“Off the Matt” Quarterback to Tight End, Claim/Drop and Start/Sit, Week #13
There were some notable injuries in Week 12 at the tight end position. Two of the best in the game in Rob Gronkowski and Jordan Reed headed to the locker room during the first half of their games. As a Reed owner, when I saw him on his back clutching his shoulder some of the language that spewed from my mouth would make even the most hardened sailor blush. Much to my surprise, he returned and I was able to resume enjoying my Thanksgiving feast. After he caught his first touchdown I banged two turkey drumsticks together in a celebratory fashion. After the second touchdown, I lined up some gravy shots and pounded them like it was my 21st birthday. It was a good day.
I woke up the next morning with a massive hangover. It wasn’t from the gravy shots, but rather seeing the news that Reed had suffered a Grade 3 AC joint separation in his left shoulder and he might be forced to miss some time. The combination of adrenaline and whatever drug they shot into his shoulder got him through the rest of that game. However, once the swelling settles in, it is hard to say what his range of motion will be. Having 10 days between games definitely helps, but it is too early to know for sure what his status will be in Week 13.
While the short-term wasn’t as pleasant for Gronk owners, the long-term news might be better. Although Gronk didn’t return to the game against the Jets, it is being reported that the injury doesn’t appear to be serious and he isn’t expected to miss anymore time because of it. Again, with it being so early in the week it is hard to say for sure. Fantasy owners should have a backup plan in place in case Reed or Gronk are down for Week 13.
Week 13: Workin’ the Wire
Fortunately, for Reed owners, his direct replacement Vernon Davis is only owned in about 22% of leagues. Earlier in the season, he shined while Reed was on the shelf. Even with Reed back in the lineup he has been a solid contributor scoring at least six fantasy points in five of his last six games.
For Gronk owners, the situation is a bit more cloudy. Martellus Bennett is owned in 85% of leagues. Although he is coming off back to back poor outings, he would still be worth a start if Gronk was out of action in Week 13.
Guys who have been mentioned in this section before like Cameron Brate, Ladarius Green, Vance McDonald, and Lance Kendricks would be nice spot plays and depending on your league size/waiver activity might be available.
If you are in a big time crunch this week I am sure Saints tight end Josh Hill is available on your wire. He cashed in on all six of his targets turning them into a career high 74 yards in Week 12. This boost in production was dictated by coverage designed to not let Brandin Cooks get deep. If teams continue to take away Cooks then Hill should get some looks. Having Drew Brees as your quarterback doesn’t hurt either.
I would normally be all over a quarterback who in his first start of the season dropped 316/3/2, but I am passing on Matt Barkley. While I would like to endorse someone with a name so similar to mine, I just can’t do it. His play will be too inconsistent to be counted on, especially with the fantasy playoffs looming.
Drew Brees vs. DET
Not proud to list such an obvious start in this section, but this is more for the DFS players out there. Brees is going to be worth the buck this week. The Lions have given up the third most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks despite facing lower tier names like Hoyer, Wentz, Keenum, Osweiler, Bortles, and Bradford twice. Brees has been incredible at home throwing for 300+ yards and three or four touchdowns in five out of six games. This is a rare situation in the fantasy game that is known as the “Great White Buffalo.” Don’t let’em get away.
Philip Rivers vs. TB
Speaking of quarterbacks who play well at home, Rivers has thrown for multiple touchdowns in every home game with the exception being Denver. The Bucs have been a Jekyll and Hyde defense this year. They have been torched by the arms of Derek Carr, Carson Palmer, and Matt Ryan twice. On the flip side they shut down Case Keenum, Cutler, and the Denver duo of Siemian and Lynch. Do you see the trend? I will give them credit for the effort they displayed in holding Russell Wilson to 10 fantasy points, but for the most part good quarterbacks have shredded this defense. I consider Rivers a good quarterback.
