Fantasy owners entered this playoff week without the services of Antonio Gates.
That’s a terrible blow to absorb, and a pain that owners of Aaron Rodgers know all too well. It’s been a topsy-turvy season, to be sure, as few top-tier players have managed to match our preseason expectations or avoid the fantasy infirmary.
Top Tight Ends
(Other than Vernon Davis, Jason Witten, Tony Gonzalez and Marcedes Lewis)
Owen Daniels at Tennessee
Daniels returned to the field on Monday night and delivered on his “sleeper” promise in the wild overtime game. He caught five passes for 91 yards and was targeted 11 times, a nice bounce-back following a drop-laden first half. If Matt Schaub’s arm doesn’t fall off after that performance, Daniels is a prime play this week against the terrible Tennessee defense.
Jacob Tamme vs. Jacksonville
Tamme has been slowed by hamstring and knee injuries in the past several weeks, but he remains a steady target for Peyton Manning. He’s caught four or more passes in each of his seven appearances since becoming the man for Manning. It’s possible that he loses a look or two with Austin Collie returning.
Kevin Boss vs. Philadelphia
Boss scored for the fourth time in six games since the Giants’ Bye. Given the number of injuries afflicting the New York receiving corps, Boss has slid up the depth chart for Eli Manning. He’s caught multiple passes in six consecutive games. The yardage totals vacillate, but Boss is a red zone monster (6-foot-6).
Benjamin Watson at Cincinnati
Alas, Watson was unable to produce a solid follow-up to his 10-reception performance of Week 13. He was limited to one reception for eight yards by the Bills, the fourth time this season in which he recorded fewer than three receptions.
I anticipate a strong bounce-back performance this week with Colt McCoy returning under center. The offense ran more cohesively and efficiently under McCoy prior to his injury, so there’s potential for a strong effort against the Bengals. Watson recorded six receptions for 60 yards in the first meeting with Cincinnati.
Kellen Winslow vs. Detroit
Winslow has been on the radar as an option in PPR leagues all season, but the veteran tight end has also established a red zone presence in recent weeks. He’s scored in three of the past five games and now stands as a prime plug-in play for a crucial Week 15 matchup against Detroit. Winslow’s yardage totals have not been overwhelming, but I’m merely looking for opportunity.
Andrew Quarless at New England
Quarless emerged as a prime option for Matt Flynn following Rodgers’ departure in Week 14. He caught five of six targets for 62 yards and needs to be on your radar for this matchup.
I do not expect a dominant effort from Flynn should he line up under center this week. However, I do anticipate a need to play catch-up with the white-hot New England offense. Flynn is clearly comfortable working with Quarless, and we can reasonably expect that the Patriots’ secondary will be scheming to eliminate deep threat Greg Jennings. That will leave Quarless room to sit down over the middle.
Rob Gronkowski vs. Green Bay
Gronkowski caught five passes for 43 yards and an early touchdown in the blowout win over Chicago in Week 14. It was his third game with five receptions in the past five weeks. I’m anticipating another strong game against this blitzing Green Bay defense. The Packers will bring the heat to keep Tom Brady from establishing a rhythm, and that opens ample space for Gronkowski down the middle.
Heath Miller vs. New York Jets
Miller has passed his concussion tests and is expected to return to the field this week against the Jets. He’s been a key run-blocker to aid Rashard Mendenhall, so his return certainly helps to establish balance in the offense. I suspect that the Jets’ effort to slow Mendenhall does afford space down the seams for Miller to operate.
Chris Cooley at Dallas
If you’re in a PPR league, there are few options more consistent than Cooley. He’s caught three or more passes in 12 of 13 games this season (he caught two passes for 22 yards in Week 14). However, Cooley has not been a red zone threat whatsoever (two touchdowns). He hasn’t scored since Week 4.
Brent Celek at New York Giants
Celek popped up on the radar for two weeks, but then disappeared just as quickly as he came against the Cowboys. He didn’t generate a single catch in Week 14. Celek was also shut out in Week 11 by the Giants.
Visanthe Shiancoe vs. Chicago
This will probably be the last time I reference Shiancoe this season. He’s topped 40 receiving yards only four times this season with two touchdowns this season. I know that we always want to target a tight end working with a young quarterback (I referenced it before), but I’m giving a vote of no confidence to the Minnesota offense.