In the have and have-not world of tight ends, it’s usually all about matchups for those who don’t have a guy like Jimmy Graham or Rob Gronkowski. Hey, even Graham can have a bad game like he did on Sunday.
Some offenses are starting to use their tight end more often while some of them tend to get the ball outside the numbers to their wideouts. That can also be based on the amount of blitzes the quarterback sees. The more blitzes, the more likely a tight end could get a look as a short-yardage guy. Here are five tight ends who are on the upswing in their offense or have a nice matchup this week.
Delanie Walker (owned in 21 percent of leagues)
What a night for Walker on Thursday. He caught all 10 of his targets for 91 yards and a score in the loss to the Indianapolis Colts. It was even more impressive considering that the Colts were the ninth-toughest matchup for tight ends entering the game. Walker was a popular option outside of the numbers and he runs a ton of routes as opposed to staying in on pass protection.
Even before the mini-breakout game, Walker was heating up with 62 yards in Week 10. What’s more, his best games have all come with Ryan Fitzpatrick at quarterback.
Clearly, that’s not a coincidence and Walker seems like he’s emerged as a low-end TE1. He gets a great matchup this week in sunny Oakland. There aren’t many better options than Walker this week.
Garrett Graham (owned in 25 percent of leagues)
Case "Big Play" Keenum? That doesn’t really have a nice ring to it, but that’s what he’s been doing so far this year. He continues to look down the field as opposed to the check-down guys, even under pressure.
Graham was the beneficiary of this with his 43-yard TD catch as his big play on the way to 136 yards on seven catches. He was targeted 13 times on Sunday and because Owen Daniels might miss more time, that production could continue.
This week, the Texans get the Jacksonville Jaguars. Jacksonville hasn’t been able to stop most teams and its offense is dreadful. Chances are the Texans aren’t going to want to take chances considering the constant big turnovers costing them games and putting them on an NFL-worst eight-game losing streak. Graham should be a popular low-risk target on Sunday and could catch at least six balls.
John Carlson (owned in 10 percent of leagues)
Kyle Rudolph is still going to be out for the rest of this month and a nice chunk of December with his broken foot. That means it’s going to be the Johnny Carlson show for much of the season.
Carlson has been effective in his last three games as the main tight end option. In those outings, he’s averaged 5.3 catches on 6.7 targets. More specifically, his last two weeks have been much better with 98 and 69 yards, respectively.
The Vikings really can’t get the ball down the field with Christian Ponder, so they’re going to continue using Carlson. He should have a decent game against the Packers for owners in deep leagues or two-TE formats.
Ladarius Green (owned in 0 percent of leagues)
The Chargers continue to get banged up at wide receiver with Keenan Allen also sustaining a knee injury on Sunday.
Green is a beast at 6’6 and 240 pounds, so he has the size to be a red-zone threat and short-yardage guy. Plus, he’s got some speed to stretch the field a la Julius Thomas. No, he will not have the same impact as Thomas in the fantasy world.
He only played 20 snaps on Sunday, so that’s not a good sign. If the Chargers are going to be without Allen, that snap count should go up. He’s a high-upside player and the Chargers will definitely need to scratch the one-TE package against the blitz-happy Chiefs.
Rob Housler (owned in 13 percent of leagues)
Another tight end who finally broke out on Sunday. Well, sort of. Housler had season highs in yardage with 70 and in targets with nine, catching six of them. This is his second consecutive productive game with a four-catch, one-score game against the Texans in Week 10.
This week, he’ll get a Colts team that was just carved up by Delanie Walker. There isn’t much upside here and he might be better suited in TD-heavy leagues.