2019 Fantasy Football Playoff Primer: Part 2
Here we are again with the 2019 Fantasy Football Playoff Primer: Part 2. In part 1 we looked at quarterback, kicker, DST streamer and ways to optimize your choices. We covered handcuffs and why it is important to have your guy and more. Now we are on to part 2 with tight end streamers, potential league winners you may have questions about, guys you are trusting that could lose it for you, and more! Let us dig in an start it off where we left off in part 1. The most frustrating position in fantasy. Here are the TE streams through Week 16.
Top Ten Defense vs TE Matchups
Two Week Streamers (Multiple Top-12 Matchups)
Jimmy Graham TE, Green Bay Packers
wk 14 VS WAS, wk 15 VS CHI
Through the first seven games of the season, Jimmy Graham had done enough to be ranked as the TE12. This despite having two games in which he saw 1 target and had 0 receptions. He did this by scoring 3 TDs in the span. That is how crazy this position can be because there was no time in that span you ever felt good about Graham in your lineup.
Since that point, Graham has seen an average of 2.2 receptions on 3 targets for a measly 23.8 yards and has failed to score. In five weeks (TE32 in the span), he went from TE12 to TE21 in PPR. Graham has two top-12 matchups but you will never feel safe about a player with two 0 catch games. He has seen a 1 target drop each of the past five weeks (5, 4, 3, 2, and 1 in Week 13). There are other options.
Dallas Goedert TE, Philadelphia Eagles
wk 15 @ WAS, wk 16 VS DAL
Dallas Goedert has become much more than a backup TE in the Philadelphia Eagles offense in 2019. Through the first four weeks of the season, Goedert was averaging 1.3 receptions on 2.5 targets with 10.8 yards receiving with 0.3 TDs. Due to a multitude of injuries and the fact that Goedert is just a good player, his usage has gone way up. From weeks 5 through 13, he is averaging 4.6 receptions on 6.1 targets with 44.6 yards receiving and 0.4 TDs per game. The injured weapons are all back or due back but Goedert has somewhat established himself in the mix. He will have two top-12 matchups in the fantasy playoffs but can you rely on him?
Goedert just totaled 2 receptions on 3 targets for 16 yards in Week 1 against the Washington Redskins but this was prior to the second year TE staking a claim in the offense. Washington also held Zach Ertz in check (4/7, 54). Over the past few weeks, the Redskins allowed 7 receptions on 7 targets in Week 13, faced Detroit who lost TJ Hockenson and allowed Ryan Griffin to catch 5 passes on 5 targets for 109 yards and a TD. Week 16 could decide the NFC East when Dallas visits Philadelphia. Since the loss of Leighton Vander Esch, the Cowboys have somewhat started falling apart on defense. Vander Esch should return soon but with him in the game in Week 7, Ertz was held in check (2/5, 38). Goedert, however, had himself a very good fantasy day (4/4, 69, 1 TD).
Evan Engram TE, New York Giants
wk 15 VS MIA, wk 16 @ WAS
This one is all about availability. Evan Engram is a locked-in starter when healthy but health has been hard to come by as of late. So much so that in Week 14, the New York Giants could be without their young TE again. Week 15 will bring the Miami Dolphins who rank 12th in most points allowed to TE. Miami gets beat everywhere else on the field as well which could be the reason they are not ranked even lower. Miami has only allowed 3 TDs to the position but they have allowed the seventh-most yards receiving (709) and the 10th most receptions (61). Eli Manning is back for Week 14 but we can not be sure when or if Daniel Jones will return. Manning has a lot of success with Engram but as you can see below using the FFStatistics Splits App, he has been slightly better without Manning.
Darren Fells TE, Houston Texans
wk 15 @ TEN, wk 16 @ TB
Darren Fells has been a pleasant surprise in 2019. He has not produced weekly startable numbers every game but more often than not, Fells has given you something that will not kill your week. He may only have three games with more than 3 targets but Fells does have seven games with 20+ yards and 7 TDs since Week 3. In Week 15, he gets the Tennessee Titans. TEN is one of 10 teams who have allowed 90+ targets to TEs (92) and they have given up the fourth-highest total of TDs to the position (6).
In Week 16, the Houston passing game is all systems go as they take on one of the premier funnel defense matchups in the league. Tampa Bay gives up almost nothing on the ground and so much through the air. Tampa Bay allows the fourth-most PPR fantasy points, Yards receiving, and the third most TDs to TEs.
