"Pain heals. Chicks dig scars. Glory lasts forever." - Shane Falco, quarterback, Washington Sentinels
Shane Falco, from the 2000 film The Replacements, was a stud college quarterback out of Ohio State whose career took a nose dive after a poor Sugar Bowl performance. Against all odds, however, Falco led his motley crew of replacement players to the playoffs, and he took home the prettiest cheerleader in the league in the process.
So Falco maniacs, do you happen to remember who made the game-winning catch? If you said tight end Brian Murphy, you've possibly seen The Replacements 12 to 116 times. Murphy, a replacement player who went undrafted in the NFL due to being deaf, became the most unlikely of heroes.
Why use this analogy? Because the conquering victor doesn't have to be a Jimmy, Gronk, or Orange Julius. Somewhere on the waiver wire is a "Brian Murphy," an unheralded tight end primed to deliver your squad to the playoffs.
You've fought through the pain. You've suffered the scars. Now it's time to get the glory, tight end streaming style.
Week 11 Recap
"You're not even a has-been! You're a never was!" - Eddie Martel, quarterback, Washington Sentinels
No, Jimmy Graham did not legally change his name to "Garrett" last week. Texans tight end Garrett Graham, however, gave us a reason to refer to Jimmy as "the other" Graham by posting 136 yards and a touchdown, the best fantasy day of all tight ends in Week 11.
Rounding out the top-four tight ends last week was quite the collection of never was-es: Delanie Walker, Charles Clay, and Danny Noble. In addition, seven of the top-12 and 18 of the top-24 Week 11 tight ends were possible streaming material. With the NFL's last bye week upon us, it's time to hit the tight end stream and find your "Replacements."
Week 12 Tight End "Streamplacements"
"I'm talking about a team of poor nobodies who play to win. Not a bunch of bitchy millionaires." - Edward O'Neil, owner, Washington Sentinels
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Whisky (owned in 12% of ESPN Leagues)
Johnny Walker Blue lit up Indianapolis for 91 yards and a touchdown on 10 receptions in Week 11. Last week was far from an aberration, as Walker has been a top-12 tight end in three of his last four games.
His .76 Reception Net Expected Points per Target lets us know that he has had a very positive impact on on the Titans' offensive output this year. In fact, Walker's NEP Per Target is slightly greater than that of Tony Gonzalez.
Why has Walker stepped it up of late? Well, that's a case of efficiency meets opportunity. And with Ryan Fitzpatrick running the show for Tennessee for good this season, opportunity continues to knock for Mr. Walker. In the four games in which Fitz has seen significant snaps, Walker has averaged 7.3 targets per game, as compared to the 4.2 targets per game he was getting with Jake Locker in charge. Walker took full advantage of his increased looks in Week 11, pulling in all 10 of his targets.
Walker faces off this week against Oakland, who made Garrett Graham look like Randy Moss last week. On the season, the Raiders have given up six tight end touchdowns in 10 games. They also yield a healthy 11.7 yards per tight end reception on the season. Look for Fitzpatrick to target Walker early and often this week.
Ladarius Green, San Diego Manti Te'os (owned in 0.1% of ESPN Leagues)
Through Week 10, it wasn't easy being Green. Ladarius had caught only seven passes for 148 yards in nine games playing behind Antonio Gates. At 6'6'' and 240 pounds of raw talent, Green is as big and fast as Jimmy Graham, so it was only a matter of time before Green got a chance to shine. Finally, in Week 11, the floodgates opened as the Chargers played Green and Gates together. Green went for 81 yards on four catches, and he kept his yards per catch over 20 on the season.
In a very limited role this season, Green has an Rec. NEP per Target of 1.17, better than the 1.02 mark achieved by top eligible tight end Julius Thomas. A fourth-round pick in 2012, Green could continue to see an expanded role in 2013 because the of the Chargers' lackluster receiving options. With Vincent Brown and Eddie Royal reeling, and rookie Keenan Allen hobbled with an injured knee, it's the perfect situation for Green to get his chances. We give him a better chance to score a touchdown this week than Jason Witten and his teammate Gates. With Ladarius in your lineup this week, other owners will be Green with envy.
For more on Green, check out this prophetic article by numberFire's Phil Alexander.
Mychal Rivera, Oakland McGloins (owned in 0.5% of ESPN Leagues)
Week 11 showed that Mychal Rivera can play the tight end position better than he can spell the name "Michael." A low-end option for most of the year, Rivera had his best game of the season on Sunday, recording 54 yards and his second touchdown of the season.
Rivera has averaged on 3.4 targets per game on the year, but that number was almost doubled on Sunday, as Rivera was targeted six times by new starting quarterback Matt McGloin. Rivera looked comfortable with McGloin, son of Gróin (yes, that's a nod to you, Lord of the Rings fans), at the helm and vice versa, as Rivera pulled in five of those six targets.
Although Rivera's numbers on the season leave something to be desired, Rivera has made a strong contribution to his offense with limited opportunity. Rivera's .63 Rec. NEP Per Target is just about on par with the .64 figure earned by Bears tight end Martellus Bennett. Rivera gets Tennessee this week, a below-average defense versus opposing tight ends on the season. Don't worry if you can't spell his first name and get this Mychal in your lineup.
Rob Housler, Arizona Iced Tea
Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Traded Prince Fielder