Note: Ranked by John Hansen’s projections as of Thursday morning.
Note: These player previews were published on Thursday afternoon. Based on late news, the write-ups and rankings for the following players could change dramatically. Make sure you look for our Sunday morning updates and practice report updates.
- Ladarius Green
1. Jimmy Graham (Sea vs. Det, Sat. 8:15 p.m.)
Last five weeks: 14/217/2 receiving (25 targets), 9.5 FPG (13th)
Even though Graham slowed down coming down the stretch run, this is a prime spot for him to eviscerate one of the league’s worst defenses at home. Detroit finished the 2016 fantasy regular season allowing the second-most PPR points per target to opposing tight ends and were an abysmal fourth-from-last in DVOA versus the position. Matchup-wise, this really couldn’t get any better. Jimmy Graham is at home – where he has performed better all year – and his target share is completely locked-in now that Tyler Lockett (broken leg) is on the shelf. On days this year where Lockett sees four or fewer targets (or misses the game completely), Jimmy Graham averages 16.6 PPR points/game on 7.14 targets per game. When Lockett is active, Graham’s per game output (8.57) and targets (5.0) both dip significantly. Since salaries are tight on DFS sites this weekend, there is a real chance Graham goes far under-owned along with Russell Wilson.
Matchup: 5 Current Form: 3 History: 3 Role: 4 Injury status: N/A
2. Ladarius Green (Pit vs. Mia, Sun. 1:05 p.m.)
Last five weeks: 83/136 (63.2%), 1074 yards, 6 TDs, 6 INTs, 8/-8/0 rushing, 19.2 FPG (17th)
Pittsburgh’s passing offense potentially just got a lot more potent on Wednesday. Ladarius Green (concussion) practiced in full and is tracking towards a return in the Wild Card round. After missing Weeks 16-17, it looks like Green is going to clear through the concussion protocol in time to play on Sunday versus Miami. Prior to going down in the middle of Week 15’s contest versus the Bengals, Green was becoming an integral part of the Steelers’ attack. Not only were his snaps on the rise, he was on the field for the majority of Ben Roethlisberger’s drop backs in Weeks 13-15 (63% > 68% > 76%). Green has massive upside if he is on the field for well over 65% of Big Ben’s passing snaps against Miami. The Dolphins’ linebacking/safety corps finished the 2016 season allowing the seventh-most fantasy points/target plus the fourth-most points on a per reception basis to opposing tight ends. Health permitting, Jimmy Graham’s ceiling is only slightly higher than Ladarius Green’s in the Wild Card slate.
Matchup: 5 Current Form: N/A History: N/A Role: 4 Injury status: Questionable (concussion), but should be cleared to play.
3. C.J. Fiedorowicz (Hou vs. Oak, Sat. 4:35 p.m.)
Last five weeks: 15/130/1 receiving (30 targets), 8.5 FPG (19th)
Well luckily, or unluckily, depending on the way you view Brock Osweiler – C.J. Fiedorowicz has his starting quarterback again. The only reason it may be “lucky” is because Osweiler actually formed some semblance of “chemistry” with Fiedorowicz, combining for 4.36/46.7/0.36 receiving per game after the first three weeks of the season (Week 4-17). C.J. Fiedorowicz doesn’t have nearly the ceiling of Jimmy Graham and Ladarius Green, but he will go low-owned in a fairly strong spot on DFS sites. Oakland finished the 2016 regular season an unimposing 23rd in DVOA versus tight ends and allowed the ninth-most PPR points per target to the position. It’s also worth noting Fiedorowicz had 6/82 in this matchup versus Oakland in Week 11. Fiedorowicz doesn’t have a huge touchdown expectation, but the floor is solid for such a shallow position.
