It’s here folks. Championship week! Well, it’s championship week for folks in normal leagues. If your league is weird with weird rules, fret not, as we have included the matchups for Week 18 as well. And we will do rankings for Week 18. But these rankings will focus on Week 17 because that’s what matter most right now. So without further ado, this is how we are ranking the tight ends for the biggest week in fantasy football!
Tier 1: The One True King
Tier 2: The Saviors
- TJ Hockenson - TJ Hockenson’s usage has been great since being acquired by Minnesota. Is snap share, route participation, target share etc. were all top of the league. That’s why he’s consistently been near the top of these rankings despite not knocking our socks off with his actual production. After this past week where he had 13 catches on 16 targets for 109 and two touchdowns, our socks are officially off. It’s not the best matchup vs. the Packers and De'Vondre Campbell but you can’t go away from him now.
- George Kittle - After Brock Purdy took over we had some concerns but Kittle has put those to rest as of late. He had two touchdowns in an easy matchup vs. Seattle. He had two touchdowns in a tough matchup with Washington. He has an easy matchup this week with Las Vegas. And, with Deebo Samuel expected to be out again, we feel good about starting Kittle. Here are some stats on that from our friend John Daigle that should make you feel a little better.
- Evan Engram - I feel like a proud father getting to rank Evan Engram in the top five after writing about him this offseason but he completely deserves it. Over the last four weeks he leads all tight ends in targets, receptions, yards, and fantasy points. He’s dialed in and he has a solid matchup vs. the Texans. Very few guys I would start over him, as you can see.
Tier 3: Feeling Pretty Good
- Dalton Schultz - Dalton Schultz hasn’t been putting the numbers up in the box score but there is a lot going on behind the scenes. That four game span we just talked about with Engram? Schultz is top five in routes run during that span. He’s also only blocked on eight pass plays. And just a couple weeks ago he did have 10 targets so we know he’s still capable of big games. There are few guys that are running those kinds of routes with a QB like his and a matchup like his so we just have to hope he’s involved. The backup tight ends have been a nuisance but guys like Peyton Hendershot only play a handful of snaps.
- Dallas Goedert - If Goedert had a better matchup and his starting QB were healthy he would be higher. It’s as simple as that. The Saints are the number one team vs. the tight end and they have multiple good players over the middle with Demario Davis and the Honey Badger. DeVonta Smith and AJ Brown are target magnets and Gardner Minshew just isn’t Jalen Hurts. Still not a bad option all things considered which speaks to how good of a player he is.
- Mark Andrews - Oh how the mighty have fallen and he might fall even farther if Lamar Jackson is ruled out again. He’s just not getting it done with all the defensive attention on him. The Steelers aren’t a terrible matchup and it’s an important game but he’s become difficult to trust.
- Pat Freiermuth - After three straight weeks with ~55% snap shares he finally bounced back to a respectable 81% snap share and caught seven of eight targets. We moved him back up so here’s hoping that he goes out and does it again. Hopefully you survived the zero he put up against the Panthers.
- Cole Kmet - Cole Kmet has had a monster snap share and route participation which makes sense considering how many wide receivers the Bears are missing. The last time he played this Lions team he had a 35% target share and scored two touchdowns. He’s in a great spot this week and I’m personally starting him in one of my fantasy championships.
Tier 4: Good Players, Tough Matchup
- David Njoku - George Kittle proved last week that Washington isn’t completely infallible but they have still given tight ends a tough time all year. On top of that, Deshaun Watson has not really shaken the rust off and Njoku only has five catches with him the last two weeks (granted, last week was against a tough TE defense in a wind storm). These guys are still in the TE1 range here so you might have to start them where you have them but it’s not a slam dunk.
- Darren Waller - Since returning Darren Waller has passed the eye test and he’s put up 9.8 and 13.8 PPR points which is enough to hang your hat on. What has us concerned here is twofold. One - the usage. He’s played 49% and 40% of the snaps the last two weeks. Not ideal. Two - the matchup. The 49ers are one of the toughest defenses across the board and top five vs. the tight end. You are basically banking on the talent here to win out.
