FOX Sports Exclusive
What to do with Gronk?
Fantasy owners are mining for gold at the secondary positions in this championship week. While there’s jockeying and positioning week-to-week while owners churn the waiver wire, this week’s waiver activity takes things to a new level. No stone is being left unturned in Week 16. Many owners earned a first-round win or absorbed a loss on the leg of a kicker (Blair Walsh or Sebastian Janikowski, anyone?).
Obviously, one of the big storylines to follow heading into kickoff is the possible return of Rob Gronkowski. If Gronkowski is cleared for Sunday against Jacksonville (I’m still skeptical), then he obviously returns to your lineup. Keep an eye on his progress and the pregame notes on FOXSports.com and FOX Sports Radio to adjust your lineups accordingly.
Let’s dive into this championship round of “Lineup Calls.”
Tight End Starts
Heath Miller vs. CIN
Miller is the third-most targeted red zone receiver in the game, having converted 12-of-19 targets into receptions with seven touchdowns. He’s been particularly active of late, producing 23 receptions on 30 targets in the past four weeks for 318 yards with two touchdowns. Miller caught six passes for 53 yards, including a touchdown romp in Week 7 against these Bengals.
Dennis Pitta vs. NYG
Pitta has been a huge contributor to the Baltimore offense, the lone consistent contributor to the offense, in the past four weeks. He’s caught 19 passes (28 targets) with four touchdowns, topping 40 yards on three occasions.
Opposing tight ends have recorded only three touchdown passes against the Giants. However, the Giants have allowed 57.9 receiving yards and 5.4 receptions per game to opposing tight ends.
Greg Olsen vs. OAK
Olsen has been a huge factor in the Panthers’ passing game all season. He’s recorded at least 40 receiving yards in 10 games this season with eight games of at least four receptions. Cam Newton is on a roll right now, and that compels you to put Olsen in your lineup. The Raiders have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends (5.6 receptions and 54.6 receiving yards per game).
Owen Daniels vs. MIN
Daniels’ production has dipped markedly in the second half of the season, but he remains the No. 2 option for Matt Schaub behind Andre Johnson in the passing game. He’s been targeted at least five times in all but one game in which he appeared (eight or more times on six occasions). Daniels is worthy of a back-end TE1 option this week against the Vikings, a defense that has allowed the 11th-most fantasy points to tight ends (seven touchdowns).
Jermaine Gresham at PIT
Gresham nearly capped a big second half for the Bengals with a touchdown reception against the Eagles in Week 15, but he couldn’t get his second foot down inbounds. He finished the game with six receptions for 63 receiving yards, his fifth game with at least 41 receiving yards in the past seven weeks.
The Steelers rank third against tight ends. I’m not looking past Gresham’s high target count. Gresham was limited to 19 receiving yards on three receptions in the first meeting with Pittsburgh.
Jermichael Finley vs. TEN
There have been numerous reports about the Packers’ intention to drop Finley after the 2012 season. In the interim, Finley’s played much better football of late. He’s topped 50 receiving yards in four of the past five weeks, producing at least three receptions in each of those games (he had two receptions for 16 yards in Week 14). Finley has generated only two touchdowns all season, but his increased target count is intriguing against the Titans. The Titans have allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to tight ends.
Kyle Rudolph at HOU
It’s been a wildly inconsistent season for the second-year tight end out of Notre Dame. Fantasy owners essentially know Rudolph as a “touchdown or bust” proposition. He’s scored in seven games this season (eight total) and has amassed 48 receptions. The Texans have allowed nine touchdown receptions by tight ends this season (tied for third).
Tight End Sleepers
Marcedes Lewis vs. NE
Receptions and yardage count whenever they occur before the clock strikes zero. The Jaguars are expected to be playing from behind early, thereby forcing Chad Henne to start working downfield early. The Patriots have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends, including 63.8 receiving yards and 0.6 touchdowns per game.
Brent Celek vs. WAS
Celek returns to action for a marquee matchup this week against the porous Washington secondary. He’d amassed 50 receptions through 12 games before sustaining a concussion against the Buccaneers. The Redskins have allowed the second-most fantasy points to tight ends, including a league-high 940 yards (67.1 per game) and nine touchdowns.
