FAVORABLE MATCHUPS (CASH/GPP)
Jordan Reed (DK – $5,200/FD – $6,200): After three mid-level games (4/48/1, 6/55, and 4/65) on 20 combined targets, Reed was a bust last week vs. the Saints’ defense (1/21 on two targets). New Orleans played well vs. TEs all year (19/195 on 27 targets), but Jordan was the best option they’ve faced in 2018. Over the last two games, Washington had Reed on the field for about 65 percent of their plays. With Vernon Davis injured with a hamstring issue and much of the Redskins’ receiving core having an injury tag next to their name, Jordan should be the most active receiver for Washington against the Panthers. TEs have 20 catches for 213 yards and one TD on 26 targets in four games against Carolina while showing failure risk in two games (ATL – 6/69/1 and CIN – 9/109). As frustrating as he may be, I have to believe he’s the best TE play of the week on Sunday in the Million Dollar Maker.
Jared Cook (DK – $5,000/FD – $6,400): Both times that Cook came off an elite game (9/180 and 8/110/2), he came up short the following week (4/49 and 4/20). After five games, Jared has 30 catches for 390 yards and two TDs on 41 targets. He averages 8.2 targets per game with more of his chances coming in his two best games (12 and 13). TEs have 19 catches for 213 yards and one TD on 28 targets vs. the Seahawks while facing mostly weak TE options (DEN, DAL, ARI, and LAR). Trey Burton was the best TE that Seattle faced, and the jury is still out on his watermark. With Oakland having some talent at WR, Cook should reemerge in the Raiders’ passing game in this matchup.
Cameron Brate (DK – $3,700/FD – $4,500): Brate has a TD in two straight games while delivering minimal production in each contest (3/34/1 and 3/29/1). This week Cameron was expected to get the starting job, but there is a chance that O.J. Howard plays. Even if Howard plays, Brate should see the majority of TE snaps for Tampa. Over the first four games, Cameron only has ten targets while being in the field for 106 of 261 plays run by the Bucs (40.6 percent). This season TEs have 23 catches for 229 yards and one TD on 34 targets against the Falcons. In 2017, Tampa had success with their TEs against Atlanta (9/57/1 on 13 targets and 7/116/1 on nine targets). If Howard doesn’t play, Brate should be a nice value TE in this matchup.
Austin Hooper (DK – $3,500/FD – $5,600): Hooper was Ryan’s top check down option last week leading to a career-high 12 targets. He finished with nine catches for 77 yards, which was good enough to rank third for the week at TE. On the year, Austin has 21 catches for 202 yards and one TD on 27 targets. He looks to be on a pace to beat last year’s season (49/526/3) by about 25 percent. In 2017, Hooper had five catches for 50 yards on seven targets in two games against the Bucs. TEs have three big games (15/151, 5/119/1, and 2/86/1) against Tampa. A favorable matchup, but so does the rest of the Falcon’s receivers, so something has to give. In the mix at this level, but he could be the trap of the week.
MATCHUP RISK / AGAINST THE GRAIN (GPP)
Trey Burton (DK – $4,500/FD – $5,800): After four games, Burton has the 9th highest scoring average at TE in PPR leagues. He looked better in his last two games (4/55 and 2/86/1), but Trey only has 19 targets on the year. Over the last two games, he caught three balls over 20 yards highlighted by his 39-yard TD and 47-yard catches against the Bucs. Miami held the TE to fewer than ten Fantasy points in their last four games while facing two top TEs (Jared Cook and Rob Gronkowski). The Dolphins did struggle in Week 1 (7/101 on 12 targets) against the Titans’ TEs. Overall, TEs have 23 catches for 271 yards and no TDs on 37 targets vs. Miami. Tough to get excited here.
David Njoku (DK – $3,800/FD – $5,500): After five weeks of the NFL season, Njoku is the 14th highest scoring TE while trending upward in his last two games (5/52 on seven targets and 6/69 on 11 targets) with Baker Mayfield behind center. David doesn’t have a TD in 2018 after scoring four TDs in 2017. TEs have 19 catches for 232 yards and one TD on 34 targets against the Chargers with their only failed week coming vs. the 49ers (6/125/1). In that game, George Kittle hit on an 82-yard TD. LA did hold Travis Kelce (1/6 on six targets) and Jared Cook (4/20 on six targets) to short games. More of an against the grain play, but his salary does keep in the mix week as due to score.
Jeff Heuerman (DK – $2,600/FD – $4,400): Over the last two games with starting snaps, Heuerman caught six of his 11 targets for 75 yards. The Broncos’ TEs have 22 catches for 228 yards on 36 targets on the year with no TDs. The Rams rank just below league average defending TEs (28/371 on 39 targets) with more than half of the damage coming in Week 1 vs. the Raiders (11/200 on 15 targets). A low-level player with minimal opportunity in most weeks.
