Special to FV by: Daniel House
1. Rob Gronkowski vs. CLE
The Gronk has caught a touchdown in four consecutive games and he has eclipsed 90 yards in three of those contests. The Cleveland defense has been rather generous to tight ends, allowing a touchdown in each of their last three games. They awarded Jags tight ends Marcedes Lewis and a guy named Clay Habor to each score touchdowns in last week's game. No Patriots player has been targeted more than Gronkowski and he has been a major security blanket for Tom Brady in the red zone. Each time Gronk is targeted inside the red zone, he scores a touchdown on 60% of his receptions, which has proved beneficial over his past three matchups. Cleveland couldn't beat the Jags last week and the team is slowly falling off the cliff, which means Gronkowski will take one last Mike Tyson blow to the Browns season in week 14.
2. Jimmy Graham vs. CAR
Jimmy Graham managed to reach the end zone last week against a Seahawks defense that hadn't registered a touchdown to a tight end since week nine. No player has scored more touchdowns (12) than Graham this season and he has put up a whopping six 100 yard or more performances in 2013. The Panthers have allowed just five touchdowns to tight ends this season, but three of them have come over the past five weeks of play. The Saints need to win to keep pace in the NFC South and Graham has been the one reliable source of offense for Drew Brees and the Saints. You never bet against Jimmy Graham at the Superdome, where he has posted a whopping 75 receptions for 956 yards and 13 scores in his last 14 home matchups.
3. Tony Gonzalez @ GB
Gonzo scored a touchdown for the first time since week nine last week versus Buffalo and he has posted forty yards or more in each of his last three games. Gonzalez is tied with Jordan Cameron for the most red zone targets (15) among tight ends this season. Despite a season where Tony has been plagued by a toe injury, he is still ranked fourth in receptions and fifth in yardage during 2013. Green Bay's defense is a wreck, but they have allowed just one touchdown to opposing tight ends in their last five contests. Nonetheless, tight ends are averaging 40 yards per week against the Packers and given Atlanta is converting in the red zone at a 64% clip, Gonzalez will flourish in the Frozen Tundra.
4. Jordan Cameron @ NE
Jordan Cameron is in a funk and it's not the Stevie Wonder kind, but the good ol' slump that every player will experience in a season. Cameron hasn't reached the end zone in six weeks and has exceeded fifty yards just once in that time frame. Much of this can be attributed to the Jason Campbell and Brandon Weeden carousel that is occurring in the dog pound. Teams have been watching Cameron closer in the red zone and his targets have decreased by 50% when he reaches the sacred area. The Patriots defense has allowed a pair of touchdowns to opposing tight ends over the past three weeks, along with a respectable 46 yards per game average. Cameron deserves consideration as a starter solely based upon his continued targets (24 over his past three games). If Cameron can reach the end zone from these targets, along with turning them into receptions, the fruit cake will be delivered a few weeks early.
5. Jared Cook @ ARZ
Jared Cook has proven to be fraudulent after every fantasy owner quickly moved to free agency as fast as the Gold Rush of 1848. Following a performance of nearly 150 yards receiving and a pair of touchdowns to the Cardinals in week one, the rush nearly ended as fast as it began. Cook posted only one game over 50 yards receiving and has reached the end zone just once since the Gold Rush of 2013. Nonetheless, Cook needs to be in your lineup this week against a Cardinals team that has been piteous against tight ends this season. No team has allowed more tight end touchdowns (13) than Arizona and six of these scores have come in the past three games. If Cook can't reach the end zone this week, something is seriously wrong.
6. Jason Witten @ CHI
The Bears defense has allowed just three touchdowns to opposing tight ends this season, but success has occurred against them over the past two weeks of play. The Rams and Vikings tight ends have dropped 143 yards and a touchdown on the Bears depleted defense and Jason Witten is next in line. Witten may not be the most consistent player and he is a weekly boom or bust start, but he is still trusted for his continued reliance in the red zone and his recent production has been on the rise. Witten has caught three touchdowns in his last four games and has surpassed 50 yards on two occasions during this span. In his last matchup with the Bears he hauled in a whopping 13 receptions for 112 yards and a score, which makes Witten a bit more stable this week.
7. Vernon Davis vs. SEA
The much maligned 49ers passing game has been evolving over the past three weeks and the benefits have been derived by Vernon Davis. Davis has caught touchdowns in each of his last three games and did so against a Rams defense that had allowed the third-fewest tight end scores entering last week's game. The Seattle defense has quietly awarded three touchdowns and 200 yards in three of their last four games against opposing tight ends, which bodes well for Davis. Despite the stout nature of the Seahawks defense, the additions of Mario Manningham and Michael Crabtree to the 49ers offense has helped deter the vast majority of the attention from Davis. With the increased production from Davis, he is a very encouraging start in any situation.
8. Greg Olsen @ NO
The New Orleans Saints defense has been stout against tight ends this season, but the trend has been shifting lately. Rob Ryan's fellas have allowed touchdowns to opposing tight ends in two of the last three games, along with at least five receptions in the last four contests. Greg Olsen has quietly been heating up and with scores in four of his past six games and a whopping 12 red zone targets, which is quickly making him great starting material. Olsen is averaging eight targets per game over his last three matchups and is becoming a nice safety net for Cam Newton and the Panthers.
9. Antonio Gates vs. NYG
Antonio Gates has reached for the pylon just three times this season, but has accumulated a second-most 726 yards in 2013. He hasn't topped 100 yards since week four, however, three of his last five games have yielded performances of 50 yards or more. Two weeks ago, he reached the end zone for the first time since week four and he still has registered the second-most targets among tight ends this season (90). Ladarius Green has been trolling points from Gates, but against a Giants defense that has allowed three touchdowns to opposing tight ends over the past three weeks, he will see more action this week.
10. Coby Fleener @ CIN
Coby Fleener has surpassed 50 yards receiving in each of his last three games, as he continues to see a great amount of passes from Andrew Luck. With a whopping 33 targets over his past four games, he has turned 57% of them into receptions. He hauled in a touchdown two weeks ago against the Cardinals and his performance has been surging over the past three weeks. The Bengals have allowed a ninth-worst six touchdowns to opposing tight ends this season, all of which have come to different teams. With Fleener's improved second half campaign, he is on track to play well this week.
Dallas Clark vs. MIN
Only one team has allowed more tight end touchdowns (9) than the Minnesota Vikings, which makes Dallas Clark a quiet sleeper this week. Clark accounted for just 35 percent of the Ravens snaps last week, but given the Vikings struggles with tight ends, Baltimore will look to exploit the weakness. The Vikings have improved against tight ends and haven't allowed a tight end touchdown for three weeks, but with the Ravens likely being positioned deep in Minnesota's territory, Clark has a chance to score a touchdown for the first time since week ten.
Garrett Graham @ JAC
Thursday night football will be the battle of the abominable snowmen, as both teams have awoke and fell into deep hibernation on several occasions this season. Garrett Graham has been spreading some positivity to the Texans offense, but his performance has tapered slightly after logging 136 yards and a touchdown in week eleven. Case Keenum has turned the light switch on and off during his time at quarterback and it will take an improved performance from last week's measly three catches to adequately produce fantasy production this week. Nonetheless, the Jags have allowed a third-most nine touchdowns to opposing tight ends this season and given this is on Thursday night, just about anything can happen.