Daniel House breaks down the tight end rankings for week seventeen.
1. Vernon Davis @ ARZ
The 49ers are looking to keep pace in the NFC West and with a week 17 blunder by the Seahawks, San Francisco could still win the division. That means they still have something to play for in a final week which could be meaningless for teams who have locked in their playoff positions. Nonetheless, no team has allowed more yardage or touchdowns to opposing tight ends than the Arizona Cardinals this season. Vernon Davis has scored a touchdown in five of his last six games and the Cardinals defense has awarded a whopping 15 touchdowns to opposing tight ends in 2013. Davis was held to zero receptions against the Falcons last Monday night, but in Davis' last matchup with the Cardinals in week six, he hauled in a pair of touchdowns, along with a monster 180 yards of receiving. This is a great matchup for Davis, who arguably has been the most important target for Colin Kaepernick this season.
2. Jimmy Graham vs. TB
Jimmy Graham has caught at least one touchdown in four of his last five games and no tight end has been targeted more over the last three weeks (28). In a week two matchup with the Bucs, Graham demoralized the Tampa Bay defense for 179 yards, on a season-high ten receptions. Graham was targeted a whopping 16 times in that game, the most for Graham during the 2013 campaign. This is a big statement considering Graham has been targeted a league-most 134 times this season. The Bucs defense has allowed three of their six tight end touchdowns over the past five weeks of play and with the Saints battling Arizona for playoff positioning, they can't afford to miss Graham in week 17.
3. Julius Thomas @ OAK
Julius Thomas has caught touchdowns in two of his last three games since returning from injury in week 14. He exceeded fifty receiving yards for the first time since week ten and he is catching stride as the playoffs approach. Oakland has allowed a measly two tight end touchdowns over the past five weeks, but they have awarded three fifty yard performances, along with a 136-yard game by Garrett Graham during this stretch. Thomas registered a touchdown against Oakland in week three and given the Orange Julius has been targeted a whopping 16 times over his last two games, it seems Thomas is returning to earlier form.
4. Greg Olsen @ ATL
Greg Olsen has been blanked from the end zone in four straight games, after hauling in two touchdowns during weeks 11 and 12. Olsen has been targeted a whopping 34 times in his last four games and he has registered two near 100-yard performances during that stretch. Just four tight ends have recorded more targets than Olsen this season (103), which has made him worth starting over the most recent spread of games. Only two teams have allowed more tight end touchdowns (10), than the Atlanta Falcons this season, which is the perfect opportunity for Olsen to find the pylon this week.
5. Delanie Walker vs. HOU
Delanie Walker has caught just one touchdown in his last four games and Houston has allowed three touchdowns and a respectable 245 yards to tight ends over the last five games. Walker found the end zone against Houston in week two and the Texans have awarded opposing tight end scores in three of their last four games. Walker has been targeted by Ryan Fitzpatrick 19 times over his last two games, but Walker has cracked fifty receiving yards in just one of those two games. Nonetheless, when the Titans are in the red zone, Walker is the primary target and with Houston's continued struggles, they are sure to be in this position frequently.
6. Charles Clay vs. NYJ
Charles Clay has been silenced the past two games after hauling in a pair of touchdowns against Pittsburgh in week 14. Nonetheless, his targets increased from two to seven last week and he has been searched for a respectable 29 times over his last four games. Clay also posted 80 yards on a season-high ten targets against the Jets back in week 13. The Jets have awarded one tight end touchdown over the last three weeks, along with three 80 plus receiving yard performances from opposing tight ends. Owners will be leery after two disappointing weeks, but this week he faces his best matchup since a few weeks back.
7. Jason Witten vs. PHI
Jason Witten has scored touchdowns in three of his last five games and five of his last seven matchups, which is something we aren't used to from the Cowboys pass catcher. Witten is quietly registering a career year and with one more touchdown, he hits nine touchdowns, which matches his career-high for touchdowns in a season. The Eagles have allowed just two tight end touchdowns all season, but the Cowboys will look for Witten when they need him most – in the red zone. Philadelphia allowed eight tight end targets last week versus the Bears, which was the second-most they have awarded all season. Considering the Bears couldn't move the ball and still found Martellus Bennett, the Cowboys may have found an area they can exploit among the Eagles defense.
8. Martellus Bennett vs. GB
Martellus Bennett has posted fifty receiving yards or more in each of his last two games and he has been targeted 20 times over his last three contests. Bennett has failed to find the end zone in four consecutive games, but only four teams have allowed more tight end touchdowns (9) than Green Bay this season. The Packers have allowed opposing tight ends to score in three of their last four games and considering the rise in Bennett's targets and influence in the offense, it seems logical he is heading towards a big game in the NFC North Championship game.
9. Jordan Cameron @ PIT
Jordan Cameron missed last week's game versus the Jets with a concussion, but all indications point to his return coming against Pittsburgh this week. Cameron's production has declined rapidly since the first half of the season and he has scored just one touchdown since week seven. He finally returned to form in week 14 and shredded the Patriots offense for his second 100 receiving yard performance and his first touchdown since week seven. Cameron has been targeted a second-most 111 times this season and he squares off with a Steelers defense that has allowed three tight end touchdowns in their last three matchups. If Cameron is deemed healthy, he could end the season as well as he started it.
10. Coby Fleener vs. JAC
Coby Fleener owners are now scared after he was held to zero catches in week 15 and was held to a measly two receptions in week 16. Nonetheless, he squares off with a Jags defense that has allowed a third-most nine touchdowns to opposing tight ends this season. They have awarded at least 50 receiving yards to opposing tight ends in three consecutive matchups and in a week four matchup with the Colts, Fleener found the end zone, while corralling 77 yards receiving. This seems to be the perfect way for Fleener to get back on track as the Colts prepare to make a playoff surge.
Brandon Myers vs. WSH
After hauling in touchdowns in three consecutive games, Brandon Myers has been blanked in his last two matchups. Myers has hauled in at least 30 receiving yards in six straight games and he squares off with a Redskins defense that is generous to tight ends. Only two teams have allowed more tight end touchdowns (10), than Washington this season. Three of these touchdowns have come over the last five games and in a previous matchup with the Redskins, Myers hauled in a touchdown. If you are looking for a nice stocking stuffer for your fantasy league, Myers is the perfect choice.
Heath Miller vs. CLE
Heath Miller hasn't found the end zone since week seven, but in week 17, he faces a Cleveland Browns defense that has been honorable to opposing tight ends this season. The Browns have allowed four tight end touchdowns in their last five games and have awarded 50 yards to opposing tight ends in each of those matchups. Miller may not be the flashiest pickup for your final week of fantasy football, but he is owned in just 16% of leagues and has high upside.