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Fantasy Football: Week 6 Tight End Matchup Report

In Week 4, Ed Dickson had 62 receiving yards. It was his highest total in any game since 2012. Despite becoming the de facto starting tight end for the Carolina Panthers in the wake of Greg Olsen breaking his foot, Dickson’s Week 4 output seemed a bit unsustainable. About that … not only did Dickson improve upon his Week 4 production in Week 5, he nearly tripled it. He recorded a career-high 175 receiving yards. Not only was it a career-high for Dickson, it was the sixth-most receiving yards by a tight end in a single game since 1999. Ironically enough, Olsen has the third-most yards by a tight end in that timeframe, accomplishing the feat almost a year to the day prior to Dickson’s outburst. Dickson now ranks fourth in the NFL among tight ends in receiving yards despite only being targeted 14 times, and also despite being Ed Dickson. Welcome to 2017.

As we look forward to Week 6, it’s notable that each of the four teams who are on a bye this week (Buffalo, Cincinnati, Dallas, and Seattle) has a top-20 tight end this season. Of course, with this being such a strange season in many ways, Seattle’s Jimmy Graham ranks the lowest of the four (overall TE #19) and Cincinnati’s representative from the group is Tyler Kroft, and not Tyler Eifert. Buffalo’s Charles Clay, who currently ranks as the overall TE #5, will miss not only Week 6, but could be out for a month after having arthroscopic surgery on his knee on Monday. Many owners have had to dig deeper than expected into the player pool to find reliable tight end production on a consistent basis. To illustrate just how murky that tight end pool is, consider that Austin Seferian-Jenkins is currently ranked as a consensus top-5 option at tight end this week despite tallying just 106 receiving yards in 2017. Let’s focus on some of the matchups to help determine where we might find some of Week 6’s hidden gems at tight end.


Evan Engram, New York Giants at Denver Broncos – Evan Engram began his NFL career with at least four catches and 40 yards in four straight games. He crashed back down to Earth in Week 5, as he failed to catch a single pass in New York’s Week 5 loss against the Los Angeles Chargers. Week 6 presents a unique opportunity for Engram to bounce back in a huge way. First, his matchup against the Denver Broncos is not one to fear. Denver has given up the seventh-most fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends. Perhaps even more important for Engram’s prospects both in Week 6 and beyond is the fact that the Giants wide receiving corps was absolutely decimated by injuries in Week 5. Three of their wide receivers were lost for the season due to injuries, including Odell Beckham and Brandon Marshall. This leaves a large amount of receiving production up for grabs. Engram stands to benefit just as much as Sterling Shepard and Roger Lewis, if not more. Given the circumstances, I think it’s very possible Engram is targeted more than any tight end in football this week. That potential workload makes him a must-start in all formats in Week 6.

George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers at Washington Redskins – George Kittle had been a bit of a disappoint through the first quarter of his rookie season, but he broke out in a big way in San Francisco’s overtime loss at Indianapolis. He caught a season-high seven passes and matched his total yardage through four games with 83 yards in Week 5. In particular, quarterback Brian Hoyer exhibited great confidence in Kittle during San Francisco’s game-tying touchdown drive late in the fourth quarter. Kittle was targeted six times and caught five passes during that drive for 73 yards, including the tying score. He looks to build on that in Week 6 when he takes on the Washington Redskins. Washington has struggled to cover tight ends so far this season. They have allowed 361 receiving yards to opposing tight ends, which is the fourth-most in the NFL. This is particularly noteworthy considering Washington has already had their bye week. Their 90.3 yards per game allowed to tight ends is far and away the highest in the league. I like Kittle to have another big performance and finish Week 6 as a TE1 for the second straight week.

