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Tight End Player Rankings – Week 16
Tight Ends (Updated: Friday, Dec. 21 - 5:42PM CT)
1. Tony Gonzalez (at Det, Saturday night) – Tony Gonzalez did it again for his fantasy owners last Sunday grabbing his eighth touchdown of the season while putting up yet another week of top-tier fantasy points. There’s no doubt Gonzo is an ageless wonder who could likely play at a high level for five more years, but it’s very possible this will be the second to last time we get to watch the greatest tight end in NFL history play in a regular season game. I’m sure Matt Ryan knows this as well, so don’t think for one second he won’t be trying to get him the ball as much as the game plan allows over the next two weeks. Combine a healthy amount of targets and a Lions defense that allows the seventh most fantasy points per game to tight ends, and you’re looking at a surefire TE1 this championship weekend.
2. Aaron Hernandez (at Jax) – There’s a slight possibility the Patriots will get Rob Gronkowski back this weekend, but if they don’t (and I highly doubt they will), then Aaron Hernandez will see another full load of targets from Tom Brady on Sunday. Hernandez has seen double-digit targets in each of the last three games despite each of those teams being amongst the best at defending his position. Basically, with the amount New England uses the tight end, it really doesn’t matter who they face. That being said, Jacksonville happens to have allowed the second most fantasy points to tight ends over the last five weeks, so chalk up another humdinger for Aaron in this one.
3. Jimmy Graham (at Dal) – I’m having a tough time understanding what the problem is with Jimmy Graham this season. He hasn’t been bad by any means, but he hasn’t been nearly as dominant as he was last season either. It’s not a lack of targets, seeing how he’s one of three in the league with more than 100 so far this year (plus he missed a game), and I doubt his wrist injury is really that disruptive. It could be predictability within the offense, as it seems he keeps running the same patterns over and over again. Anyway, his opponent this Sunday (the Dallas Cowboys) has allowed the fourth most fantasy points to tight ends during the last five weeks, so it would shock me to see Graham land outside the top five this weekend.
4. Jason Witten (vs. NO) – As I thought he might, Jason Witten finally caught his second touchdown of the season last week in an overtime win against the Steelers. The 43 yards he went for were the fewest he’s put up since way back in Week 3, but the touchdown definitely made up for it. His 97 catches still lead all tight ends on the season and if he can grab just six more over the next two weeks, he’ll break Tony Gonzalez’s record of 102 set back in 2004. With the New Orleans Saints allowing the fourth most receptions to tight ends this season, I’m betting Witten does it this weekend en route to another top-tier fantasy performance.
5. Heath Miller (vs. Cin) – When Ben Roethlisberger stated early in the year that he wanted to get Heath Miller into the Pro Bowl game this season, he wasn’t kidding. Not only is Miller tied for the second most touchdown catches for tight ends in 2012, but he also has the fourth most yards, fifth most receptions and most importantly—the fourth most fantasy points. He’s been the second best tight end over the last three weeks (behind Aaron Hernandez) and with the way Big Ben is targeting him, I doubt his string of top-notch games ends here. Earlier this season, Heath put up 53 yards and a touchdown on six catches against these Bengals, numbers he could easily hit again this Sunday.
6. Greg Olsen (vs. Oak) – There was a general consensus throughout the world of fantasy that Greg Olsen would put up better numbers this season than he did in his first for Carolina, but I personally didn’t expect him to be fifth in the league in fantasy points after 15 weeks. His talent was undeniable as a first-round pick back in 2007, and now it seems his skills are finally coming to the forefront within this Carolina Panthers offense. He’s certainly been an up and down starter this fantasy season, putting up just as many duds as week-winners, but it looks like he has a good chance of being a worthwhile play here in Week 16. Olsen has been on a bit of a roll here lately putting up three double-digit fantasy performances and grabbing four touchdowns in his last six games, so with the Oakland Raiders allowing the sixth most fantasy points to tight ends this season; you might want to think about getting Greg in your lineup.
