Special to FV by: Daniel House
1. Rob Gronkowski vs. MIA
It was nice to see Gronk leave his obligations at the club behind and get back on the field last week. His dance moves are great, but I enjoy his fantasy implications much more. After corralling eight receptions and a whopping 17 targets for 114 yards in just 51 of 79 snaps, it seems as if Tom Brady will be looking towards Gronk until the Patriots receivers establish themselves. The Miami defense has allowed the second-most touchdowns to tight ends this season (6), along with a ninth-worst 416 yards to burly pass catchers this year, meaning Gronk will see plenty of work this week.
2. Julius Thomas vs. WSH
The Orange Julius has become the leader in the position's touchdown category after Jimmy Graham and the Saints faced their bye last week. Thomas has recorded eight touchdowns this season and has been targeted a sixth-best 49 times this year. The Washington defense has awarded a third-worst five touchdowns and Thomas has recorded a score in six of his last seven games. This bodes well for owners of Thomas who are looking for another big week from one of the biggest fantasy surprises of the 2013 campaign.
3. Tony Gonzalez @ AZ
No team has allowed more tight end yards (676) and touchdowns (8) than the Arizona Cardinals defense. Gonzo is licking his chops and is facing the perfect situation to get back on track. Gonzalez has struggled the past two weeks and is averaging just 63 yards and zero touchdowns over the last two games. He has exceeded 100 yards just once this year and Gonzo is averaging a measly 44 yards in his five other appearances. Nonetheless, the Cardinals defense has struggled with tight ends and this trend doesn't seem to be ending anytime soon.
4. Jimmy Graham vs. BUF
You may want to monitor Jimmy Graham's status for Sunday's game with the Bills, as he is battling a foot injury he suffered two weeks ago. If he plays, Graham will look to bounce back after the Patriots held him to just six targets, with no yards or receptions. Graham had the bye week to recover and is looking to find the end zone, which is something he has failed to accomplish over his last two weeks of play. The Bills defense has allowed just 224 yards and a pair of touchdowns to tight ends this season, but awarded Charles Clay a touchdown last week. New Orleans is scoring touchdowns in the red zone at a 60% clip over the last three games, meaning Graham should see plenty of action if he is deemed healthy.
5. Vernon Davis @ JAC @ London
Vernon Davis is finally returning to normal form after battling a hamstring injury that plagued him for the first few weeks. Jacksonville has defended tight ends rather well and hasn't allowed a tight end touchdown in two games. However, Davis is averaging 110 yards over his last three games and has been targeted by Colin Kaepernick 20 times in his last two matchups. Davis accounts for 31% of the 49ers total red zone scores, which means he will be sipping tea, while eating crumpets on Sunday.
6. Jason Witten vs. Lions
Jason Witten has been relatively quiet after dismantling the Broncos defense for 141 yards and a touchdown two weeks ago. In his last two games he has averaged 37 yards per game, but has still been targeted a fourth-most 54 times this year. This week he faces a favorable matchup against a Lions defense that has failed to stop tight ends this season. Detroit has allowed a fourth-worst 460 yards to tight ends, but has amazingly held opposing pass catchers to just one touchdown this season. Nonetheless, Dallas has been converting with touchdowns in the red zone a third-best 84% of time, which means Witten will see work this week.
7. Jordan Reed @ DEN
Jordan Reed is quietly becoming a major security blanket for Robert Griffin III and is now the movement tight end, which is a very important role in Mike Shanahan's offense. He matches up with a Denver defense that has allowed a third-worst 537 yards and surrendered scores to this position in two of their last three games. Reed was targeted a season high nine times last week and is averaging 80 yards per game in his last three contests, which means he should do rather well against a slightly unstable Denver defense.
8. Jordan Cameron @ KC
Jordan Cameron is one of the bright spots among a Browns team that is slowly revolving back to old habits. Cameron has been targeted a league high 63 times and has continued this trend with a decrepit Brandon Weeden at the helm. The Browns announced they are going with the Campbell's soup at quarterback this week and they should continue to taste as bland as all canned soup products. Nonetheless, Cameron is one of the few security blankets Cleveland quarterbacks can count on to make plays in this offense. Jordan has plummeted in the rankings this week as he squares off with a Chiefs defense that hasn't allowed a touchdown to a tight end this season. The Chiefs haven't seen a tight end of Cameron's stature, which poses a matchup threat for any defense in this league.
9. Greg Olsen @ TB
The Panthers have been dominating opposing defenses the past two weeks, but Greg Olsen's role has been limited the past few weeks. He has never been a tight end that corrals major yardage and only recorded one game with over 100 yards receiving last year. The trend has continued this year and the Panthers offense has converted with a touchdown in the red zone at a 54% clip. Olsen has accounted for just 21% of the passes thrown in red zone situations, which is encouraging. The Tampa Bay defense hasn't allowed a touchdown to a tight end in four weeks, but given this is a Thursday night game and the Panthers are playing well, Olsen is poised to see success.
10. Kyle Rudolph vs. GB
Kyle Rudolph has been amidst the Vikings quarterback carousel, which has not helped his fantasy status this season. The team is falling faster than Tom Petty's classic Free Fallin', but Rudolph is squaring off with a Green Bay defense that hasn't handled tight ends well. The Packers have allowed a seventh-worst 441 yards and tight ends have caught touchdowns in five of the six games Green Bay has played. Christian Ponder is starting for the injured Josh Freeman this week, which means Rudolph will finally be acquainted with a quarterback who targets him frequently. Rudolph has 12 receptions in his last two games and is poised to do well this week in a home matchup with the cheese heads.
Heath Miller @ OAK
Heath Miller quietly hauled in a touchdown pass from the water buffalo last week and he finally seems to be heating up after a knee injury plagued him for the first few weeks of the season. He is averaging 60 yards per game and has been targeted 18 times in his last three contests. Oakland hasn't allowed a tight end to score since week three, but this has come at the hands of a virtually nondescript cast of pass catchers. If Ben Roethlisberger has time to throw, Miller could be targeted frequently across the middle this week.
Jeff Cumberland @ CIN
Jeff Cumberland has been bothered by a hamstring injury, but should play on Sunday versus the Bengals. He has been able to showcase his athleticism during Kellen Winslow's suspension and Cumberland has tallied at least one 25-yard reception in the last four games. With the Bengals defense allowing opposing tight ends to score a touchdown in three of the past four games, Cumberland has a great opportunity to score this week. He is owned in just 6.2% of leagues, which means he can easily be added if your regular starter is facing a bye week.