FAVORABLE MATCHUPS (CASH/GPP)
Jared Cook (DK – $4,700/FD – $5,500): Cook has been up and down all season leading to two impact games (9/180 and 8/110/2), one steady game (4/74/1), and five boring showings (4/49, 5/31, 4/20, 2/10, and 2/20). Jared averages 6.25 targets per game while being on pace to set career highs in catches (76), yards (988), TDs (6), and targets (100). With Amari Cooper no longer on the roster, Cook will be a top two receiving option for Derek Carr going forward. The Chargers held him to a short game (4/20) in Week 5. LA ranks 15th in the NFL vs. the TE position (37/369/4 on 61 targets) with the 49ers (6/125/1) and the Browns (8/63/1) having the most success. A TE has scored a TD against the Chargers in four of their last five games. Oakland’s passing game appears to be dead in the water, but they will play better at home. I expect a nice showing this week plus LA has some talent at CB forcing Carr to look for his TE more often.
Trey Burton (DK – $3,900/FD – $6,100): Burton is the 7th highest scoring TE in PPR leagues after nine weeks despite only have one elite game (9/126/1). Trey has a TD in five of his last seven games while being on pace for 58 catches for 742 yards and ten TDs on 80 targets. The Lions are league average defending TEs (33/417/3) with no team scoring over 17.0 Fantasy points at the TE position. Chicago has the talent to have success running the ball in close, but a play action TE seems very likely in this game. Not a bad swing at this level due to his scoring ability and the Lions may at least push the issue on the scoreboard.
MATCHUP RISK / AGAINST THE GRAIN (GPP)
O.J. Howard (DK – $5,300/FD – $6,500): Howard doesn’t have an elite opportunity in targets (five per game) or snaps (59.8 percent in his eight games played), but his value has been rock solid in his last six games (18.6, 13.2, 16.2, 11.7, 16.8, and 21.3) in the season-long contests. His best outing of the year came last week (4/53/2) while scoring four TDs in his last four games. This season Tampa TEs have 48 catches for 635 yards and eight TDs on 65 targets. Washington sits 12th in the league vs. TEs (37/333/3 on 58 targets) with no TE scoring over 16.0 Fantasy points. Only a low-teen Fantasy option this week unless he hits on a long play.
BAD MATCHUP (AVOID)
C.J. Uzomah (DK – $3,700/FD – $5,400): Cinci expected to have Uzomah back in the starting lineup this week after having a bye week to recover from a chest issue. In his last game, C.J. didn’t have a catch vs. a porous Bucs’ defense. Over the last four games, he has ten catches for 110 yards and one TD on 15 targets. The Saints are 6th in NFL vs. TEs (30/338/1 on 48 targets) with seven teams scoring fewer than ten Fantasy points. Easy avoid in all formats.
NEUTRAL (ALL FORMATS)
Travis Kelce (DK – $7,000/FD – $8,000): Last week Kelce had his second impactful game (7/99/2) of the season while falling one yard short of the three-point bonus for 100 yards at DraftKings. Travis has five catches or more in eight straight games with three games with over 100 yards receiving (7/109/2, 8/114, and 5/100) and six TDs. He averages 8.8 targets per game. The Cardinals are 7th in the NFL defending TEs (28/332/2 on 39 targets) with no TE scoring over 16.0 Fantasy points. Most teams haven’t had to pass to beat the Cardinals plus the best TE they’ve faced in 2018 is George Kittle (5/83 and 5/57). I expect a TD and steady production, but the lack of a battle on the scoreboard should leave him short of delivering an impact score needed to fill his salary bucket.
Ron Gronkowski (DK – $5,600/FD – $6,900): Gronkowski has already hurt Fantasy owners in two games in 2018 by not playing. The Patriots have scored 25 TDs over their six-game winning streak, but Rob hasn’t scored a TD since Week 1 when he delivered his only impact game (7/123/1). His yards per catch (15.4) remain strong, but Gronk only averages 6.1 targets per game this season. He’s listed as questionable for this week’s game with back and ankle issues. The Titans have the second best TE defense (30/268/0 on 45 targets) in the league, but they did falter when matched up with the Eagles’ stud TEs (12/125 on 16 targets). Rob has a sliding salary, but a Fantasy owner won’t know his status until just before kickoff on Sunday.
Jimmy Graham (DK – $4,600/FD – $6,300): With eight games of work in 2018, a Fantasy owner can easily see that Graham isn’t the player that he once was. He’s on pace for 64 catches for 850 yards and four TDs on 108 targets, which is respectable while offering no impact game this year. His best game came in Week 6 (5/104). Miami fell to 22nd in TE defense (42/453/5 on 59 targets) after allowing five TDs to TEs over the last four games. The Dolphins allowed fewer than 60 yards receiving to TEs in seven of their last eight games with their biggest failure in catches (7) and yards (101) coming in Week 1 vs. the Titans. Possible TD, but he falls more in the steady category in Week 10. His ace in the hole is Aaron Rodgers playing at home and needing a win in the worst way.
