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Fantasy Football: Week 5 Tight End Matchup Report

Here is a complete list of tight ends who caught touchdown passes in Week 4: Tyler Kroft (two), Travis Kelce, Cameron Brate, A.J. Derby, O.J. Howard, James Hanna, Hunter Henry, Rhett Ellison, and Luke Willson. Not exactly a who’s who of tight ends, is it? Tight ends are more touchdown dependent than any other position in fantasy football. Ellison finished as a TE1 despite finishing tied for 44th among tight ends in yardage. Only Willson failed to finish as a TE1 after scoring a touchdown in Week 4. No one can predict who will score a fluky touchdown in any given week. Matchups and projected volume are still the most important factors in forecasting fantasy success. Let’s take a look at the tight end matchups for Week 5 to see where we can possibly gain some advantages.


Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers vs. New England Patriots – I had Cameron Brate in this space last week, as well, and had to laugh when O.J. Howard caught a 58-yard touchdown pass in the first quarter of Tampa Bay’s victory against the New York Giants. Brate eventually made his presence known, however. He caught a touchdown pass of his own and ended up with 80 receiving yards, finishing as the overall TE3 for the week. Brate is currently the overall TE8 despite playing only three games. Tampa Bay now faces the New England Patriots. New England’s pass defense has been abysmal, and they have certainly struggled against tight ends. They allowed a tight end to catch a touchdown pass in each of the first three games, then ceded 62 yards to Ed Dickson in Week 4. Those 62 yards are the most Dickson has had in a game since 2012. The Buccaneers will certainly need to put up points to keep up with New England, and I see Brate being a large part of their game plan. I look for Cameron Brate to finish as a TE1 for the third consecutive week in Week 5.

Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers at New York Giants – You may not know this, but I am not the world’s biggest Hunter Henry fan from a fantasy standpoint. He and O.J. Howard were the two tight ends I wanted zero shares of given their draft prices. But matchups are matchups, and there’s not a better one on the board this week than Hunter Henry’s. The New York Giants started the season by giving up a touchdown catch to tight ends in each of their first three games, giving up an average of 55 yards per game in the process. They then decided to double down in Week 4, allowing both O.J. Howard and Cameron Brate to catch touchdown passes in Week 4. So far this season, there have been 23 instances in which a tight end accumulated at least 40 receiving yards and caught a touchdown pass. Five of them have occurred against the New York Giants. I normally don’t like to chase touchdowns with low-volume players, but Henry’s matchup is simply too good to ignore. I would start him with confidence in Week 5.

Jared Cook, Oakland Raiders vs. Baltimore Ravens – I want to state for the record that I do not personally know Jared Cook, and I have no stock whatsoever in his success. I only point that out because this is Jared Cook’s fourth straight appearance in this column. It’s likely more a byproduct of trying not to feature “obvious” starters such as Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce. Steering the Jared Cook bandwagon hasn’t exactly panned out this far (weekly finishes of TE29, TE7, and TE20), but his volume has remained relatively high. He had eight targets last week, trailing only Evan Engram among tight ends. This week he faces the Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore gave up a whopping 182 yards and four touchdowns to the likes of Seth DeValve, David Njoku, Randall Telfer, Marcedes Lewis, and James O’Shaughnessy in Weeks 2 and 3. They were a bit better in Week 4, but mainly because Pittsburgh led virtually the whole way and took the air out of the football. With E.J. Manuel at the helm for Oakland, I expect a lot of short, high-percentage throws. Cook should once again see a healthy number of targets this week. I believe he is a top-10 option with top-five upside in Week 5.


Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys vs. Green Bay Packers – No player has epitomized the ups and downs of fantasy football quite like Jason Witten thus far in 2017. Through four games, Witten ranks as the overall TE5, but his weekly output has been wildly inconsistent. His weekly finishes are TE3, TE3, TE51, and TE48. It’s kind of amazing that he’s still a top-five tight end on the season given his last two weeks. Needless to say, his production has been trending in the wrong direction recently, and I expect that to continue in Week 5. Witten and the Dallas Cowboys take on the Green Bay Packers. So far this season, Green Bay has allowed just 106 scoreless receiving yards to opposing tight ends. We’ve seen over the last two weeks that Witten’s floor is extremely low. I do expect Witten to improve upon his last two weeks of production, but I just cannot trust him as a viable option this week.

Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings at Chicago Bears – Kyle Rudolph has not lived up to expectations so far in 2017. It would be easy to blame Vikings’ quarterback Sam Bradford’s injury for Rudolph’s slow start, but Minnesota’s passing offense has remained a force to be reckoned with. The Vikings are seventh in the league in passing yards and fifth in yards per passing attempt. Minnesota has made a concerted effort to feature wide receivers Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, thus rendering Rudolph more of an afterthought. Rudolph led the team with 8.3 targets per game in 2016, but he has averaged just 3.8 targets per game so far this season. Minnesota takes on the Chicago Bears this week. Since allowing a somewhat fluky 88-yard touchdown catch to Austin Hooper in Week 1, Chicago has ceded just 105 total receiving yards to the tight end position over its past three games. Sam Bradford’s potential return could improve Rudolph’s Week 5 prospects, but with the Vikings playing on Monday night, owners may not know Bradford’s status before league deadlines. As things currently stand, I’d stay away from Rudolph in Week 5.

Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts vs. San Francisco 49ers – Jack Doyle was a popular fantasy sleeper this year, but it has not panned out to this point. Doyle has gained only 42 yards over his last two games. He also has still has not scored a touchdown this season. Andrew Luck is still likely a couple of weeks away from returning, so Doyle’s fantasy breakout will likely remain on hold for the time being. Doyle is scheduled to face the San Francisco 49ers on Sunday. I say “scheduled to,” because Doyle is currently in the NFL’s concussion protocol. As it stands, the matchup itself is quite difficult. San Francisco has given up an NFL-low 77 receiving yards to opposing tight ends in 2017. They have not allowed a tight end to score a touchdown or eclipse 25 yards in any game this season. Doyle’s health is a major question mark, and he is facing an improving defense. That combination makes him an easy fade this week.


Austin Seferian-Jenkins, New York Jets at Cleveland Browns – Austin Seferian-Jenkins has had a modicum of success upon returning from a two-game suspension. He has caught nine of ten targets for 77 yards in two games. His 77 yards rank him 13th among tight ends over the last two weeks. This week he takes on a Cleveland Browns defense that has been absolutely dreadful against tight ends so far in 2017. Cleveland allowed 112 yards to Ravens’ tight ends in Week 2 and also allowed both Jesse James and Tyler Kroft to catch multiple touchdowns passes. Cleveland has also permitted an NFL-worst 81.1 completion percentage on passes to tight ends thus far this season. Seferian-Jenkins could very well be the next tight end to benefit from Cleveland’s struggling defense. The release of tight end Will Tye only strengthens Seferian-Jenkins’ grip on the starting tight end job. He may not be the safest choice on the board this week, but Seferian-Jenkins is in a prime position to put up some big numbers in this matchup.

Antonio Gates, Los Angeles Chargers at New York Giants – If you’ve read this far, I’m going to assume you already read the Hunter Henry paragraph. Therefore, I will try not to repeat myself too much. However, I will suggest that Antonio Gates be started wherever possible this week. In fact, if I owned both Hunter Henry and Antonio Gates, I’d prefer to start Gates this week. Gates has been the more consistent of the two Chargers’ tight ends, having been targeted at least three times in each game so far this season. Henry, on the other hand, has already had two games in which he was not targeted at all. Gates has also out-targeted Henry three to one within their opponent’s ten-yard line this season. Given the Giants’ struggles in keeping tight ends out of the end zone, this could tip the scales in Gates’ favor. Gates isn’t likely to gain a lot of yards, but he is a pretty good bet to get into the zone this week. As outlined earlier, that’s almost always enough to earn a TE1 ranking in any given week. Fire up Antonio Gates in Week 5.

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