BAD MATCHUP (AVOID)
Ricky Seal-Jones (DK – $2,700/FD – $5,000): There isn’t a lot of fun in Seals-Jones game at this point of the year. Last week the 49ers shut him out on six targets. Over five games, Ricky caught 40 percent of his 25 targets for 123 yards and one TD. TEs have 28 catches for 372 yards and two TDs on 36 targets against the Vikings with three teams having success (SF – 5/90, GB – 7/99, and PHI – 12/126/1). I couldn’t paint a high enough picture to consider RSJ at this point of the year. He needs better QB play to even get out of the starting block.
NEUTRAL (ALL FORMATS)
Eric Ebron (DK – $5,400/FD – $6,500): Ebron has 36 targets over his last three games, which is an elite opportunity. His catch rate (52.8) was in a weak area over this span. Last week Eric had the best game of his NFL career (9/105/2 on 15 targets) putting him on pace for 83 catches for 816 yards and 16 TDs. Over the last three games, Ebron has ten targets in the red zone and two inside the five-yard line. He missed practice again this week with multiple minor injuries while expecting to play on Sunday. His pace in targets and TD can’t keep up, but Luck will throw to the TE, and Indy doesn’t have a scoring WR threat in the red zone. The Jets lead the NFL in TE defense, but they played four teams (DET, MIA, JAC, and DEN) with weak options at TE. David Njoku (2/36) is the best TE New York has faced all year. Eric will get decent targets with some chances at scoring, but I don’t like playing a player after a huge game. The TE options on the main slate on Sunday are weak, so Ebron can’t be ruled out as the top option.
Kyle Rudolph (DK – $4,400/FD – $6,200): Rudolph has settled into a nice steady piece of the Vikings’ passing game over the last four weeks (7/72, 5/48/1, 5/57, and 5/41). He’s yet to deliver an impact game while averaging 6.25 targets over his last four starts. This season TEs have 18 catches for 226 yards and two TDs on 26 targets against the Cardinals with Jordan Reed and George Kittle being the biggest names. The Vikings will get their passing yards in their matchup, and Kyle may very well score, but the lack of competition on the scoreboard should limit his explosiveness. His salary is low enough where a 6/60/1 game still works at this level.
Greg Olsen (DK – $4,300/FD – $5,900): After missing a month of the season, the Panthers expect to have Olsen back in the starting lineup after turning in a full practice on Thursday. In Week 1, he caught both of his targets for 33 yards while only being the field for 16 plays. Over the last three games, the TEs on Carolina only caught eight of 14 targets for 68 yards. This season TEs have 19 catches for 164 yards and two TDs on 29 targets against the Redskins while facing two decent TEs (Eric Ebron and Jimmy Graham). Olsen may need a game to get back his rhythm in the Panthers’ offense, but his salary is well below his pre-2017 skill set.
Vance McDonald (DK – $3,400/FD – $4,600): Thou giveth and thou taketh away is a moto that happens way too many time in Fantasy sports. McDonald was trending upward after two good games (4/112/1 and 5/62), but the Falcons held him to only one catch for six yards on two targets. Last week he had almost an equal split for snaps (61 to 59) with Jesse James. TEs have 28 catches for 280 yards and two TDs on 41 targets against Cinci with the Colts (12/124/1) having the most success. Vance hasn’t had over five targets in any game in 2018, so I would look elsewhere for upside.
C.J. Uzomah (DK – $3,000/FD – $5,100): In his first game with starting snaps, Uzomah caught both of his targets for 43 yards while being in the field for 92 percent of the Bengals’ snaps. Tyler Kroft suffered a foot injury last week, which gives C.J. even a better window for chances. Over five games, Uzomah only has nine catches for 117 yards and one TD on ten targets. Pittsburgh has been brutal defending TEs in four straight games (7/109/2, 9/106/1, 10/99, and 10/85), which is enough of a reason to add C.J. to an Andy Dalton stack or two. A favorable matchup, but he doesn’t have a strong enough resume or opportunity to get a full green light in Week 6.
Nick Vannett (DK – $2,900/FD – $4,900): Last week with starting snaps, Vannett caught three of his four targets for 43 yards. On the year, Nick has 12 catches for 110 yards on 18 targets. This week he landed on the injury report with a back issue, but he’s expected to play on Sunday. TEs have 19 catches for 238 yards and two TDs on 26 targets against the Raiders with Cleveland having the most success (6/101/1). Only a flier, but a TD would give him a chance to fill his salary bucket.
Hayden Hurst (DK – $2,700/FD – $4,500): Over the last two seasons at South Carolina, Hurst caught 92 passes for 1,175 yards and three TDs. Many of his highlights in college show him with easy releases and wide-open catches behind the second level of the defense. Hayden needs to prove he can handle press coverage in the NFL and a tighter catch window. His hands grade well while having the speed to test a defense in the deep passing. Last week the Ravens had him on the field for about a quarter of their plays. Player to follow, but Baltimore rotates in too many TEs at this point of the season to trust Hayden in the daily games.