Matchup: 4 Current Form: 3 History: 4 Role: 3 Injury status: N/A
4. Eric Ebron (Det vs. Sea, Sat. 8:15 p.m.)
Last five weeks: 26/260/0 receiving (36 targets), 10.4 FPG (10th)
While there is no denying Ebron had a strong yardage floor in 2016, he owned one of the lowest touchdown expectations in the league. Eric Ebron caught four or more passes in 11-of-13 games and averaged a strong 55 yards/game among tight ends (seventh-most). Still, Ebron saw just nine red-zone targets and scored just one touchdown all year long. Tight ends are more dependent on red-zone scoring than wide receivers because of the routes they run. Instead of getting peppered with red-zone looks, veteran receiver Anquan Boldin saw a robust 24 red-zone targets during the regular season. Only two players saw more red-zone targets than Boldin did in 2016. At any rate, while Ebron’s role in Detroit’s offense is unquestioned, this is not a very enticing spot to get excited about Ebron’s potential ceiling. Seattle allowed the sixth-fewest fantasy points per target in 2016 and are last on the eight-team slate in yards/game allowed to the position.
Matchup: 2 Current Form: 3 History: 2 Role: 4 Injury status: N/A
5. Jared Cook (GB vs. NYG, Sun. 4:40 p.m.)
Last five weeks: 17/212/0 receiving (27 targets), 7.6 FPG (t-21st)
While the Giants are quite strong on the boundaries and in the slot versus wide receivers, they are fairly susceptible versus tight ends. This is one last chance for Jared Cook to disappoint us all. New York has been one of the strongest teams versus receivers – they have allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points per target to the position – they have struggled to cover tight ends as well. Jared Cook finished Green Bay’s final three games with 21 targets, seventh-most among tight ends in that span. The Giants’ yielded the fifth-most targets (8.70) and seventh-most yards (64.20) per game to opposing tight ends to close the fantasy regular season (Week 1-16). In theory, Aaron Rodgers could rely upon Cook in the better matchup. Still, Jimmy Graham and Ladarius Green are decidedly better plays in the Wild Card round.
Matchup: 2 Current Form: 3 History: 2 Role: 4 Injury status: N/A
6. Will Tye (NYG vs. GB, Sun. 4:40 p.m.)
Last five weeks: 17/136/0 receiving (22 targets), 6.1 FPG (31st)
Here is where the tight end position starts to fall apart for the Wild Card round. Will Tye failed to clear 40 yards receiving in 13-of-16 games this year and was held under 30 yards in 11-of-16 games. Tye has been on the field for 65-75% of the Giants’ snaps in every game since Week 9, but you wouldn’t know it. Tye’s high-water mark in that span (since Week 9) is 8.2 PPR points. Obviously, the major upside here is the matchup. Green Bay allowed 63 yards/game to enemy tight ends in the regular season, but there is no way you can trust Tye to push that number. Will Tye had 4 > 8 > 5 targets in his final three games but 25 > 23 > 47 yards in that span.
Matchup: 4 Current Form: 1 History: 2 Role: 2 Injury status: N/A
7. Dion Sims (Mia vs. Pit, Sun. 1:05 p.m.)
Last five weeks: 11/89/3 receiving (14 targets), 7.6 FPG (t-21st)
With 4 > 3 > 1 targets in three starts with Matt Moore under center, Sims can be largely ignored for DFS and playoff contests for the Wild Card Round. Dion Sims did have one random multi-score game against a dead Jets’ team in Week 15, but this is not a spot to get cute and flirt with a low-floor punt option. Tight end definitely isn’t strong this week, but it’s hard to find a good argument for playing Sims. The Steelers finished the 2016 season ranked 24th-of-32 in fantasy points allowed per target to tight ends and were a strong ninth in DVOA versus the position. We wouldn’t trot out Sims unless you’re in a deep playoff league where you can start two tight ends.
Matchup: 2 Current Form: 1 History: 2 Role: 1 Injury status: N/A
8. Clive Walford (Oak vs. Hou, Sat. 4:35 p.m.)
Last five weeks: 7/89/1 receiving (14 targets), 4.4 FPG (37th)
Playing with the Raiders’ third-string quarterback (Connor Cook) and splitting reps with Mychal Rivera, the Raiders’ tight ends can be ignored in the Wild Card round. Clive Walford has been held at or under three targets in five-straight games while Mychal Rivera has 2 > 0 > 3 targets in his last three games. Making matters worse here, the Texans’ are No. 1 in DVOA versus tight ends this year and allowed the second-fewest fantasy points per target to the position. There is no reason to roll with Walford or Rivera if you’re punting at tight end this weekend.
Matchup: 1 Current Form: 1 History: 2 Role: 1 Injury status: N/A