Fantasy Football

Miller continues to rise up TE chart

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Michael Harmon

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Harmon Rankings: QB, RB,WR, TE/DEF

The past two weeks have not been kind to the tight end position.

- Washington lost Fred Davis for the season because of a torn ACL.

- Jermichael Finley is still recovering from an ailing shoulder.

- Jimmy Graham missed Week 7 and remains a game-time decision for Week 8 because of an ankle injury.

- Word broke Friday that Aaron Hernandez had not accompanied the Patriots to London for their date against the Rams.

Injuries are just part of the equation leading to some interesting roster decisions for Week 8. Owners are contemplating numerous fill-in options at the secondary positions while riding out Bye weeks or slumps.

Heroes

(Exclude Rob Gronkowski, Tony Gonzalez and Antonio Gates) Heath Miller vs. WAS
What else can I say? The Redskins have been terrible defending the tight end position (passing games altogether), surrendering the second-most fantasy points (74.1 yards per game with five touchdowns).

Miller has been one of the best red zone targets in the game. He entered the Week 8 schedule as the third-leading red zone target with eight receptions on 13 targets for 42 yards with five touchdowns.

Martellus Bennett at DAL
Bennett began his ascent to fantasy prominence in the opener against his former team. He remains a huge part of the Giants’ red zone plans and I expect to see him active this week as the Cowboys work to slow Cruz and Nicks on the edges. The Cowboys have allowed the 20th-most fantasy points to tight ends (three touchdowns to date).

Greg Olsen at CHI
Olsen has been quiet in the past two weeks, amassing just six catches for 68 yards against the Seahawks and Cowboys. This is a better spot for Olsen, as the Bears’ coverage of tight ends is one of the few deficient areas in the otherwise dominant unit. The Bears have allowed the 13th-most fantasy points to tight ends (58.7 receiving yards per game with two touchdowns). Look for Olsen to be active across the middle against his former team.

Brent Celek vs. ATL
The bulk of Celek’s fantasy production came in Week 2 against the faltering Baltimore defense (eight receptions for 157 yards). However, he remains an integral, highly-targeted piece of the Philadelphia offense. Celek has caught multiple passes in every game this season (three or more in five of six games).

The Eagles usually perform well out of the Bye (13 straight wins under Andy Reid), and this Atlanta defense has allowed the 15th-most fantasy points to tight ends. Look for Atlanta to try and clamp down on the edges and slow LeSean McCoy on the ground. As a result, Celek will have plenty of space to run the seams.

Dustin Keller vs. MIA
Keller caught all seven of his targets in Week 7, and he’s finally healthy and ready to bolster the New York passing game. I’m moderately intrigued by this unit going forward with Keller and Stephen Hill returning to full health and with Jeremy Kerley emerging as a downfield target.

The Dolphins have yet to surrender a touchdown to a tight end, but opponents have averaged 68.7 receiving yards per contest. Mark Sanchez’s security blanket has returned.

Sleepers

Jacob Tamme vs. NO
We expect to see a “last team with the ball wins” scenario develop in Denver on Sunday night. The Broncos’ strength on the outside and Willis McGahee’s dominance in the ground game will afford Tamme ample space over the middle. Tamme has been targeted 38 times this season and will work the seams. Joel Dreessen rates a play in deeper leagues as a potential red zone vulture.

David Thomas at DEN
Jimmy Graham is listed as a “Game-Time Decision” for the prime time festivities in Denver. Fantasy owners are positively salivating over the pinball-like potential of this matchup. Thomas didn’t deliver a huge game in Graham’s absence last week against the Buccaneers, but he did score a touchdown. The Broncos have allowed the fourth-most fantasy points to tight ends, including five end zone romps.

Coby Fleener at TEN
Fleener has been targeted 33 times to date, and he rates a solid plug-in option for fantasy owners left wringing their hands over Aaron Hernandez and Jimmy Graham. The Titans have allowed the most fantasy points to tight ends this season, including 55 receptions (eight touchdowns). Dwayne Allen is a sneaky play in deeper leagues for his red zone efficiency.