- Dawson Knox - We know what we have in Dawson Knox. He can disappear at times in tough matchups but this matchup isn’t bad. He plays a lot of snaps, runs a decent number of routes, and he’s in a high powered offense. But he’s also not a super explosive player and he doesn’t run high aDot routes. You know you are going to get a couple catches so he has a decent floor but it really boils down to whether he can find the endzone or not. He has three games in a row now so it’s not a bad bet.
Tier 5: Risky Business
- Greg Dulcich - Now we are into the players that you don’t feel great about. But it’s tight end - there just aren’t enough studs. With Dulcich you are getting a converted wide receiver that typically plays more than half of his snaps at wide receiver. He gets the Chiefs who are middle of the pack vs. the tight end and his team will have to throw. And he’s at least been utilized in the red zone by his team. He gives you some shot at upside which a lot of guys don’t.
- Noah Fant - We’ve talked about how things need to change in a specific way for Noah Fant and they sort of did just that. He wasn’t a top two target on the team - well, now Tyler Lockett is hurt. He was splitting snaps with Will Dissly - well, now Will Dissly is on season ending IR. Colby Parkinson will play some but Fant is now in the drivers seat for fantasy production and he’s had a nose for the end zone as of late despite splitting snaps with touchdowns in three of his last four games.
- Tyler Conklin - Tyler Conklin in a vacuum isn’t that good. He’s not particularly athletic and he only has five missed tackles in five years of being in this league. He runs low(ish) aDot routes and there are better pass catchers on the team. But Mike White returns to boost the offense a bit and he has a great matchup with Seattle so here we are.
- Tyler Higbee - Higbee is incredibly difficult to trust because he spent four straight weeks blocking on a third of his pass plays leading into this week. But with Cooper Kupp, Allen Robinson, and Ben Skowronek all out, Baker Mayfield leaned heavily on him. He still only ran 24 routes on 30 drop backs but he’s got a decent matchup and there’s a chance they just lean on him again.
Tier 6: An Argument Can Be Made
- Cade Otton - Otton has virtually taken over the tight end job from Cameron Brate. He played 68 snaps to only 8 for Brate and he ran 43 routes. In fact, he’s fourth in routes run for tight ends over the last four weeks. The issues for Otton is that they have better pass catchers, the offense isn’t all that great, and the Panthers aren’t a good tight end matchup.
- Daniel Bellinger - Bellinger started off with two early targets but lost a fumble in this game which cooled him off. He scored a two-point conversion to make up for it but not the game we hoped for. What we like about Bellinger is that he’s playing monster snap shares. We just mentioned that Cade Otton is third in routes run over the last four week - Daniel Bellinger is second only behind TJ Hockenson. So that’s the idea really. He plays a ton, runs a lot of routes, and has a good matchup vs. the Colts so there is some upside possibility.
- Trey McBride - We liked him a lot better with Colt McCoy at QB but he’s still quietly had six, five, and four turrets the last couple games while playing 84-86% of the snaps the last two. Atlanta is one of the best matchups for tight ends so he’s a decent threat to make some nose.
Tier 7: Starting A Backup QB As Your Tight End
- Taysom Hill and Jeff Driskel - You know the floor, you know the ceiling - only you can make this decision for your own fantasy team. Driskel has already let you down by now and Taysom could at any moment as well.
Tier 8: Major Flaws
- Gerald Everett - We warned that this could happen. He’s moved way on the backburner with Austin Ekeler, Keenan Allen, and Mike Williams all healthy.
- Juwan Johnson - If it were a better matchup we would feel better about him but you are chasing touchdowns with this play against a tough Eagles defense.
- Logan Thomas - Too little, too late at this point but he’s a desperation play (or possibly DFS). We used to like him for his 100% snap share but he’s not playing 100% of the snaps anymore. Carson Wentz helps but it's too risky in your championship.
- Chig Okonkwo - He was hard to trust even before Malik Willis.
- Hunter Henry - Great matchup but this offense is a mess.
Tier 9: These Guys Are Virtually Unstartable
Follow Andrew Cooper on Twitter @CoopAFiasco to see the weekly rankings once they are available later this week!
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