Welcome to Fantasy Football Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em Tight Ends edition for Week 12 of the NFL season. This edition features a former must-start eyeing a return to our lineups. Plus, one of the position’s highest scorers could have a difficult time living up to expectations with a grueling matchup on deck.
* Reminder: Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em is intended to present you with the non-obvious choices for your fantasy lineup. We dig deep into player matchups, scoring trends, and other factors to best help you with your fantasy decisions. Superstars such as Travis Kelce will not be found in this column. If you’re looking for players of such caliber check out our weekly fantasy football tight end rankings.
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TE: Start ‘Em
Start of the Week: Austin Hooper at JAC
Hooper has struggled to regain the production he had prior to his appendectomy. Hooper scored double-digit points in three straight games before his surgery. Since then, he’s scored a total of 8.4 with zero TDs. Well, good news, the Jaguars have allowed eight TDs to TEs this year (t-most in NFL), including five over their last six games.
Evan Engram at CIN
Engram has scored 10.90-plus points and received nine-plus targets in three of his last four games. The Bengals allow the (tied) third-most targets and fourth-most receiving yards to TEs this season. TEs have received 10 red zone touches against Cincinnati this year, tied for fifth-most in football.
Zach Ertz vs. SEA
A week ago Eagles head coach Doug Pederson noted that Ertz “probably needs a little more time,” per NBC Sports Philadelphia’s Reuben Frank. Is a week enough time? If so, he becomes a top-12 play at a position in desperate need of consistency. Even in Ertz’s absence, the Eagles’ passing game has shifted towards a more TE-heavy focus, with Dallas Goedert and Richard Rodgers both ranking within the top-six scorers at the position over the last two weeks. Seattle is not typically all too welcoming to TEs. With that said, their secondary has been roasted in general, allowing the most passing yards in football. If Philly is going to produce through the air, it’ll likely come by featuring their TEs.
Sleeper: Tyler Eifert vs. CLE
Digging deep here, as Eifert has not scored double-digit points since Week 2. Yet, he has seen 14 targets over the last three games. More importantly, no team has allowed more fantasy points to TEs over the last three weeks than Cleveland, which includes three different TEs finding the end zone.
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TE: Sit ‘Em
Sit of the Week: Jordan Akins at DET
Akins exploded for a season-high in points (13.3) and yards (83) a week ago, numbers that will likely remain season-highs after this week is concluded. The Lions allow the second-fewest receptions and yards to the position this season. Houston is known for their inconsistent use of their TEs.
Jimmy Graham at GB
Since Week 3, Graham has eclipsed 34 receiving yards just once. Yes, Green Bay did allow two TDs to TEs a week ago. However, Graham has scored just one TD since Week 6. The Bears QB situation is unknown at the moment, not that any specific signal-caller would ease your concerns for Graham moving forward.
Jared Cook at DEN
Cook has fallen off the radar of late, failing to score more than 3.6 points in three straight games. Even worse, his target share has dropped exponentially since the return of Michael Thomas. Cook has received a total of six targets over the last three games. The Broncos have not surrendered a TD to a TE since Week 1.
Buyers Beware: Jonnu Smith at IND
Since Week 9, Smith is your fifth-highest scoring player at the position, averaging 10.9 ppg. Yet, that is mainly due to his knack for finding the end zone, something that could be difficult to come by against a Colts defense that has allowed just one TD to a TE all year. Smith has averaged just two receptions over his last six games.