Jesse Pantuosco (@JessePantuosco): Alright guys, we haven’t talked about tight ends in a while. With Rob Gronkowski out for the year and Jordan Reed banged up (not to mention that Greg Olsen has disappeared over the last six weeks), I think now would be an appropriate time to revisit what could be the shallowest position in fantasy football.
The fantasy playoffs are upon us, so we need someone who can really bring it. If you’re going the streaming route (we’re not all lucky enough to have Travis Kelce), there’s plenty to consider. Cameron Brate, Dennis Pitta and Dwayne Allen are all coming off huge weeks while C.J. Fiedorowicz and Zach Ertz have been consistent target hogs for their respective teams. Even Coby Fleener and Martellus Bennett, who both have seen their roles increase due to injuries, could be worth monitoring. So point me in a direction, guys. Who do we like down the stretch?
Rich Hribar (@LordReebs): LADARIUS!!!!!!
That is all.
Raymond Summerlin (@RMSummerlin): Even though it is a daunting task, I will expand a bit on Rich’s answer. LADARIUS!!!!!!’s big game was obviously noteworthy, but the underlying usage numbers have me more excited about his outlook moving forward. His snap totals are on a clear upward trend the last two weeks and he continues to run routes on the vast majority of his snaps, meaning almost every time he is on the field he has an opportunity for a target. With basically nothing behind Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell in the passing game, LADARIUS!!!!!! should see a healthy target share down the stretch and he has a favorable schedule aside from Baltimore in Week 16. Green is going to be a top-10 play the rest of the way.
I continue to like Fiedorowicz quite a bit. He does not have the ceiling of a high-end option, but his target total is fairly reliable because he runs routes in the only part of the field Brock Osweiler can complete passes. His matchup with the Jaguars next week is not exciting, but he gets the Colts on Sunday and the Bengals in Week 16. Indy ranks ninth in points allowed to tight ends and the Bengals give up the second-most points to the position. If anyone in this offense is going to catch passes and score fantasy points down the stretch, it is likely going to be Fiedorowicz.
Patrick Daugherty (@RotoPat): Ladarius Green has played 54 passing-down snaps. He's been asked to block on one of them. The Steelers have badly needed a weapon behind Antonio Brown and Green looks poised to be it. He's essentially the Steelers' No. 2 receiver at this point.
Jermaine Gresham is looking like a bit of a life-hack if you need someone to throw at the wall in a deeper PPR league. Carson Palmer, who seems to have lost a ton of arm strength, is focusing almost exclusively on the middle of the field. Gresham has been one of his primary targets over the past few weeks. There's obviously not a ton of upside here, but Gresham could basically be a poor man's C.J. Fiedorowicz. That's not nothing at a time of year where some teams are basically looking for anyone with a pulse.
Evan Silva (@evansilva): Cameron Brate is quietly fifth among all NFL tight ends in red-zone targets and has a sexy fantasy playoff schedule against the Cowboys and Saints (twice). The latter two games will be played indoors. Brate's opportunity is also enhanced by continued injuries to the Bucs’ receiving corps. Brate should be locked in as the Bucs' No. 2 pass option the rest of the way.
Jermaine Gresham is a legit streamer in a Cardinals offense that seems to have finally realized it can't throw deep. Seeing a big jump in targets and routes run recently, Gresham is a between-the-numbers possession target in an increasingly between-the-numbers passing game.
Coby Fleener's playing time dipped below 25% in Week 12, playing behind Josh Hill. As Hill left last week's game early with a broken leg, Fleener’s snap count soared to near 70% and he saw a seven-week high in targets. We are all well aware by now of Fleener's deficiencies. We also need to be aware of his growing role in a fast-paced, high-octane offense with an elite quarterback. When he catches it, Fleener can make big plays most other tight ends can't.
Daugherty: "Sexy" and "Cameron Brate" in the same sentence. Our work here is done.
Jeff Brubach (@Jeff_Brubach): I'm a fan of using Cameron Brate for the remainder of the fantasy playoffs. Evan mentioned the friendly schedule awaiting the Bucs over the next three weeks. While fantasy owners have been eyeing this stretch in hopes of raking in huge point totals from Jameis Winston and Mike Evans, the same can certainly be expected of Brate with Tampa Bay's receiving corps in dire straits. After all, we can't count on Freddie Martino to shred the New Orleans secondary on his own.
Pantuosco: Reebs used six exclamation points for those of you keeping track. I could get on board with Ladarius and Brate as well, but since we covered those, I’ll add another name to the mix. Zach Ertz is coming off a nine-catch, 15-target game in Week 13. Obviously those numbers were boosted by the absence of Jordan Matthews, but even with Matthews healthy, Ertz has still been getting a decent target share. He’s drawn at least seven targets in four of his last five outings and has found the end zone in two of his last three.
Ertz’s situation is similar to the one Brate has in Tampa. There’s just nobody else to throw to in Philadelphia. Nelson Agholor and Dorial Green-Beckham are both terrible and I doubt Paul Turner (80 yards last week!) is the answer the Eagles are looking for. Judging by the last few weeks, rookie signal-caller Carson Wentz is starting to lose confidence. Usually the best remedy for that is getting the ball out quickly and throwing a lot of short passes. That’s basically been Ertz’s job description since coming to Philadelphia. As far as tight end streamers go, Ertz is definitely near the top of my list.