The playoffs are in just a few weeks for most fantasy football managers, making now as good as a time as ever to pick up a quality tight end to earn a key win late in the season.
Whether you’re trying to guarantee yourself a first-round bye or looking for your first win of the season, having a quality tight end can help maximize your lineup’s potential, and can be a safety net if one of your workhouse running backs or wide receivers posts a disappointing performance.
2020 has been one of the deepest years for tight ends from a fantasy football perspective in recent memory, so even if you aren’t one of the lucky general managers who have drafted Kansas City Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce, there are still quality tight ends to be found, either buried on rosters or at the top of the waiver wire.
TEs to start in Week 12
Darren Waller, Las Vegas Raiders
Waller turned heads during Sunday Night Football last week, catching seven passes for 88 yards and a touchdown in a loss to the Kansas City Chiefs and racking up one of his best performances of the season in primetime.
While he has only found the end zone five times this season, Waller has been one of the top tight ends in fantasy football this season because of how often the Raiders look for him in the red zone.
Waller leads all tight ends in football with 18 targets and 14 catches in the red zone, making him a threat to score more often than not on scoring drives.
It’s a no-brainer to start Waller this week against a mediocre Atlanta Falcons defense, who is giving up a league-leading 11.0 fantasy points per game to tight ends this season.
Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles
Goedert’s teammate, fellow tight end Zach Ertz, is one of the most talented tight ends in football when healthy.
While it looks like Ertz’s health is trending in the right direction this week, he may not be 100 percent in their Monday Night Football matchup with the Seattle Seahawks.
Even if Ertz does play, Goedert is a quality fantasy starter due to the sheer volume of targets Eagles tight ends have been getting this season.
Through 11 weeks, Ertz and Goedert have totaled 102 targets, which is tied for the highest two-man total this season.
All those targets combined with a favorable matchup against a inconsistent Seattle pass defense makes Goedert a valuable play in fantasy football,
Austin Hooper, Cleveland Browns
After getting off to a rough start, Hooper was likely dropped by most fantasy football general managers who were disappointed with a consensus sleeper pick at the position in preseason rankings.
Hooper has established himself within the offense and has been a little more reliable in recent weeks, as in standard PPR leagues, Hooper has raked in double digit points in three of the past five weeks.
The 7-3 Browns are smack-dab in the middle of the AFC Wild Card race, but have yet to win in dominant fashion this season. With a favorable matchup against a struggling Jaguars defense (which has been giving up 10.4 fantasy points per game to tight ends this season), Hooper is worthy as a flier off of the waiver wire.
Other tight ends to consider starting: Evan Engram @ Cincinnati Bengals, Hunter Henry @ Buffalo Bills, Ertz vs Seahawks.
TEs to sit in Week 12
Jimmy Graham, Chicago Bears
While Graham is coming off a bye and is tied for second in red zone targets amongst tight ends, he only seems to have fantasy value when he scores.
Albeit he has scored five times this season, he is clearly past his prime from a yardage standpoint, as he has yet to surpass 60 yards in a game this season.
Combine that boom-or-bust risk with a putrid Bears offense and a stout Packers defense that only allows 5.8 fantasy points per game to tight ends this season, and Week 12 does not look like a great favorable week for Graham.
Trey Burton, Indianapolis Colts
Burton may have picked by general managers looking for a tight end this week after finding the end zone last week against a good Packers defense.
But this Titans team has played Burton pretty well this season, as in their matchup two weeks, they held Burton to three targets and 5.4 fantasy points in standard leagues.
It also doesn’t help Burton that the Colts now have their full crew of tight ends back, as Jack Doyle and Mo Alie-Cox will both play in this game barring an injury this weekend. Burton placing in the top 10 amongst tight ends this week would surprise most fantasy football managers.
Tyler Higbee, Los Angeles Rams
Higbee is in a similar situation to Burton, as he has been part of a tight-end-committee with Gerald Everett, limiting his value from a fantasy perspective.
Neither tight end has put up flashy numbers all year long, and Everett has earned more targets since Week 8.
Even though the Niners are fairly banged up, their defense is one of the best in the league at limiting tight ends, surrendering fewer than five points a week to tight ends this season.
Barring some sort of injury Everett, Higbee does not have a lot of fantasy value for the remainder of the season.
Other tight ends to consider sitting: Robert Tonyan vs Bears, Jordan Reed @ Rams, Mike Gesicki @ New York Jets.