7. Dennis Pitta (vs. NYG) – Like I said last week, nothing could have been better for those who own Dennis Pitta than Baltimore’s firing of offensive coordinator, Cam Cameron. Under the Ravens’ new regime last weekend, Pitta went off for a career-best 125 yards and two touchdowns on seven catches, though he was playing against the league’s worst team at defending tight ends, the Denver Broncos. This week will be a little tougher for the former fourth-rounder out of BYU as he’ll take on a Giants defense that’s only allowed three touchdowns to tight ends this season (fourth fewest in the league). However, they’ve also allowed the fourth most receptions and seventh most yards, so Pitta should at least be a strong play in PPR leagues. Either way, Dennis should have himself a nice game in Week 16.
8. Owen Daniels (vs. Min) – Owen Daniels has been going through a bit of a mid-life crises of late. In the five games he’s played in since turning 30 back on November 9th, he’s turned in one “decent” performance when he had 20 yards and a touchdown for a total of eight fantasy points back in Week 12. In the other four games, Daniels has averaged just 4.1 fantasy points, which is only good enough to just barely crack the top-25 tight ends during that time period. The Minnesota Vikings have allowed a decent amount of fantasy points to the tight end position this season, including an average of a touchdown in every other game, so Owen could be a nice risk to take this weekend. However, the yet word in that last sentence is “risk”, as he’s hardly been consistent during the second half of the season.
9. Brent Celek (vs. Was) – You probably think I’ve gone off the deep end for listing Brent Celek as a top ten candidate this week, but I have my reasons. Current mental issues aside, if you don’t have one of the top tight ends in the league to choose from at this point, then you’re obviously taking a chance on whoever you end up starting this week anyway because NOBODY down in this range has been consistent enough to call a sure thing. Obviously Celek has been a major disappointment to those who drafted him, but he’s still in the top-12 in targets, receptions and yards this season, so he hasn’t been a complete dud. One of the things he has going for him this week is that in his last three games against the Redskins, Brent has averaged five catches for 57 yards while catching a touchdown in two of them, so he at least knows what to do against them. Another plus for Celek is that Washington has allowed tight ends to put up the most yards and receptions against them this season, along with the second most fantasy points as well. My final rationale is that Brent happens to be a much better fantasy player at home, so if you’re an owner who has been down on Celek the entire season yet have no one else you can trust, this might be the week he pulls through for you.
10. Jermichael Finley (vs. Ten) – I had a real tough time figuring out which tight end deserved the final spot in my top ten this week, but I’m happy with my final decision to give it to Jermichael Finley and I’ll tell you why. When you get to this point in the tight end rankings, there aren’t a lot of guys that look to have a chance at busting out with some top tier numbers. Whether their quarterback sucks or they’re playing a great defense or they have a bad history against their opponent, there are always more than enough reasons to be scared of starting a guy—especially during your championship game. Finley, though mostly a disaster this year, has actually been pretty decent lately putting up over 50 yards in four of his last five games. However, that’s only a minor reason as to why I have him ranked in this spot. The biggest reason is this: When looking at all the tight ends I had to choose from here, only one of them was on a high-scoring team with a dominant quarterback going up against an opponent with a bottom-five defense that allows a ton of fantasy points to the tight end position. Once I was able to put all of this together, Jermichael Finley was an easy call.
Tight Ends 11-32
11. Kyle Rudolph (at Hou)
12. Dallas Clark (vs. StL)
13. Tony Scheffler (vs. Atl, Saturday night)
14. Antonio Gates (at NYJ)
15. Brandon Myers (at Car)
16. Jermaine Gresham (at Pit)
17. Ben Watson (at Den)
18. Martellus Bennett (at Bal)
19. Scott Chandler (at Mia)
20. Lance Kendricks (at TB)
21. Anthony Fasano (vs. Buf)
22. Marcedes Lewis (vs. NE)
23. Jeff Cumberland (vs. SD)
24. Vernon Davis (at Sea, Sunday night)
25. Dwayne Allen (at KC)
26. Jacob Tamme (vs. Cle)
27. Joel Dreessen (vs. Cle)
28. Coby Fleener (at KC)
29. Rob Housler (vs. Chi)
30. Logan Paulsen (at Phi)
31. Garrett Graham (vs. Min)
32. Craig Stevens (at GB)
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