Though it might not seem like it, 2019 has been a really good year for tight ends. Despite losing long-time anchor Rob Gronkowski to retirement, mainstays like Travis Kelce, George Kittle and Zach Ertz continued to represent the top-end of the position with pride; while newcomers like Darren Waller, Mark Andrews and Mike Gesicki showed more than enough promise to give the impression of talent for years to come. Are TEs still fantasy’s most inconsistent commodity? Most definitely. Yet, simultaneously, it truly feels like we’re seeing the position at its deepest in some time.
Which tight ends are set to finish the season strong? Let’s break it all down for Week 17.
Tight End Starts
Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles
Goedert is coming off what was arguably the best game of his professional life in a must-win spot against the Cowboys. The sophomore set new career-highs in targets (12), receptions (9) and snap share (90.3%), as the Eagles continue to lose skill-position players seemingly by the second. JJ Arcega-Whiteside, one of only three wide receivers who even dressed for Philadelphia last Sunday, was forced to leave the eventual victory after re-aggravating a foot issue and, more importantly, Zach Ertz’s Week 17 status is up in the air following a fractured rib. However, even if the Pro Bowler is able to give it a go versus the Giants, Goedert’s production shouldn’t be in doubt. Honestly, I’d anticipate double-digit targets once again.
Hunter Henry, Los Angeles Chargers
Henry’s value has taken a bit of a nosedive since a very successful month of October, yet, if there was ever a matchup that could turn his fortune around, it’s Kansas City. Though the overall numbers have dipped slightly after the Chiefs’ recent matchups with the Patriots and the Bears - two teams that struggle to feature their TEs - no squad in the NFL has given up more targets per game to the position so far in 2019 (9.1). With Henry still logging a majority of the Chargers’ offensive snaps each and every week, I’d expect him to benefit from a similar amount of volume as he did in Week 11, a contest where the Arkansas product hauled in six of his nine targets for 69 yards versus this same Kansas City secondary.
Tight End Sits
Jacob Hollister, Seattle Seahawks
After not taking advantage of the easiest tight end matchup imaginable, Hollister is probably out of the circle of trust for a majority of fantasy owners. However, the diminishing returns had actually started well before last Sunday’s underwhelming performance against the Cardinals. Dating back to the beginning of Week 12, Hollister is averaging a putrid 1.94 PPR points per touch - by far the lowest output among all 16 tight ends who have managed 20-plus targets within that span of time. Honestly, it’s not all that hard to trace Hollister’s struggles, either. He has not found the end zone for five-straight contests and in that same stretch, he’s produced a lowly 6.9 yards per target. That’s not going to cut it against a defense as stout as San Francisco’s.
Kaden Smith, New York Giants
Smith’s been one of the more fun stories at the position this season, thriving in an emergency role for the Giants as a rookie sixth-round pick. Heck, the 22-year-old is directly on the heels of a two-touchdown performance against Washington just last weekend. Still, that doesn’t necessarily imply future productivity and the Eagles haven’t been overly gracious towards opposing TEs the last half of the year. To that point, going back to Week 9, Philadelphia’s actually surrendered the fewest targets to tight ends of any team in football (30). The Eagles’ passing defense has definitely been more susceptible on the road in 2019, yet I’d still be cautious using the Stanford graduate.