FAVORABLE MATCHUPS (CASH/GPP)
Rob Gronkowski (DK – $5,800/FD – $6,900): Last week I told a close friend of mine that I was keying on Gronkowski in the daily games. He responded with a surprised comment, “have you seen him run over the last couple of weeks?”. My tells suggested Rob was a strong play vs. the Dolphins, and he rewarded my confidence with his best game (8/107/1) since Week 1. The key component for me on Gronk last week was his ability to be on the field for most plays while giving the appearance of not being healthy in practice during the week. This season he only has 43 catches for 637 yards and three TDs, which is well behind his expected value. The Steelers allow the fourth-most Fantasy points to TEs (73/853/2) with failure vs. TEs in six games (KC – 7/109/2, TB – 9/106/1, BAL – 10/99, ATL – 10/85, DEN – 5/78/1, and OAK – 10/148/2). Based on his move forward last week, Gronkowski gained the green tag again this week helped by an upside matchup.
Jared Cook (DK – $5,600/FD – $6,300): After stealing daily Fantasy owners capital too many times from Week 5 to Week 12 (4/20, 2/10, 4/74/1, 2/20, 4/52, 3/31/1, and 2/32/1), Cook moved back into beast status with back-to-back strong games (7/100/1 and 7/1116) while facing two teams (PIT and KC) that struggled to defend TEs. Early in the season, Jared posted two other impact games (9/180 and 8/110/2). He’s officially at career-high levels in catches (61), yards (825), and TDs (6) with three games to go in the season. Cinci barely gave up any Fantasy points to TEs in their last two games (DEN – 0/0 and LAC – 2/19), but they still rank 23rd in the NFL vs. TEs (69/771/7 on 89 targets) with failure in six games (IND – 12/124/1, BAL – 8/74/1, PIT – 14/129, KC – 6/112/1, TB – 6/81/1, and CLE – 6/69/2). Cook sure looks like a strong play this week, but can his ticket come in three weeks in a row? In the mix at this level as he’s the number one receiving option for Derek Carr at this point of the year.
Kyle Rudolph (DK – $3,500/FD – $5,600: After 14 weeks of the NFL season, Rudolph is the 14th highest scoring TE with no TDs in his last ten games. Kyle gained fewer than 40 yards in seven of his last eight games while averaging only five targets per game. His peak game (5/48/1) came in Week 3. Miami is 21st in the league vs. TEs (64/698/9 on 84 targets) with failure against TEs in five games (TEN – 7/101, DET – 5/56/2, HOU – 4/29/2, IND – 9/61/3, and NE – 8/107/1). Rudolph is a better player than he’s shown, but Kirk Cousins doesn’t have him on speed dial in games. His matchup gives him a chance at a TD with a low enough salary to surprise.
Anthony Firkser (DK – $2,900/FD – $5,100): Over the last four games, Firkser caught all 13 of his targets for 165 yards and one TD while receiving part-time snaps. With Jonnu Smith injured, Anthony will get a nice boost in playing time and chances in Week 15. In his best season at Harvard in 2016, he caught 45 passes for 702 yards and seven TDs. The Titans’ TEs have five TDs over their last seven games with a much better opportunity for success in three games (12/123, 8/142/1, and 6/75/1). The Giants are 16th against TEs (67/766/3 on 92 targets) with struggles in three games (HOU – 5/115, ATL – 8/50/1, and PHI – 10/124/1). Sneaky value option who makes a ton of sense as a low-value hookup with Marcus Mariota.
MATCHUP RISK / AGAINST THE GRAIN (GPP)
George Kittle (DK – $6,300/FD – $7,400): After an electric game (7/210/1) last week vs. the Raiders, Kittle moved to third in TE scoring in PPR leagues. He’s on pace for 85 catches for 1,358 yards and five TDs on 126 targets. George had an amazing five catches over 40 yards for a TE leading to seven games with over 80 yards receiving. Over his last four games, Kittle has nine targets or more in each game (42 total). In Week 13, he caught six of his nine targets for 70 yards against the Seahawks. Seattle ranks eighth against TEs (47/502/4 on 67 targets) with only two teams (LAR – 5/40/2 and GB – 4/79/1) scoring over 15.0 Fantasy points at TE. With most of the TEs options on the main slate on Sunday lacking a high floor and explosive ceiling, many Fantasy owners will be drawn to George in this matchup that isn’t ideal. His salary requires 25.0+ Fantasy points, which seems high. Possible trap as many Fantasy owners will tie him up with the low salary ($4,800) of his starting QB.
Evan Engram (DK – $4,100/DK – $5,200): In his first game back in action since Week 11, Engram caught three of his five targets for 77 yards in a game that New York played from a big lead. Over eight games, Evan has 26 catches for 334 yards and two TDs on 38 targets with one game of value (7/67/1). The Titans have the top TE defense (50/467/0 on 73 targets). The only team to have some success at TE against Tennessee was the Eagles (12/125). Even with a low salary, Engram is a tough start in any format even if Odell Beckham doesn’t play.
