5 TE Opportunity Notes: Week 14
After a slow few weeks at the position, a number of tight ends posted solid games in Week 13, headlined by Travis Kelce’s massive 165 yards and two scores. While Kelce can erupt in any given week, we're always looking for the lesser-known tight ends who could out-perform expectation. Here are the major trends heading into Week 14 at the TE position.
Following a season-ending injury to Greg Olsen, Ian Thomas once again stepped in as the Panthers’ every-down tight end.
With Olsen leaving the game early, Thomas played 76% of the Panthers’ snaps and received 5 targets. In Olsen’s absence earlier this season, the former Indiana Hoosier averaged 80% of the snaps and 4.3 targets per game.
Promising for Thomas, the rookie ran an impressive 35 routes on Sunday, opening the door for additional usage in the passing game.
While Thomas only saw 28 air yards in Week 13, his increased usage keeps him in play as a tight end streamer at fantasy’s bleakest position.
In a small sample, Jeff Driskel has shown an affinity for the tight end position, targeting C.J. Uzomah 16 times.
In the last two weeks, Uzomah has a monstrous 18 targets and 76 air yards, good for a 23% target share and 15% air yards share on Cincinnati. This massive target share also ranks third among TEs during this span.
Uzomah has played on 100%, 100%, and 99% of the Bengals’ snaps the past three weeks, with route totals of 33, 51, and 37.
While the Auburn-product has turned this usage into a measly 72 receiving yards, his floor remains too tantalizing. Most tight ends simply aren’t seeing this kind of volume, keeping Uzomah locked in as a weekly starter.
Eli Manning’s struggles have been well documented this season, with seemingly only Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley producing at a consistent level. However, with Evan Engram unable to practice or play last week, Rhett Ellison stepped in and received a surprising amount of volume.
Shockingly, Ellison’s 13 targets the past two weeks ranks second behind only Beckham on the Giants. He also notched a healthy 104 air yards, providing the perfect safety blanket for Manning’s multitude of check-downs.
With Engram out or injured, the former USC Trojan’s snap share has increased each of the last three weeks (75%, 89%, 94%). In Week 13, Ellison also ran the third most routes on the Giants’ offense (30).
While Ellison remains far from a preferred play this week, his increased role on the Giants’ offense keeps him in play as a streamer.
A hot waiver wire name, game script did not do Matt LaCosse any favors as the Broncos dismantled the Cincinnati Bengals last week. LaCosse received only one target and failed to record a single catch.
However, this game featured only 21 pass attempts from Case Keenum (12 of which he completed). Courtland Sutton and Emmanuel Sanders received 7 and 6 targets respectively, but no other Broncos player received more than 2 targets.
The Broncos play the 49ers, the Browns, and the Raiders the next three weeks. The 49ers just lost tight end stopper Jaquiski Tartt to injury and both the Browns and the Raiders rank in the bottom-half of yards allowed to the tight end position.
Prior to last week, Keenum had targeted tight ends on 22% of his throws. LaCosse had 4 targets, 3 catches, and 34 yards on a 47% snap rate in Week 12. Last week, LaCosse’s snap share rose to 80%, providing a path to fantasy success.
It might be a tough decision to make, but Matt LaCosse deserves another chance as a Week 14 streamer, especially after the report of Sanders' Achilles injury.
In his first game since Jack Doyle landed on injured reserve, Eric Ebron again saw massive usage. Helping his cause, Mo Alie-Cox also missed this game with an injury.
Playing against a fierce Jacksonville Jaguars’ defense, Ebron recorded a season-high, 16 targets, along with 75 air yards on a massive 45 routes run.
This usage falls right in line with his deployment in the five-game stretch without Doyle in the middle of the season. During that time, the former North Carolina Tarheel saw the second-most targets (50), the most air yards (482), and the most red zone targets (17) in the league among tight ends. He also averaged a healthy 36 routes per game with Doyle on the shelf.
While Ebron is often considered a tick below options like Travis Kelce and Zach Ertz, he very much deserves every-week starter status in all fantasy leagues.