Scott Chandler at MIA
Chandler recorded his second straight five-reception game in Week 15 against the Seahawks. His increased target count compels me to look past the Dolphins’ lofty ranking against tight ends (sixth-fewest points allowed). He’s caught multiple passes in 12-of-14 games (42 receptions overall) with six touchdown grabs (tied for seventh among tight ends).
Tight End Flops
Vernon Davis at SEA
I know that Davis has chirped about continuity in the San Francisco offense and his role. While we appreciate what he can be at times, Davis’ weekly contribution has been minimal. He’s caught four passes in the past four weeks for 29 yards and has scored a single touchdown since Week 3.
The Seahawks have allowed the fewest fantasy points to tight ends. Davis was shut out by the Seahawks in Week 7.
Antonio Gates at NYJ
I know that he scored last week. Gates still registered only 31 receiving yards, his 11th game with fewer than 50 receiving yards this season. Gates may take on a larger target count following Malcom Floyd’s season-ending injury. However, he’s amassed 13 receptions on 22 targets in the past three weeks for just 111 yards (one touchdown).
Martellus Bennett at BAL
Bennett’s two-game mini-scoring streak ended with a resounding thud against the Falcons in Week 15. He caught a single pass (two targets) for 15 yards. Bennett is a difficult candidate for a comeback this week against the Ravens. He’s recorded 40 or fewer receiving yards in five of his past seven games and the Ravens rank second against tight ends. For all of their defensive deficiencies, the Ravens have allowed only two touchdowns to tight ends all season.
Shaun Suisham vs. CIN
Suisham has produced eight multi-field goal games this season. He’s converted at least one field goal in 13-of-14 games (26-of-27 overall) with two or more PATs in four consecutive games (three each in Weeks 14 and 15).
Suisham converted three field goals and one PAT in the Week 7 meeting with the Bengals. Opposing kickers have converted 25 field goals and 31 PATs against the Bengals this season.
Graham Gano vs. OAK
Gano joined the Panthers just in time for Cam Newton’s production surge. He’s converted at least three PATs in each of his four games with five field goal conversions. The Raiders have allowed the most fantasy points to kickers, including 29 field goals and 45 PATs. Look for the Panthers’ late surge to continue at home against the weak Oakland defense.
Kai Forbath at PHI
Forbath has converted all 15 of his field goal attempts this season with 26 PATs in 27 tries. He’s converted at least one field goal and one PAT in each of his nine appearances. In the first meeting between Philadelphia and Washington, Forbath converted four PATs and one field goal. The Eagles have allowed the ninth-most fantasy points to kickers this season (25 field goals and 42 PATs).
Indianapolis at KC
The Colts rate as a stretch “sleeper” play, as this is not a unit that forces many turnovers (11). However, that’s been the specialty of this Kansas City squad this season. The Chiefs have turned the ball over 34 times, and four of those turnovers have been returned for touchdowns. Kansas City quarterbacks have also been sacked 35 times (Indianapolis has amassed 27 sacks).
Arizona vs. CHI
The Bears are one of the most-penalized teams in the game, and we’ve seen Jay Cutler under duress often behind a makeshift, ever-evolving offensive line. Chicago has surrendered 41 sacks and 23 turnovers this season. Obviously, the Cardinals have posted some miserable games over the course of the season, but I can’t look past the fact that this unit is tied for seventh in the NFL with 36 sacks. Daryl Washington could have a huge day against this offensive line and running backs that sometimes seem disinterested in pass-blocking.
New York Jets vs. SD (both)
Am I the only one excited about this game? There are 1,000,000 storylines to follow in this contest and, yes, the continued avoidance of Tim Tebow is one of them. Either way, you’re looking at two teams that have been very generous to the opposition this season. The Jets have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to opposing fantasy defenses. The Chargers rank sixth in that category.
Opponents have piled up 35 sacks against the Jets with 33 turnovers (five from Mark Sanchez in Week 15). The turnstile effect of the San Diego offensive line has led to 43 sacks of Philip Rivers and 26 turnovers. Kickers rule!
More Stories From Michael Harmon