Tyler Higbee TE, Los Angeles Rams
wk 14 VS SEA, wk 15 @ DAL
Depending on what happens with Gerald Everett’s injury status moving forward, Tyler Higbee could be in line to be a major player for some TE streaming playoff teams. We saw what happened in Week 13 when Higbee faced the number one defense for TE production. Higbee was a major part of the game plan with 7 receptions on 8 targets for 107 yards and a score. This was Higbee’s second game in a row with 6+ targets and 5+ receptions and third in the last 4 with 4+ targets and 3+ receptions. The Los Angeles Rams will welcome the division rival Seattle Seahawks who rank as the second-best matchup for TEs. Using the FFStatistics Defenses APP you can see what the Rams TEs did to the Seahawks the last time they played in Week 5.
Following Seattle, the Rams face the Cowboys who as we discussed above, allow the 10th most PPR points to TEs and the only time they have faced a top-16 TE (as of Week 14’s game) and not allowed a double-digit performance was the Week 5 game with the Eagles when Zach Ertz totaled 5.8 PPR points. Dallas Goedert put up 16.9 that day.
Ryan Griffin TE, New York Jets
wk 14 VS MIA, wk 16 VS PIT
Through the first five weeks (four games) of the season, Jets TE, Ryan Griffin had seen 7 targets and turned them into 17 yards on 5 receptions. He was the TE64. Since that point, Griffin has been the TE6 by catching 3.5 targets on 4.1 targets for 36.9 yards and 0.6 TDs per game.
Griffin and the Jets will get the 12th and 11th best defenses for TEs to face which is not the best couple matchups to try and stream against but with the role locked in and Griffin scoring 5 TDs with four of eight games with 4+ targets and six of eight with 3+. He has shown the ability to post a solid floor and a decent ceiling. The one game since Week 5 that Griffin failed to see multiple targets was the only one in which Chris Herndon tried to play (Week 10 @ NYG).
One Week Streamers
Greg Olsen/ Ian Thomas TE, Carolina Panthers
wk 15 vs SEA
Carolina will play the Seahawks in Week 15. We have gone over the fact the Seahawks own the second-best matchup for TEs. If Greg Olsen is able to return from a concussion, he could absolutely be a streaming option. If Olsen is still unable to suit up next week, Ian Thomas can be a viable fill in as we saw with a decent sample size in 2018 (Below).
Vance McDonald TE, Pittsburgh Steelers, and David Njoku TE, Cleveland Browns
The Arizona Cardinals will face McDonald in Week 14 and Njoku Week 15. Vance McDonald has been a massive disappointment especially with all the vacated volume in Pittsburgh. David Njoku has lost nearly all his season to injury. Week 1 was a solid week but that was the last time e saw Njoku complete a contest this season. McDonald has been anything but startable and Njoku has been anything but available. You really do not have a reason to trust either as it stands right now, or do you?
I give you exhibit A.
Ten top-10 finishes and seven inside the top-three. You do not exactly have to be a household name to drop 10+ PPR points on these guys.
Noah Fant TE, Denver Broncos
wk 15 @ KC
The Broncos’ rookie TE has had moments when you see just what all the excitement was about and moments when you wonder if the guy can catch a cold. Now he has a rookie at QB, Drew Lock, to throw another wrench in the gears. Fant will have a great matchup against a team with a great offense that should cause the Broncos to have to throw more but Lock averaged 4.8 yards per attempt in his first start. That is not exactly interesting even in the best overall matchup. Fant caught 1 of 3 targets for 5 yards receiving in Lock’s first start. They better show major improvement in Week 14 to be considered a Week 15 option.
Jonnu Smith/ Anthony Firsker TE, Tennessee Titans
wk 14 @ OAK
Below you can see by using the FFStatistic Snap Count App, Jonnu Smith has far out-snapped Anthony Firkser with the exception of Week 8. The two TEs have the exact same number of targets over the past three weeks and Firkser is the one to haul in a TD. Neither are exactly trustable and it would be wise to scroll right on past their names on the waiver lists.
Foster Moreau TE, Oakland Raiders
wk 14 VS TEN
It is TD or Bust with Oakland Raiders TE Foster Moreau and you can not trust that when it counts. If Waller were to miss time for any reason, Moreau would absolutely be a start.
