FAVORABLE MATCHUPS (CASH/GPP)
Auston Hopper (DK – $3,700/FD – $5,300): Over the last couple of weeks, Hooper has been battling knee and ankle issue. He failed to catches his only target last week, which came after six straight games with fewer than 60 yards receiving. Austin has 34 catches for 284 yards and two TDs over his last seven games with one game of value (10/56/1). In Week 2, he caught five passes for 59 yards and one TD vs. the Panthers. Carolina allows the third most Fantasy points to TEs (76/848/8 on 101 targets) four poor showings (CIN – 9/109, WAS – 8/84/1, PHI – 13/181/1, BAL – 7/67/1, TB – 7/68/2, and PIT – 5/52/2). Winnable matchup while health remains in questions (only 51 percent of the TE snaps last week in a blowout game).
Zach Ertz (DK – $5,900/FD – $7,400): During the most important time of the year, Ertz left Fantasy owner at the doorstep of victory in the championship rounds of the playoffs in the season-long games. Over his last two games, Zach delivered to short games (5/38 and 3/22) on 15 combined targets. This season he’s been a much better player at home (59/688/4 on 76 targets) than on the road (42/350/2 on 60 targets) while averaging 9.7 targets per game. Ertz has three games with over 100 yards receiving and eight games with seven catches or more highlighted by his game in Week 10 (14/145/2). Houston can struggle vs. TEs (22nd – 74/906/7 on 99 targets) with disaster showing in three games (NE – 7/123/1, DEN – 11/127/1, and TEN – 8/142/1). I like his salary based on his 2018 resume and potential upside in this game. I expect 25+ Fantasy points while being a nice hookup option for the underpriced Nick Foles.
MATCHUP RISK / AGAINST THE GRAIN (GPP)
George Kittle (DK – $6,000/FD – $7,400): Kittle fell short of expectation last week (3/51 on eight targets), but he was wide open on a couple of big plays that Matt Mullens over threw him. Over his previous ten games, George caught 57 passes for 912 yards and four TDs on 82 targets with his best success coming at home (30/582/3) in five games. He averages about eight targets over his last 11 starts. The Bears are 10th defending TEs (58/548/4 on 93 targets) with no TDs allowed to a TE over their last nine games. No team scored over 19.0 Fantasy points at TE against Chicago this season. Below matchup, but he does have the big play ability to shine while being an against the grain play.
Rob Gronkowski (DK – $5,600/FD – $6,600): After a nice game (8/107/1) in Week 14, Gronk regressed to his previous form (2/21) from Week 8 to Week 13 (3/43, 3/56/1, and 3/26). His only other game of value (7/123/1) came at home while averaging only 6.1 targets per game. The Bills have the second best TE defense (42/477/4 on 73 targets) with his worst game against TEs came in Week 1 (BAL – 9/103). TEs have emptiness against Buffalo over his last four games (1/5, 1/9, 2/27, and 1/25). Tough buy for me especially in a game when New England expects to run on a high volume of plays.
Vance McDonald (DK – $4,100/FD – $5,500): McDonald scored an early TD, but he still finished with a short game (2/13/1). Vance has four catches or fewer in each of his last eight games while failing to gain over 50 yards receiving in any game while averaging 4.75 targets per game. New Orleans ranks 5th defending TEs (49/516/4 on 75 targets). The Saints did allow three TDs to TEs over the last two games. A chaser game could help him, but his floor and ceiling remain in question at this point of the year.
Ian Thomas (DK – $3,500/FD – $5,400): Over the last three games as a starter, Thomas has 16 catches for 137 yards on 20 targets with his best success coming in Week 14 (9/77). Ian still doesn’t have a TD in the NFL. The Falcons worked their way to 15th in TE defense (63/652/4 on 93 targets). With a backup QB behind center in Carolina, Thomas has more risk than reward with huge questions with his scoring ability.
BAD MATCHUP (AVOID)
Trey Burton (DK – $4,000/FD – $5,900): Burton is the 7th highest scoring TE, but he scored 140 Fantasy points fewer than Travis Kelce in PPR leagues. Over his last eight games, Trey only has 20 catches for 181 yards and two TDs on 32 targets (four per game). His only impact game (9/126/1) came at home in Week 7 vs. New England. The 49ers climbed to 6th in TE defense (49/538/5 on 77 targets) after holding their last three opponents to short scores at TE (SEA – 1/4, DEN – 2/8, and SEA – 2/14). San Fran did struggle against the TE twice earlier in the year (KC – 9/127/1 and GB – 7/141). Below par matchup with huge questions with his opportunity.