A.J. Derby, Denver Broncos vs. New York GiantsA.J. Derby had a career-high 75 yards and his first NFL touchdown against the Oakland Raiders in Denver’s last game before their bye week. This week, the Broncos will play host to the New York Giants. Derby may not be a household name, but he has the best matchup on the board in Week 6. The Giants have been absolutely abused by opposing tight ends this season like no other team in the NFL. I threw out this stat last week, but it bears updating since it occurred once again – there have been 29 instances this season in which a tight end has caught a touchdown pass and had at least 40 receiving yards in the same game. SIX of these 29 occurrences have taken place against the New York Giants, including at least one in every single week. If you’re streaming tight ends, or if your tight end is injured or on a bye, A.J. Derby makes for an ideal fill-in in this juicy matchup.


Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings v. Green Bay PackersKyle Rudolph had his best game of the season in Minnesota’s Week 5 victory. He matched his season-high with 45 yards and caught his second touchdown pass of the year. He had season-highs of six receptions and nine targets, and his season-long prospects look to be improved by the unfortunate injury to Vikings’ running back Dalvin Cook. However, I’m not sure that will be enough to catapult Rudolph back into automatic weekly starter quite yet. This week the Vikings face the Green Bay Packers. Green Bay has allowed just 33.4 yards per game to opposing tight ends and is one of just five teams to have not allowed a tight end to score yet in 2017. Kyle Rudolph looks to once again be a season-long fantasy TE1, and he has some very favorable matchups on the horizon. However, I’m not sure I would start him in Week 6 against Green Bay. Expectations for Kyle Rudolph should definitely be tempered in this matchup.

Jordan Reed, Washington Redskins vs. San Francisco 49ers – Optimistic fantasy owners who have Jordan Reed on their teams will point to Washington’s Week 5 bye week as Reed’s best opportunity to get his body as close to 100% as he has been all season. That may be true, but I’m not sure one week will cure all of Reed’s physical maladies. Reed has been dealing with chest and shoulder injuries this season, as well as a broken toe he suffered nearly three months ago. Despite the week off, I’m not convinced Reed’s health will permit him to absorb a full complement of snaps quite yet. This week Reed faces the San Francisco 49ers. San Francisco’s defense has been much better than last year’s unit and has kept the 49ers in a lot of football games. They’ve also been the NFL’s best defense against tight ends this season. Tight ends have just 14 catches and 107 scoreless yards against San Francisco in 2017. Reed’s name value will likely thrust him into most owners’ lineups, but I don’t believe it’s warranted. I would wait a week and see how Reed responds in this difficult matchup before inserting him into my lineups.

Jared Cook, Oakland Raiders vs. Los Angeles Chargers – I am officially off the Jared Cook bandwagon, at least for this week. Cook takes on the Los Angeles Chargers in Week 6. Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr is expected to return after missing Week 5 due to a back injury. Even if Carr does return, I’m not sure it will help Cook much in this game. The Chargers held New York Giants’ rookie tight end Evan Engram without a single catch last week. Los Angeles also limited Kansas City Chiefs’ tight end Travis Kelce to just one catch for one yard in Week 3. Cook is difficult to trust as a reliable fantasy starter regardless of his opponent, as he has yet to produce consistently even in favorable matchups. He has reached 50 yards just once on the year and has only one touchdown catch to his credit. With the Chargers’ ability to shut down tight ends and with Oakland still struggling offensively, Cook is a fade for me in Week 6.


Zach Miller, Chicago Bears at Baltimore Ravens – The Chicago Bears officially ushered in the Mitchell Trubisky era in Monday night’s loss. Though Trubisky threw what turned out to be essentially a game-ending interception, the rookie showed some flashes in his NFL debut. He also targeted Zach Miller a team-high seven times, and Miller was on the receiving end of Trubisky’s first NFL touchdown pass. The Bears now head to Baltimore to take on the Ravens. The Ravens have shown a propensity to give up production to opposing tight ends. Most notably, they were the victims of Marcedes Lewis’ three-touchdown game in London in Week 3. Because the Bears have such limited perimeter options in the passing game, I think Trubisky will continue to pepper Miller with passes. With the Bears listed as a huge Vegas underdog, Trubisky figures to throw the ball more than the 25 times he aired it out on Monday night. I expect Zach Miller to be heavily involved in Chicago’s game plan in this game, and I think he makes for a fine Week 6 tight end streaming option.

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