Jared Cook TE, New Orleans Saints
wk 16 @ TEN
Jared Cook has always been a player with enormous potential but seems to regularly fall flat on his face. There is no reason that a player with that much talent should not be able to produce but it happens here. Can you trust a player that has a floor of 1 reception on 2 targets for 7 yards in 2019 and has regularly let us down? When that player is averaging 4 receptions on 5.8 targets for 61.5 yards receiving and nearly 3/4 of a TD per game over the last six games at the most volatile position in fantasy, yes. I think you can but always remember there is a downside as low as anyone. Tennessee is the seventh-best TE matchup and as you can see below, the Titans have given up seven TE1 finishes with 3 inside the top-three.
Dawson Knox TE, Buffalo Bills
wk 15 @ PIT
Dawson Knox has had a productive rookie year but not so much in terms of fantasy. Since Week 4, Knox has caught more than 2 passes just twice, exceeded 22 yards receiving just twice, and caught 1 TD. There is a better option for Week 15.
Tyler Eifert TE, Cincinnati Bengals
wk 16 MIA
Tyler Eifert has not been trustable all season and Week 16 is not the time to start.
It’s A Trap!
We always hear “start your studs” from countless fantasy analysts and in large, this generally works out for you. That is why they are studs. Sometimes though, there is a stretch of matchups, surrounding factors, or maybe injury, that brings questions into the equation when deciding who to start. Here are some players that could let you down.
Josh Allen QB, Buffalo Bills
VS BAL, @ PIT, @ NE
Josh Allen has been just about as consistent as we have seen this season. A high ceiling and floor in large part to his ability to run the ball, have elevated Allen to the QB5 in fantasy in 2019. The good times might not last though as Allen, although in the midst of a second-year breakout, has three very tough matchups on the horizon.
The Bills will go up against the fifth, ninth, and number one defenses against QBs over the next three weeks. We have seen what the Patriots defense and Bill Belichick can do against the Bills and Allen so we will focus on BAL and PIT. Against Baltimore, Allen will face a QB that he will likely be compared to for years but Lamar Jackson is a different kind of runner.
Jackson has designed running plays specifically ran with the intention of getting Jackson in the open field. Josh Allen, on the other hand, is a scrambling QB. He is generally running to avoid a rush when nobody downfield is open. The Ravens allow the third-fewest yards rushing by QBs and the Steelers allow the 10th fewest. Both at fewer than 150 yards and both have allowed just 1 TD on the ground to QBs.
Only Buffalo and New England have allowed fewer TDs passing than Baltimore and Pittsburgh may have allowed 19 of them, 6 of them came in the first two weeks to Tom Brady and Russell Wilson.
Here is how some of Twitter feels. Feel free to weigh in yourself.
In 1 QB redraft, are you starting Josh Allen again this year?
Week 14 vs BAL
Week 15 @ PIT
Week 16 @ NE
— David Willsey FF (@willson8tor) December 8, 2019
Devin Singletary RB, Buffalo Bills
VS BAL, @ PIT, @ NE
Similarly to his quarterback, Devin Singletary, the electric rookie back in Buffalo has been putting together a solid year. Since he has started to see a usage increase, Singletary was seeing minimal volume before and after his injury but he was being highly efficient on that volume. In Week 9, the rookie took over the majority role and has run with it. In the first eight weeks, he did not have a single game with more than 10 opportunities (Rush Attempts + Targets = Opportunities).
He is receiving 19 touches and 96.8 total yards with 0.4 total TD per game making Singletary the RB8 in that stretch. Granted, he caught a TD from WR John Brown in Week 13 which is not something to count on. Regardless, the kid has been solid.
The matchups for the running game are no better than those for the passing game. Obviously, Singletary and Allen will face the same teams and they are all good against the run and pass. Singletary will face the seventh, sixth, and number one toughest matchup for RBs in three consecutive weeks. New England and Pittsburgh have allowed 7 total TDs which is 4 fewer than Baltimore’s season total. They allowed 6 of those in the first three weeks of the season and have allowed 5 since then.
Tyler Lockett WR, Seattle Seahawks
@ LAR, @ CAR, VS ARI
This is not a concern for Tyler Lockett due to his previous two games in which he caught 1 total pass. The Seahawks top WR was coming off a game in which he had a leg injury and tried to play the following week. Then last week, Lockett missed practice through most of the week with the flu and still had symptoms following the game. We will assume that he is at full strength for Week 14-16.
