Fantasy Football Tight End Streaming: Week 17 Edition
Last week was basically a microcosm of the tight end position for 2014.
Luke Willson was the top tight end for the week. Jermaine Gresham, Zach Ertz, and Jeff Cumberland were all top-12 options. Despite both players scoring a touchdown, Rob Gronkowski and Jimmy Graham only finished as the eighth- and ninth-best tight ends on the week, respectively.
It was even more evidence to support the fact that tight end is a highly unpredictable and volatile position for fantasy football purposes. Aside from Gronkowski, no tight end has been all that consistent this year, giving even more credence to the late-round approach for the position during drafts. It’s certainly something to keep in mind as we move through the spring and summer and towards our 2015 fantasy drafts because it’s never too early, right?
For those out there in leagues that play Week 17, listed below are the top streaming options for the week. These could also be viewed as decent tournament plays for daily fantasy purposes as well.
Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins
Owned - ESPN: 12.3%, Yahoo: 47% Week 17 numberFire Rank: 19th
This play combines recent target volume with one of the best opposing matchups possible.
In the last two games since fully returning from injury, Charles Clay has seen 17 combined targets while playing over 80 percent of Miami’s offensive snaps during that span. Clay finally broke the 100-yard receiving mark for the first time all season last week while catching six passes for the second consecutive game.
The Jets have been absolutely dreadful at stopping the tight end position, allowing over 10 fantasy points per game to the position, fourth-worst in the league, and have given up 13 touchdowns to tight ends on the season.
Miami’s team total sits at 26.5 points according to Vegas projections, meaning that touchdowns should be scored by the Dolphins, with a good chance of Clay’s sneaking behind the Jets’ leaky linebacker corps.
Mychal Rivera, Oakland Raiders
Owned - ESPN: 14.5%, Yahoo: 27% Week 17 numberFire Rank: 18th
I recommended Mychal Rivera last week in this column despite the extremely tough matchup against Buffalo.
Consider it a lesson learned -- don't target tight ends against the Bills.
The Bills held Rivera to just one catch for four yards on just five targets. The lack of volume was shocking, considering the amount of targets he had accumulated over the past two months. But this week, the Raiders go up against Denver, a team much more generous when it comes to allowing fantasy points to tight ends.
Despite ranking in the top 10 in pass defense according to our metrics, Denver ranks 26th against opposing tight ends, allowing 9.65 points per game. And considering the Broncos have been equally stingy against the run -- ranking eighth -- it seems logical for the Raiders to use Rivera.
Denver is favored by two touchdowns, meaning Oakland will most likely have to throw a lot. If the target volume returns, Rivera should have a fine day.
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles
Owned - ESPN: 34.8%, Yahoo: 61% Week 17 numberFire Rank: 20th
So all it took for Zach Ertz to get a ridiculous 18 targets was for me to recommend his teammate, Brent Celek, in my column last week. If only I had known about this about 15 weeks ago. Oh well.
It’s probably illogical to assume that Ertz will even see double-digit targets this week, but his usage rate was certainly a promising sign that even though it didn’t happen until the middle of December, the switch may have finally flipped on for the second-year pro.
Ertz saw a season-high 78 percent of the Eagles’ offensive snaps last week and looks to benefit from a Giants’ defense that has been shredded by opposing tight ends this season -- 8.7 points per game.
For what it’s worth, the Giants gave up two touchdowns to tight ends last time these two teams met back in October, one of them going to Ertz. Hoping for a repeat performance isn’t crazy in you’re throwing a dart.