Jordan Reed (DK – $4,400/FD – $5,200): Reed landed on the injury report this week with a back issue, but the Redskins expect him to play. Just like Rob Gronkowski, Jordan hasn’t scored a TD since Week 1. He has fewer than 45 yards receiving in five straight games while averaging 6.6 targets per game on the year. Last week the Redskins had him on the field for only 54 percent of their plays in a chaser game, which may be a bad sign. Tampa allowed the third-most Fantasy points to TEs (48/640/5 on 58 targets) with three teams having strong games (PHI – 15/151, PIT – 5/119/1, and ATL – 9/71/1). The Bucs gave up a TD to a TE in five of their last six games. Alex Smith will use his TE in this game to help control the ball. Right kind of matchup to play in the daily games with a favorable salary, but his 2018 resume won’t get you a lot of confidence when hitting the submit button. I suggest using both Washington TEs on two similar teams to help prevent a short outing by Reed.
Jack Doyle (DK – $4,300/FD – $5,600): In his first game back on the field for the Colts, Doyle caught six of his seven targets for 70 yards and a TD while being on the field for 73 percent of the plays run by Indy. In his first two games, the Colts had him on the field for over 95 percent of their plays. This season the Colts’ TEs have 62 catches for 711 yards and 12 TDs on 98 targets, which is one of the best TE situations in the league. The Jaguars are 8th in the league against TEs (28/333/3 on 43 targets) with two teams scoring over 19.0 Fantasy points from the TE position (KC – 6/105 and PHI – 5/58/2). Andrew Luck will use his TEs a lot in this game with Jacksonville having strength at the CB position. I don’t believe Doyle is a slam dunk to be a stud going forward with Eric Ebron in the mix as well for TE targets, but he will be steady with a chance at a TD in many games.
David Njoku (DK – $4,200/FD – $5,400): Njoku is listed as questionable for this week’s game with knee and rib issues. David has two TDs in his last four games, but he did deliver a zero in Week 8 with no targets. Njoku has fewer than 60 yards receiving in eight of his nine games while averaging 6.2 targets per game. The Falcons are 21st vs. the TE position (42/434/3 on 59 targets) with one team scoring over 20 Fantasy points (TB – 6/82/2). A winnable game if he plays, but his health concern may keep me away.
Austin Hooper (DK – $3,800/FD – $5,800): Hooper came up short in his last two games (3/48 and 3/41) after showing promise in the two previous weeks (9/77 and 9/71/1). Austin is on pace for 72 catches for 722 yards and four TDs while averaging 5.5 targets per game. Cleveland sits 24th in the league against the TE position (51/542/4 on 77 targets) while struggling vs. TEs in three games (OAK – 11/133/2, TB – 12/111, and KC – 7/99/2). A favorable matchup for sure, but he remains a 4/5 option in the passing game for the Falcons. More of a piece of Matt Ryan than a stand-alone piece to the puzzle.
Eric Ebron (DK – $3,500/FD – $5,400): With Jack Doyle back on the field, Ebron will move back to the TE2 position on the Colts while still offering value in the passing game. His success projected over 16 games would come to 72 catches for 788 yards and 14 TDs on 122 targets. Over the last three games, Eric had four catches or fewer in each game while receiving 17 combined targets and two TDs. His lack of playing time in Week 8 (17 snaps) was most likely due to him being banged up going into the bye week and Doyle returning to the lineup. Indy doesn’t have strength at WR2 or even upside in their pass-catching backs, which Ebron a good chance of being a 10+ Fantasy point player going forward helped by his scoring ability. More of a gamble in the daily games this week.
Benjamin Watson (DK – $3,400/FD – $5,900): Watson offered steady value in two of his last three starts (6/43/1 and 3/62/1), but the Vikings shut him out in Week 8 with no targets. Over the last six games, he’s been out snapped in each game by Josh Hill while Dan Arnold has received some playing time as well. Cinci allows the second-most Fantasy points to TEs (53/602/5 on 71 targets) with huge problems in four games (IND – 12/124/1, PIT – 14/129, KC – 6/112/1, and TB – 5/81/1). In each of these cases, those teams had strength at QB and talent at the TE position. Seems viable, but Watson does only see four targets per game.
Chris Herndon (DK – $3,100/FD – $5,500): Over the last four games, Herndon has 11 catches for 176 yards and three TDs on 15 targets to be at least viable in the season-long games. Even with his success, he remains in a three-way rotation for playing time for the Jets. Buffalo is 9th vs. TEs with 33/371/4 on 60 targets while allowing fewer than 60 yards receiving to the TE position over the last eight games. Boring ceiling, but the change to a Josh McCown at QB may be enough help to add more upside to his game.
Nick Vannett (DK – $2,700/FD – $5,200): After short success over his first six games (1/11, 3/23, 4/27, 1/6, 3/43, and 1/16), Vannett showed a pulse last week (6/52/1) with a season-high eight targets. This season the Seahawks’ TEs have 30 catches for 411 yards and four TDs on 48 targets with decent success in four games (4/116/1, 6/65/1, 3/70/1, and 6/52/1) while coming from multiple TE options. The Rams are 18th against TEs (43/592/2 on 71 targets) while showing risk in three games (OAK – 11/200, SF – 5/98/1, and NO – 5/72/1). A chaser game should work in his favor, but Ed Dickson will steal some of his chances. Only makes sense in a Russell Wilson stack.
Jonnu Smith (DK – $2,500/FD – $4,200): Smith caught both of his targets last week for 33 yards and one TD. This season Jonnu doesn’t have any game with over three targets while delivering a zero in three games. The Patriots rank 28th vs. the TE position (46/565/6 on 73 targets) with disaster in two games (IND – 12/149/3 and CHI – 9/126/1). Too much emptiness to trust in the daily games, but New England will let him catch passes all day if Marcus Mariota would throw it to him.