The Matchups are not exactly the reason Lockett could bust. He will not be facing defenses that a WR of his skill set can have success against but also defenses that the Seattle RBs should be able to dominate. The Rams generally play the Hawks tough but when Russell Wilson threw 4 TDs in the earlier meeting, Lockett caught 4 for 51 yards and hauled in 1 of the TDs. Not exactly a boom week and as a whole this season, the Rams are allowing the 13th fewest PPR points to the position. Just 2.8 points per game more than the sixth-best team.
Following Week 14, Seattle faces the second and 10th best matchups for RB production in Weeks 15 and 16. Carolina has allowed 22 TDs to backs which is by far the most of any team. The last time SEA faced ARI, Seahawks RBs totaled 149 total yards on 29 touches with 1 TD. Lockett again caught 4 for 51 yards. He always has WR1 upside so sitting Lockett is a risk but playing him lately has been as well.
Kyle Rudolph TE, Minnesota Vikings
VS DET, @ LAC, VS GB
Kyle Rudolph will be worth starting in Week 14 because Adam Thielen will remain out. This will only build false hope in the Redzone Reindeer. The below Tweet is part of a thread in which the changes for the offense are detailed and Kyle Rudolph has seen by far the biggest boost without Thielen in the lineup. His production has jumped by more than double but will this be able to continue? Likely not as
A: Thielen should be back in Week 15. That is going to be a risk I am willing to take.
B: Rudolph has caught 5 TDs in five games and unless you are Gronk, this is a pace not sustainable.
Start Rudolph against the Lions but more so because the high value touches, not because Detroit allows a lot of points to the position (11.8 per game).
like a top4 fantasy TE but when Thielen does return, expect that to tak a significant hit if you've been relying on him. Thielen had 6 red zone tgt from wk 4-6. This week DET is middle of pack vs TE. 11.8 PPR points p/g. The next player, despite changes has stayed bellcow
— David Willsey FF (@willson8tor) December 7, 2019
Winning It All
Who will it be in 2019? Christian McCaffrey, Lamar Jackson, Michael Thomas, and Travis Kelce are obvious choices to wind up on championship rosters. We are here to look at some under the radar guys that have a chance to put together a stretch of games that can raise your team to a championship level.
Carson Wentz QB, Philadelphia Eagles
VS NYG, @ WAS, VS DAL
Carson Wentz has yet to really mee the expectations that were set upon him. 2019 has been no different. Through the first six games of the season, the Eagles QB was averaging 243 yards passing with 2 TDs per game. Wentz even scored a TD on the ground and was the QB9 in fantasy. Then from Week 7-12, Wentz averaged 214.4 yards passing with just 1 TD per game on nearly the same attempt volume with a similar completion % (wk 1-6 21.8/ 35.7, 61.21%/ wk 7-12 22.4/34.8, 64.37%). You can see Wentz’s consistency in 2019 using the FFStatistics Yearly Data App.
One big difference? The injuries have ruined the Eagles offense. The Eagles have lost the following players for at least one game this year:
RBs: Jordan Howard, Darren Sproles, and Corey Clement
WRs: Nelson Agholor, DeSean Jackson, Alshon Jeffery
TE: Dallas Goedert
Wentz’s weapons started to return in Week 13 and they faced a beatable matchup in the Miami Dolphins. The result was a 3 TD, 310 yards passing day. Wentz has also added about a 2 point rushing floor since Week 6.
The Eagles take on the New York Giants who are one of eight teams allowing 22+ fantasy points per game to QBs, The Washington Redskins who he torched for 313 yards passing and 3 TDs. Then in what could decide the NFC East, Philadelphia welcomes the Dallas Cowboys and their battered defense that has allowed four of the last seven QBs to exceed 21 fantasy points. This includes Jeff Driskel of the Detroit Lions dropping 31+ points and Mitch Trubisky totaling 4 TDs in the first game of Week 14.
Chris Carson/ Rashaad Penny RB, Seattle Seahawks
@ LAR, @ CAR, VS ARI
It seems like the Seattle Seahawks have found the two-headed monster they desired in the backfield. Chris Carson, despite the fumbling issues, is still the RB11 in standard and 10 in PPR. Look out though. Over the past 2 weeks, Rashaad Penny is the RB2 in standard and RB4 in PPR. Seattle is in the midst of a playoff race and has every incentive to play all their guys to the end and the running backs could be the biggest beneficiary.