Travis Kelce @ ATL
After an inconsistent start to the season Kelce has caught fire going over 100 yards in three of his last five games. The only downside to Kelce is that he has only found the end zone once in his last seven games. The good news for Kelce owners is that the Falcons have allowed a tight end to score a touchdown seven times this season.
Vance McDonald @ CHI
I am not trying to make Vance McDonald out to be the next Tony Gonzalez, but he has been as consistent as any tight end in the game over the last four weeks. Over that stretch, he has scored at least five points in each game including two double digit efforts. I know what your thinking.
Am I really suppose to be pumped up over a five point effort?
I would answer that with a question of my own.
Have you been paying attention to the tight end production this year?
Jason Witten is currently the #12 rated tight end with 67 fantasy points. That is six points per week my friend. It has been a down year for the position. If you can pop a guy into your line up who has averaged just under nine points per week with a floor of five for a four week stretch please do it.
C.J. Fiedorowicz @ G.B.
CJF has become Brock’s security blanket this season. He has been targeted at least five times in eight straight games and has caught at least four passes in seven of those games. The Packers defense has some serious holes and has allowed six different tight ends to catch five or more passes. You should be able to pencil in CJF for a 6/65 type of line.
Ryan Tannehill @ BAL
I see you Ryan, but I just can’t trust you against a Ravens defense that has been playing so well. They have only allowed one quarterback to throw for multiple touchdown in their last five games. Also, they have been stingy in the yardage department, allowing only two 300+ yard passing games on the season. The Dolphins have been playing good football winning their last six games, but I believe they are in for a major misstep this week in Baltimore.
Cam Newton @ SEA
If Cam isn’t running he drops to a low-end starter in the fantasy world. In his last two games he has attempted a total of eight rushes. Fortunately, for his fantasy owners one of those found the end zone or it would have marked his fourth game in his last five scoring less than 15 fantasy points. He only has three games on the season with multiple touchdown passes and has gone five straight without a 300 yard game. In Seattle for a prime-time game seems like an unlikely place for Cam to get his groove back. He is a risky guy to bench, but if I have a strong backup option I am not hesitating.
Kirk Cousins @ AZ
Speaking of guys that are risky to bench…
No one has scored more points than Kirk Cousins over the last two weeks. Cousins has been a yardage machine throwing for 300+ in five of his last six games. However, in Week 13 there are a few factors in play that have me pumping the brakes on Cousins. The Cardinals have only allowed two quarterbacks to score 20+ fantasy points against them. On both occasions it was quarterbacks who were aided by double digit production in ground stats. Furthermore, the Cardinals have yet to allow a quarterback to throw for more than 270 yards against them and have only allowed multiple touchdown passes twice. Add in that one of his best weapons in Jordan Reed is banged up and this has the makings of a dud game for Cousins. I know it is hard to bench the hot hand, but tell him to take a seat this week and rest up for a fantasy playoff run.
Jason Witten @ MIN
I am going to go ahead and call Jason Witten’s 8/134/1 game against the Browns the biggest statistical anomaly of the season. His next highest yardage output is 66 yards back in Week 1. The Vikings have only allowed one tight end to score double digit fantasy points on the season, and are fresh off a shutout of Eric Ebron.
Greg Olsen @ SEA
It has been a tale of two seasons for Greg Olsen. Congratulations to anyone who sold high on him after Week 6. Since then he has posted totals of 1, 11, 4, 3, and 4 fantasy points. Like I mentioned with Cam, at Seattle for a prime-time game seems like an unlikely scenario for him to break out of this slump.
Stack Play: Smith to Kelce
There is nothing less sexy then Alex Smith’s game. However, he is a winner and from time to time he stumbles onto a big game. What better chance for a big game then against the defense that allows the most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks? I know the Chiefs and shootout don’t normally go together, but my gut says that there are going to be some points in this one and Smith will need to be throwing to keep pace. He has been looking Kelce’s way early and often the last few weeks and I expect that to continue this week against a defense who struggles to hold down opposing tight ends.
Good luck this week. Hit me up on Twitter @barkballin with any questions.
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