Fantasy football rankings, Week 16: Tight end features breakout candidates

Dan Ciarrocchi of Pro Football Focus breaks down the top 25 options for Week 16 and highlights three breakout candidates.

Fantasy football championship week is here, and for the select few who are still alive and competing, congratulations. Now, the days leading up to Sunday will understandably be filled with anxiety and lineup tinkering, and that's especially the case when owners glance at the "TE" slot on their rosters.

The tight end position has caused its fair share of headaches across the board, but the silver lining is that owners who have made it this far are likely to have a reliable option. Unfortunately, there aren't so many of those to go around this week, but a few can be highlighted to that owners don't overlook a good opportunity when they see one. Let's take a glance, and with that, best of luck to those still hitting the "submit" button on their lineups.

WEEK 14 STUDS

Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers (vs. Atlanta Falcons):

Fantasy owners can now count of six of the last seven games that Vernon Davis has found the end zone, putting his totals at 12 for the season. He is on his way to eclipse his career highs in touchdowns and yardage in his eighth season in the pros, and that could happen as soon as Sunday versus a pathetic Atlanta Falcons defense.

The Falcons have practically gift wrapped fantasy points to tight ends and wide receivers this season, and for a team that has allowed 28 touchdowns through the air and an average of 8.1 yards per attempt, it's not difficult to see why. As a result, Davis remains a high-floor-high-ceiling play once again for championship week. Start him with confidence.

Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans (vs. Jacksonville Jaguars):

Since midseason, it's become a popular option to start whichever tight end is facing the Arizona Cardinals, which is why Delanie Walker made a lot of fantasy owners happy in Week 15. While it's true that the Cardinals are giving up Jimmy Graham-like numbers to the position this season, the Jacksonville Jaguars aren't that far behind. That's who Walker gets to face this week, and fantasy owners can leave him in the lineup. He is a prime candidate to pile onto the 84 catches, 938 yards and nine touchdowns that the Jaguars have allowed to opposing tight ends this season.

Walker seems to have put the lingering effects of his concussion behind him, as his bounce-back in Week 15 had him amass a season-high 11 targets, which he turned into eight catches for 53 yards and a touchdown. Expect a similar workload this week against the Titans' divisional foe.

Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys (vs. Washington Redskins):

It's easy to understand fantasy owners' frustration with Jason Witten this season after dropping off so steeply from his target-laden 2012 season. But that doesn't mean he has not provided value from week to week, and he could be saving his best for last. Only the San Diego Chargers are allowing more yards per pass attempt than the Washington Redskins this season.

Witten did not get much of a chance to capitalize on that during the teams' last meeting, in which the Redskins chewed up much of the clock, but there's reason to expect differently in Week 16. Witten has staked his claim on red-zone opportunities, catching four touchdowns over the last four games, and the Redskins have given up 10 to players at his position this season. It's a huge reason the Redskins are allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends, and the veteran Witten is more than capable of making them pay. He is firmly entrenched as a TE1 with top-five potential.

Let's take a look at the top 25 tight ends for Week 15:

Rank Player Team Opponent
1 Jimmy Graham NO CAR
2 Vernon Davis SF ATL
3 Julius Thomas DEN HOU
4 Jason Witten DAL WAS
5 Jordan Cameron* CLE NYJ
6 Delanie Walker TEN JAC
7 Greg Olsen CAR NO
8 Antonio Gates SD OAK
9 Charles Clay MIA NE
10 Tony Gonzalez ATL SF
11 Garrett Graham HOU DEN
12 Dennis Pitta BAL NE
13 Coby Fleener IND KC
14 Heath Miller PIT GB
15 Martellus Bennett CHI PHI
16 Tim Wright TAM STL
17 Logan Paulsen WAS DAL
18 Scott Chandler BUF MIA
19 Zach Miller SEA ARI
20 Andrew Quarless GB PIT
21 Jared Cook STL TAM
22 Marcedes Lewis JAC TEN
23 Brent Celek PHI CHI
24 Tyler Eifert CIN MIN
25 Zach Ertz PHI CHI

*if active

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Week 16 fantasy football waiver wire advice: QB | RB | WR | TE | D/ST

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