Jimmy Graham (DK – $3,800/FD – $5,500): Graham regressed to his empty ways again in Week 14 (2/13 on five targets). Over his last seven games, Jimmy has 19 catches for 200 yards and a TD on 32 targets with his only pulse coming in Week 13 (eight catches for 50 yards). In Week 1, he only had two catches for eight yards on four targets against the Bears. Chicago sits 10th defending TEs (51/489/4 on 84 targets) with no team scoring over 19.0 Fantasy points at TE. His sliding salary along with his fading skill set suggests a donation in Week 15.
Trey Burton (DK – $3,700/FD – $5,500): Burton extended his scoreless streak to five games after starting the year with five TDs in his first eight starts. Trey only has 18 targets over his recent scoring slump leading to empty scores in each game (4/40/ 1/9, 4/28, 0/0, and 2/22). His only game of value came in Week 7 (9/126/1). He caught only one of his five targets in Week 1 for 15 yards vs. the Packers. Green Bay ranks 4th in NFL against the TE position (50/567/1 on 73 targets) with two teams posting respectable games (MIN – 6/91 and WAS – 6/135). Bottom feeder who is running out of supports. Pass.
Vernon Davis (DK – $3,200/FD – $5,300): With Jordan Reed out this week, Davis will be the starting TE for the Redskins. Last week he caught all four of his targets for 31 yards while receiving 80 percent of the TE snaps in Washington. His best three games (3/48/1, 5/62, and 2/73/1) only point to mid-teen upside with more playing time. The Jaguars are league average against TEs (58/640/7 on 85 targets) with four teams posting strong games (KC – 6/105, PHI – 5/58/2, IND – 8/133/3, and IND – 11/85). Senior citizen option while playing in a dying offense with a fourth string QB paints an empty picture.
BAD MATCHUP (AVOID)
Austin Hooper (DK – $4,200/FD – $5,500): Hooper landed on the injury report this week with knee and ankle issues. He’ll be a game-time decision on Sunday with the last update giving him a chance to play on Sunday. Austin has under 60 yards receiving in each of his last seven games with two TDs. His best success in 2018 came in Week 6 (9/71/1) and Week 10 (10/56/1) while scoring two other TDs. He averages just over six targets per game. The Cardinals are seventh defending the TE position (52/538/3 on 72 targets) with no TE scoring over 17.0 Fantasy points. Too many uncertainties here to play in the daily games in a tough matchup.
NEUTRAL (ALL FORMATS)
Eric Ebron (DK – $5,900/FD – $6,500): I thought it was interesting to see that Ebron was projected for 15.58 Fantasy points in Week 15 at ScoutFantasySports.com, which matched exactly his scoring average at DraftKings this season. Eric continues to be a steady TE with more upside than failure in most weeks. His two poor games came in Week 3 (5/33) and Week 11 (0/0) with the second game coming from game score and Jack Doyle back on the field. Ebron has 13 TDs with one monster game (9/105/3) while scoring 15.0 Fantasy points or more in eight games. He has four double-digit target games helping him average 7.4 targets per game. Dallas fell to 25th in TE defense (78/807/6 on 105 targets) after struggling against TEs in three of their last five games (PHI – 14/145/2, WAS – 8/148/1, and PHI – 9/82/1). His salary is above his season’s scoring average, but his matchup does give him a fighting chance to pay off. Torn as I know I need to find salary cap relief at TE in Week 15.
Cameron Brate (DK – $4,000/FD – $5,400): Brate still doesn’t have over three catches or over 40 yards receiving in any game in 2018. He does have six TDs with three coming over the last three games as a starter. He beat the Saints for two TDs last week, but Jameis Winston only looked his way two other times. This season the Bucs’ TEs have 68 catches for 855 yards and 11 TDs on 96 targets, which ranks as a top ten opportunity. The Ravens have a top defense, but they do have some risk vs. TEs (27th – 73/858/6 on 98 targets). They’ve allowed a TD to the TE in six of their last seven games. Six of their last seven opponents scored over 15.0 Fantasy points at TE against Baltimore. Cameron needs more targets to help his floor, but his scoring ability does give him a chance in this matchup.
Vance McDonald (DK – $3,900/FD – $5,500): McDonald has been a boring TE option over his last seven games (3/47, 3/25, 4/44/1, 3/27/1, 3/27, 4/28, and 4/37) while continuing to split playing time with Jesse James. His only game of value came in Week 3 (4/112/1). Vance averages less than five targets per game. The Patriots are just below league average vs. the TE position (62/740/7 on 93 targets) with huge failure in two games (IND – 12/149/3 and CHI 9/126/1). New England will look to take away the Steelers’ two top WRs creating a winnable window for Pittsburgh’s TDs.
Blake Jarwin (DK – $2,700/FD – $4,700): Last week Jarwin has a career high in catches (7) and receiving yards (56), but the Cowboys only had him on the field for 59 percent of the plays (season high). Blake doesn’t have any other game in 2018 with more than two catches or more than 25 yards receiving. In his best season in college (Oklahoma State), he caught 19 passes for 309 yards and two TDs. The Colts are 24th defending TEs (80/989/3 on 98 targets) with huge failure in three games (PHI – 12/146/1, TEN – 12/123, and HOU – 11/151). Not the best talent, but game plan will lead to Indy doubling Amari Cooper while trying to slow down the run game. Possible play action TD while his resume doesn’t suggest a high level of success.