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Week 12 was the most disastrous week for tight ends in the NFL this season.
The body count was sky-high and littered with elite names. Seattle’s Jimmy Graham is out for the season with a knee injury, New England’s Rob Gronkowski is week-to-week with his own knee injury according to ESPN and Cincinnati’s Tyler Eifert’s status is unknown after suffering a stinger. Pittsburgh’s Heath Miller also left his game with a rib injury.
The waiver wire is producing plenty of tight end options late in the season, however. Philadelphia’s Brent Celek and Chicago’s Zach Miller were big pickups at the position last week and responded with touchdowns on Turkey Day. According to Craig,there are three more tight ends available in most leagues that could help you out if your starting TE was injured this past weekend. Here they are:
Week 13 Waiver Wire — Tight Ends (TE)
Scott Chandler (TE, NE) — 6% Owned in Fleaflicker
With Gronkowski possibly out this week due to his knee injury, and with the Patriots losing receivers quicker than the Philadelphia 76ers lose basketball games, Chandler not only becomes the top tight end in New England, he may become Tom Brady’s top target. Chandler led the Pats with 11 targets in their last game, and not all of those came after Gronk was injured.
It is not as if Chandler just fell off the turnip truck and into the NFL. The durable veteran had two six-TD seasons with the Buffalo Bills and has always been a decent No. 2 tight end for fantasy rosters until signing with the Patriots this season and getting stuck behind Gronkowski on the depth chart. The 30-year-old has life left in his legs, and with Brady throwing to him he will be a fantasy threat if Gronk is unable to suit up.
Chandler probably has the best matchup any tight end has this week. His Patriots host the laughable Philadelphia Eagles, who allowed Tampa Bay’s Jameis Winston and Detroit’s Matthew Stafford to each throw five touchdown passes against them in back-to-back weeks. The Eagles are covering receivers and tight ends as poorly as one sheet of toilet paper covers an entire toilet bowl.
With the status of Gronkowski and runty receiver Danny Amendola up in the air, and with slot star Julian Edelman on the shelf, chances are Chandler will be targeted early and often by Brady this weekend. And chances are Chandler will be open almost every time he runs a pass pattern thanks to Philadelphia’s cover-nobody pass defense. If you are a Gronk owner, Chandler is a no-brainer waiver wire pick.
Kyle Rudolph (TE, MIN) — 45% Owned in Fleaflicker
Quietly and quickly, Rudolph has become Teddy Bridgewater’s favorite pass catcher in Minnesota. While speedsters Mike Wallace and Cordarrelle Patterson have been stuck in the starting blocks all season long, the plodding Rudolph is now the one making big plays downfield. Wallace and Patterson could take some notes on Rudolph’s route running, that’s for sure.
Rudolph had been almost as non-existent as Wallace and Patterson for the bulk of the season, but over the past two weeks he has caught 13 passes for 159 yards and a touchdown. This comes on the heels of a seven-game stretch where Rudolph did not have more than two receptions in any contest. Not sure what flicked the switch on for Rudolph (or Bridgewater), but he picked the right time to go on a roll for fantasy owners.
Minnesota faces the Seattle Seahawks this Sunday in what should be a defensive battle with humongous playoff implications. And while trying to get open against Seattle’s “Legion of Boom” secondary is never easy, it has gotten easier this season. Just ask Pittsburgh, who just tore up the Boom boys for 480 passing yards this past weekend. Plus the game is in Minnesota, and Seattle’s staunch defense is not the same when the Seahawks don’t have their crazy crowd blistering opponents’ eardrums.
Look for Rudolph to be aimed at a lot by Bridgewater on Sunday and for the veteran tight end to put another solid effort for the Vikes and for any fantasy owner who picks him up this week.
Coby Fleener (TE, IND) — 52% Owned in Fleaflicker
It’s official! Matt Hasselbeck improves a tight end’s fantasy value more than Andrew Luck does. You think I’m kidding? Look no further than Fleener’s game-by-game log this season. In the four games Hasselbeck started, Fleener has averaged 4.2 catches for 41 yards per contest. In the games Luck started, Fleener has averaged 2.9 catches for 26.8 yards.
Fleener has been a fantasy flop this season, so it is mind-boggling that he is still owned in more than half of Fleaflicker leagues. But with Hasselbeck at the helm he is a little more worthy of a fantasy flier than he would be if Luck was healthy. The No. 1 thing that makes Fleener’s fantasy worth trend upward this week is the defense he will be facing, though.
Fleener is up against the Pittsburgh Steelers this Sunday night. You know, the same Steelers defense that Russell Wilson picked apart for 345 yards and five touchdown tosses this past weekend. The same Steelers defense that is ranked 30th against the pass. The same Steelers defense that probably makes Mel Blount and Donnie Shell want to bum rush the locker room and slap some sense into the subpar secondary.
Fleener is better off with Hasselbeck throwing to him than his former college teammate Luck. Not sure why or how, and not sure how long this will continue, but if you are short a tight end due to the injuries to Gronkowski, Graham or Eifert, Fleener can work for a week.