In Week 14, Seattle plays the Los Angeles Rams, as we covered above. In the last three matchups between the two teams, the top-two Seattle RBs (with exception to this season) have all either rushed for 100+ yards, scored on the ground or through the air, or both. Carson was able to achieve both earlier this season. The strategy should be similar in Week 14 especially following the Rams acquisition of star cornerback, Jalen Ramsey. Seattle rushes for slightly more yardage per game on the road (13.55) and this game will be in Los Angeles.
Following Week 14, Seattle takes on the number 2 matchup for RBs. Carolina has allowed 22 total TDs to backs. Seattle should be able to take full advantage of this matchup. Week 16, Seattle welcomes the Arizona Cardinals. Seahawk backs totaled 149 yards on 29 touches with a TD.
DeVante Parker WR, Miami Dolphins
@NYJ, @NYG, VS CIN
Is this real? Has he finally arrived and all it took was a little Fizmagic? Miami Dolphins WR, DeVante Parker is seeing the classic fifth-year breakout. That is a joke. Most had given up on Parker but with the help of Ryan Fitzpatrick, Parker has excelled. Since Week 7, the Phins top wideout is the WR3 in PPR. Let that sink in.
The question is will it last or is it just a hot stretch? I think the answer lies in Fitzpatrick himself. You know he is going to never shy away from a difficult throw or a chance to hit someone deep. The Dolphins can not run the ball and Parker has seen the benefits. He is averaging 5.7 receptions, 9.3 targets, 89.3 yards and 0.6 TDs per game in the span of seven games. There have been just two of the seven with fewer than 10 targets.
Parker now gets a depleted New York Jets secondary that he caught 4/6 targets for 57 yards and 1 TD against when they were healthier. Miami will travel the MetLife Stadium next to face the Giants defense that allows the second-most PPR points to receivers and has given up 18 TDs to the position (third-most) and 2,354 receiving yards (second-most).
Finally, the Dolphins get the Cincinnati Bengals. A team that does not really allow a lot to WRs but it is in large part due to the work that they give up to RBs. The Bengals have faced the third-fewest pass attempts (184), yet have given up 9 TDs to wideouts. In comparison, the New England Patriots have faced 242 attempts and given up 2 TDs. Miami can not run the ball.
Jack Doyle TE, Indianapolis Colts
@ TB, @ NO, VS CAR
Jack Doyle is just about the last man standing in Indianapolis. Their list of injured weapons might run longer than the Eagles’ (above). Doyle has the chance to benefit greatly from this as the main red zone weapon from 2018, Eric Ebron, is on injured reserve. Doyle was able to capitalize in Week 13 catching 6 of 11 targets for 73 yards receiving and a score. Doyle had 12 targets in the four previous games combined. Below you can see what Eric Ebron had done when given the full role as well. Nearly double the volume and a significant increase in everything else with exception to TDs. It is Doyle’s turn.
Part of the reason Doyle could help win you the chip is the expected volume. Being one of the last standings should keep Doyle’s target floor high. You saw Ebron received 8.8 per game without Doyle active in 2018. He will start off facing the Tampa Bay Buccaneers and their fourth-best defensive matchup for TEs. TB has allowed the fourth-most receiving yards, third-most TDs and all on the eighth-most targets to the position. Doyle will eat.
The New Orleans Saints are next up and Volume will be key here. New Orleans is middle of the pack but they have also not faced a lot of targets to TEs. Just 76 on the year whereas a team like TB has seen 95. Finally the Carolina Panthers. Another so-so matchup but also another matchup that has seen minimal volume (59 targets). Doyle right now is likely the first or second read on passing plays and the first choice in the red zone. This could be the surprise TE to help you advance your way through.
Let’s Go Get It
I hope the 2019 Fantasy Football Playoff Primer: Parts 1 & 2 were helpful in helping you set up a successful playoff run, capped off by a 2019 championship. If you need to check out the first part, it can be found here. Also, check out this week’s waiver wire, start or sit, and weekly mailbag for the extra info needed to make the right decisions that bring it home for you. Good Luck in the playoffs everyone!