincinnati
- Gerald Everett – Los Angeles Rams – vs. Baltimore
- Jared Cook – New Orleans Saints – vs. Carolina
- Eric Ebron – Indianapolis Colts – at Houston
- Jason Witten – Dallas Cowboys – at New England
- Darren Fells – Houston Texans – vs. Indianapolis
- Jack Doyle – Indianapolis Colts – at Houston
- Noah Fant – Denver Broncos – at Buffalo
- Jonnu Smith – Tennessee Titans – vs. Jacksonville
- Jimmy Graham – Green Bay Packers – at San Francisco
- Mike Gesicki – Miami Dolphins – at Cleveland
- While there are injury concerns surrounding George Kittle, Evan Engram and Austin Hooper, the early talk this week is that all three could return this week. For now we’ll include them all on the rankings, but make sure to monitor the news because none of them are guarantees to dress. However if they are out there they will all be top options, as they all have relatively strong matchups. For Kittle in particular, if he’s forced to miss this week’s game Ross Dwelley would step in as a viable TE1 (though more in the #8-10 range).
- Zach Ertz has had his struggles at times this season, but he has continued to get opportunities. Over the past four weeks he’s been among the most targeted tight ends (32 targets) and he’s found his footing over the past two weeks (18 catches for 197 yards and 1 TD on 22 targets). While the Seahawks have been better against opposing tight ends in recent weeks, there’s still reason to really like him (especially given the injuries that others are battling).
- While there was a dud mixed in there, we’ve seen more good than bad from Ryan Griffin over the past four weeks. Over this stretch he’s had three games with 50+ yards, including 109 yards against the Redskins in Week 11, and has scored 3 TD. With Sam Darnold finding his footing and the Raiders having allowed the fifth most points per week to opposing tight ends, Griffin looks like a solid option and a viable plug in for those who lack one of the elite.
- The last time we saw Jacob Hollister he turned 10 targets into 8 receptions, 62 yards and 1 TD against the 49ers and he’s scored 3 TD over his past two games. The Eagles may not represent an ideal matchup and there’s no guarantee he’s going to get a similar workload, so that’s going to limit his upside. Then again how many truly dependable options are there at this point?
- Don’t trust rookie tight ends… That’s the mantra, but Noah Fant has actually developed into a dart throw TE1 option as he’s been targeted 24 times over the past three games. Sure he’s been relatively inefficient with those opportunities (9 receptions), but with Emmanuel Sanders no longer in the mix the chances should continue to be there. Of course the Bills have allowed the fewest points per week against opposing tight ends, so he’s going to be more TE2 than TE1, but he at least needs to be on radars.
Sources – ESPN, Fangraphs
Make sure to check out all of our Week 12 rankings: