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There are no more byes to worry about, boys and girls. All healthy tight ends will be on the field this week and ready to rack up yards and touchdowns for their fantasy owners. So combing your league’s waiver wire for a decent tight end is probably not as necessary as it has been over the last six weeks.
But you might be the not-so-proud owner of the slumping Jimmy Graham, the unproductive Jared Cook or the unpredictable Jacob Tamme and looking for an upgrade as your fantasy league enters its crucial stretch before the playoffs. Here are three tight ends you can pick up if you own one of these jokers or do not like your starting tight end’s matchup this week. These are Craig’s Must Haves for week 12.
Week 12 Waiver Wire — Tight Ends (TE)
Brent Celek (TE, PHI) — 7% Owned in Fleaflicker
I featured San Francisco’s Garrett Celek, Brent’s little brother, in last week’s column. I also featured Zach Ertz, Brent’s teammate, in the column. And yet here we are, one week later, and the spotlight now shines on Brent.
Celek had been a fantasy zero for most of the season. If you took out the back-to-back games in October when Celek scored touchdowns, in his six other games he caught three passes. Many top tight ends catch three passes in one quarter or one half. This is why Celek’s percentage owned is in single digits.
But Celek is back on the fantasy map after catching 11 passes for 213 yards over his last two outings. At the ripe old age of 30 he is averaging 15.8 yards per catch and is suddenly clicking in an offense that had virtually ignored him for most of the season. 2015 has been the year for veteran tight ends to find a second wind. Just ask Benjamin Watson owners.
Ertz was concussed after landing on the back of his neck and head in Philadelphia’s last game, so the chances of him being ready and cleared in four days seem slim. That means Celek could be targeted for more passes this Thursday than he has at any juncture this year.
Philadelphia plays at Detroit to kick off the Thanksgiving slate. The Lions are 19th in the NFL against the pass and coming off two nice defensive efforts against the Oakland Raiders and Green Bay Packers, but they have allowed touchdowns to tight ends in three of their last four games and have had secondary breakdowns all season long. Celek would be my first choice if I needed a tight end this week.
Vernon Davis (TE, DEN) — 44% Owned in Fleaflicker
Looks like Davis is grasping Denver’s playbook! He is coming off his best game of the 2015 campaign after catching six passes for 68 yards against the Chicago Bears. And even with fellow tight end Owen Daniels also contributing four passes for 69 yards for the Broncos, Davis was still able to have a solid game thanks to wideout Emmanuel Sanders missing the contest due to finger and ankle injuries.
Davis does not have Peyton Manning throwing to him — and that’s a good thing! Yes, it’s sadly true. Manning has done no favors for his teammates’ fantasy values this season, and he has not made the tight ends around him into fantasy superstars since Dallas Clark and he had some chemistry during their time together in Indianapolis. Right now, a healthy and young Brock Osweiler is better for Davis than an old and banged-up Manning.
Davis’ Broncos play on Sunday night against the defending Super Bowl champion New England Patriots in a battle between arguably the two top teams in the AFC. While the Pats have allowed some touchdowns to tight ends this season, including recently to Washington’s Jordan Reed, the most yards they have allowed was when Pittsburgh’s Heath Miller had 84 yards all the way back on the opening night of the season. So Davis having 35 yards and a touchdown against the Patriots is more likely than him having his first 100-yard-game of 2015.
Davis is not the same player he was in 2013 when he scored 13 times. He has lost some spring in his legs, so he is not the gamebreaker he used to be when he could sprint down the middle on seem patterns or jump for lofted passes on fade patterns in the end zone. But Davis still has more left in his legs than most other tight ends available in fantasy leagues, and with a healthy quarterback throwing to him and a better understanding of his new teams’ plays, Davis can help you this week.
Zach Miller (TE, CHI) — 10% Owned in Fleaflicker
We all waited one week to jump aboard the Miller bandwagon after he shocked the fantasy nation with his 107 yards and two touchdowns two weeks ago. There was no reason to think that performance was anything other than an aberration, no different than how we would think about a Geno Smith five-TD game or an Aaron Rodgers five-INT fiasco.
But Miller followed his breakout game with a workmanlike three receptions for 47 yards against Denver this past Sunday. Over his last three contests he has 10 catches for 177 yards and three touchdowns, so it appears he is not a fluke. Jay Cutler continues to throw in his direction, and Miller continues to get open and make plays.
What makes no sense is that Martellus Bennett, Chicago’s best tight end and one of the better ones to own in fantasy, is not injured, has not retired and is not on vacation. Bennett is on the field with Miller, yet Miller has been the more valuable tight end lately as Bennett only has 13 receptions for 101 yards and one TD over the same three-week span.
Chicago plays archrival Green Bay on Thanksgiving, and the Packers just allowed Minnesota’s Kyle Rudolph to scorch them for 106 yards and a touchdown this past weekend. Rudolph only had one 50-yard game on the season coming into Sunday, so Green Bay’s coverage should be called into question. If the Thanksgiving meeting turns into a shootout as so many Bears-Packers games do, Miller could do some fantasy damage.
Chicago’s Alshon Jeffery missed Chicago’s last game due to injuries and may not play on Turkey Day, which could open up more targets and opportunities for Miller. Miller is a feast or famine waiver pick as his emergence these last three weeks has been unpredictable, but if you are in a tight end pinch than picking him up is an option.