Saturday, December 12, 2020

Week 14 Fantasy Football TE Start'em, Sit'em

The decision on which player to start, or sit, largely comes down to the options on your roster (and/or possibly the players available on your league's waiver wire).

As an example, Robert Tonyan is listed below as a "start" for Week 14. And I'd certainly be comfortable going into Week 14 with him as my starting tight end.

Then again, Tonyan may be a "sit" for your team.

In other words, if you own both Darren Waller and Tonyan, you should start Waller and, in turn, bench Tonyan.

For a more direct answer on whether we would start Player X over Player Y, check our Week 14 Fantasy Football Rankings. Instead of making those direct comparisons, the goal here is to highlight players that we like, or dislike, for the week.

Week 14 Fantasy Football TE Start'em

Robert Tonyan, Green Bay Packers (at DET)

As noted in last week's Start'em, Sit'em, Tonyan was one of three players (along with Travis Kelce and Mark Andrews) to have five top-five weekly performances heading into Week 13. With Darren Waller going off in his 200-yard, two-TD performance, there are now four players with at least five such games.

While Tonyan didn't finish as a top-five performer in Week 13, he did finish as the TE8 with four catches for 39 yards and a touchdown on five targets. It was the third consecutive game in which Tonyan scored.

Aaron Rodgers has thrown a league-high 36 touchdowns this season and Tonyan has the second most (eight) on the team behind Davante Adams (13). Tonyan's eight scores are tied with Kelce for the position high this season.

The Detroit Lions have been pretty good against tight ends this season, but Tonyan scored against them in his first matchup against them this season. In addition, no team has a higher implied total in Week 14 than the Packers.

Mike Gesicki, Miami Dolphins (vs. KC)

Scoring in back-to-back games, Gesicki set or tied a season high in catches (nine) and targets (11) as he finished with 88 yards and a touchdown against the Cincinnati Bengals. While the Bengals are a top-three matchup for opposing tight ends, the Dolphins could find themselves throwing more than they'd prefer as they try (or are forced) to keep up with Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs.

Gesicki now has at least five targets in four consecutive games and 35-plus yards in five straight games. During that five-game span, the third-year tight end ranks top 10 on a per-game basis in fantasy points (9.36, T-7th), receptions (4.0, T-10th), yards (49.6, 8th) and targets (6.0, T-9th).

Eric Ebron, Pittsburgh Steelers (at BUF)

Over the past two weeks, Ebron has set (and tied) his season high in targets (11) and receptions (seven). In addition, Ebron had his two highest receiving yardage totals (54 and 68, respectively) of the season in the past two weeks. At such a TD-dependent position, however, Ebron finished just outside the top 12 tight ends -- TE14 and TE13, respectively -- without scoring a touchdown.

Even so, it's fair to view that as a positive as he's established a safe floor even in games he doesn't score. The average TE12 in half-PPR formats has scored 9.12 fantasy points this season. Ebron scored 8.9 and 10.3 fantasy points in those two games. Meanwhile, the Buffalo Bills have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season.

Week 14 Fantasy Football TE Sit'em

Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles (vs. NO)

Out for more than a month, Ertz returned in Week 13 and finished with two catches for 31 yards on four targets against the Packers. Not surprisingly, Dallas Goedert (5/66/1 on seven targets) continued to lead the position group in production even with Ertz back.

Not only is the team transitioning from Carson Wentz to Jalen Hurts, a rookie making his first NFL start, the matchup is daunting for any quarterback. The New Orleans Saints rank fourth in the NFL in passing defense (212.8 YPG allowed).

Even though he was drafted as a top-five option this summer, it's wiser to take a wait-and-see approach with Ertz for at least one more week with a rookie making his first NFL start. We've seen with Ertz and Goedert previously and even Goedert and Richard Rodgers when Ertz was out that the offense can generally support two productive fantasy tight ends.

Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns (vs. BAL)

Hooper (neck) sat out Friday's practice, which puts his status for Monday into question, but he should be on your fantasy bench whether or not he plays. While Cleveland's passing offense got going in games with better weather recently, Hooper managed only 2/13/1 and 2/24 in the past two weeks, respectively.

The drop in target share is startling -- 7.41% and 6.45% in Weeks 12 and 13, respectively -- after 18% plus in six of his previous seven games. The only game he was targeted less this season was Week 1 vs. the Ravens (5.71%) when he finished with a 2/15 line.

Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints (at PHI)

Fantasy managers got virtually nothing from Cook in his previous four games, but the veteran tight end and Taysom Hill connected for a touchdown as Cook had his best game since Week 8. In the previous four games, Cook had a total of three catches for 36 yards on 11 targets and finished as the weekly TE36, TE47, TE46 and TE50, respectively. While it was good to see Cook have a respectable TE13 performance last week, stringing two of them together may be a tall order as Hill makes his fourth consecutive start.

Jimmy Graham, Chicago Bears (vs. HOU)

As the Bears transition from the 34-year-old Graham to Kmet, the second-round rookie from Notre Dame, Graham has a 3/32 performance surrounded by a pair of goose eggs over his past three games. In turn, Graham has played his three lowest snap percentages -- 58%, 35% and 49%, respectively -- while Kmet has played this three highest -- 70%, 79% and 78%, respectively -- over that three-game span.

Last week, Kmet had five catches for 37 yards and a touchdown on seven targets against the Lions. While the rookie may not be outright start, he's ranked higher in our rankings than Graham and has the potential to put together a late-season surge as he takes over as the team's TE1.

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