Flops

Jason Witten vs. NYG
Witten rates as a top-10 tight end option because of his high weekly target count. He’s a dominant PPR option, having caught 25 passes in the past three weeks. However, Witten has scored just a single touchdown this season. He doesn’t generally make his mark in the red zone, and the Giants, for all of their early-season issues, have been unkind to opposing tight ends. New York has allowed the fourth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends and has yet to surrender a touchdown.

Jared Cook vs. IND
Cook has been good for a big play in three of the past four games, posting at least a 25-yard reception (one touchdown). However, he’s topped 40 receiving yards only once.

The Colts have allowed the fewest fantasy points to tight ends this season, yielding 2.7 receptions and 23.8 receiving yards with one touchdown per game. This game could open up and change Cook’s involvement to make him a viable option, but he’s a mid-TE2 at best.

Vernon Davis at ARI
Davis was shut out altogether in Week 7 by the Seattle defense. He didn’t even register a target in that game, though he did contribute as a blocker to the running game. I get it. You’re a fantasy fan and you don’t care about blocking (while the Frank Gore owners mouth a big “Thank you”).

The Cardinals have allowed the second-fewest fantasy points to tight ends (18 receptions overall and just two touchdowns). Davis still rates as a back-end TE1 option this week, but temper your expectations.

Kicker Plug-Ins

Garrett Hartley at DEN
What else is there to say? This has the potential to be a ridiculous scoring display. As a result, any active roster slot must be engaged except the defenses. You take your huge pile of PATs (21 to date) with a few field goals mixed therein (7-of-9 to date). He’s hardly dominant, but Drew Brees’ efficiency and dominance guarantees a solid base line.

Shaun Suisham vs. WAS
The Pittsburgh passing attack will engage the heretofore porous Washington pass defense in what may develop into a high-scoring game. The Redskins have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing kickers, including 15 field goals (three from 50+) and 17 PATs.

Suisham has converted 14-of-15 field goal attempts and 12 PATs this season.

Rob Bironas vs. IND
The return of Chris Johnson to fantasy prominence has me running against the year-to-date stats in recommending Bironas. The Colts are tied for the sixth-fewest fantasy points allowed to kickers through seven weeks of play. Kickers have converted seven field goals and 17 PATs.

Still, the Colts rank 24th in total defense at 26.3 points allowed per game. I expect to see a balanced offensive attack from the surging Tennessee offense in what promises to be a high-scoring game.

Defense Plug-Ins

New England at STL
I know. This may be among the biggest reaches I’ve made this week. But, stay with me. The Patriots, though they travel without Aaron Hernandez, will put points on the board in this London tilt. As a result, Sam Bradford will be pressed to throw and play catch-up (when not enthralling the crowd with a Greg Zuerlein kicking exhibition). That portends to turnover opportunities and big returns.

New York Jets vs. MIA
The Jets pulled out a narrow victory in overtime in the first meeting between these AFC East foes. New York limited Ryan Tannehill to 196 passing yards (16-of-36) with an interception and the Dolphins capitalized on Jets turnovers. I’m not a believer in the New York run defense, but this unit can still make noise in the secondary.

Oakland at KC
Brady Quinn celebrates a birthday this weekend and will try to extend the celebration against the Raiders. Unless things shifted immensely during the Bye week, the Chiefs’ offensive line issues (13 sacks allowed) and turnover problems continue against the Raiders. The Chiefs have surrendered 21 turnovers (11 interceptions) with two turnovers returned for touchdowns.

Of course, the Oakland defense has hardly been dominant (three interceptions and seven sacks). It’s a roll of the dice for owners dealing with a Bye week gap.

Tagged: Bears, Cowboys, Broncos, Titans, Colts, Chiefs, Raiders, Rams, Dolphins, Patriots, Saints, Giants, Jets, Eagles, 49ers, Redskins, Panthers, Steelers, Jason Witten, Rob Bironas, Vernon Davis, Brent Celek, Greg Olsen, Dustin Keller, Fred Davis, Jacob Tamme, Jared Cook, Rob Gronkowski, Aaron Hernandez, Jimmy Graham

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