Jimmy Graham (DK – $3,700/FD – $5,400): Graham has a low resume over his last eight games (22/232/1 on 36 targets) with his best game over this span coming in Week 9 (4/55/1). Jimmy averages 5.7 targets per game in 2018. The Jets have the third best TE defense (39/452/5 on 64 targets) with disaster in one game (IND – 6/107/2). Not healthy and his days in the NFL are a couple of weeks away from ending.
NEUTRAL (ALL FORMATS)
Eric Ebron (DK – $5,700/FD – $6,100): Ebron struggled last week (1/8) for the second time in five weeks. The Colts only had him on the field for 53 percent of their plays as Indy turned to a better blocking TE in a heavy run attack. He remains the fourth highest scoring TE (59/662/13) with three games (9/105/2, 3/69/2, and 5/45/2) with over 20.0 Fantasy points. Ebron has better player overall on the road (38/418/6 on 64 targets). The Giants are league average vs. the TE position (70/795/3 on 96 targets) with one disaster game (10/124/1). Andrew Luck loves to throw to the TE and Eric is a top choice at the goal line. Mid-teen floor with more upside if he hits on multiple touchdowns.
Evan Engram (DK – $4,600/FD – $5,700): Against a top TE defense (TEN) in Week 14, Engram turned in his best game (8/75) since Week 2 (7/67/1). He finished with a second high 12 targets while showing big-play ability (11/152 on 17 targets) over his last two starts. His bump in chances was helped by Odell Beckham not playing, which looks like the case again this week. The Colts are 26th against TEs (87/1007/3 on 109 targets). Indy struggled against TEs in three games (PHI – 12/146/1, TEN – 12/123, and HOU – 11/151). A talented player with scoring ability, which may work well opposite a Colts receiving stack.
Cameron Brate (DK – $3,900/FD – $5,200): Over four games with starting snaps for the Bucs, Brate only has nine catches for 83 yards and three TDs on 16 targets. Cameron still doesn’t have over three catches in any game in 2018. The Cowboys slid to 20th vs. TEs (79/815/6 on 108 targets) with failure in three games (PHI – 14/145/2, WAS – 8/148/1, and PHI – 9/82/1) over their last six contests. Not ideal based his resume this season, but Tampa may be forced to look his way more often in this matchup.
David Njoku (DK – $3,800/FD – $5,300): After another short game (3/30) last week, Njoku fell out of the top 12 TE rankings in PPR leagues. Over his last seven games, he only has 19 catches for 207 yards and one TD on 26 targets with one reasonable game (5/63/1), which came against the Bengals. On the year, he averages only 5.5 targets per game. Cinci allows the fourth-most Fantasy points to TEs (73/839/8 on 96 targets) with seven teams scoring over 18.0 Fantasy points at TE. Seems viable at this level, but Njoku needs game flow to point to more passes to post an impact game.
Kyle Rudolph (DK – $3,400/FD – $5,500): Rudolph never found his winning ways in 2018 with Kirk Cousins starting at QB in Minnesota. His scoreless streak extended to 11 games. Over this stretch, Kyle has 38 catches for 362 yards on 52 targets while failing to gain over 40 yards in eight games. In Week 9, he had two catches for 28 yards against the Lions. Detroit sits 11th defending TEs (54/599/4 on 78 targets). The Lions held TEs to fewer than 35 yards receiving in each of their last five games. On the wrong path, but a TD does give him a chance at his low salary level.
Chris Herndon (DK – $3,100/FD – $5,400): Over the last nine games, Herndon has 27 catches for 365 yards and three TDs on 39 targets. He’s yet to score over 15.0 Fantasy points in any game while averaging 4.3 targets per game as a starter. The Packers rank seventh vs. the TE position (56/642/2 on 82 targets) with three teams having success (18.10, 19.50, and 19.50). Possible TD, which makes him live underdog at this level of salary.