Written/Ranked by Daniel House
1. Rob Gronkowski @ NYJ
Gronk Rest-Ye Merry Gentlemen! Despite missing one game, Gronk still has accumulated the second-most tight end touchdowns and has added one score in three consecutive appearances. He’s exceeded 50 yards receiving in each of those games and has been targeted in double digits over two of those contests. We haven’t witnessed any ill-effects of his knee injury two weeks ago and he continues to be the focal point of the New England offense. He has touchdown grabs in every game but four and his total targets per game have actually started to rise over the last three weeks. The Jets have surrendered just two tight end scores this season, but Gronk put up 108 yards and a touchdown on New York earlier in the season.
2. Jordan Reed @ PHI
Over the last two weeks, Jordan Reed has quietly notched a combined 204 yards and three touchdowns. Not to mention, he’s hauled in seven or more receptions in three of his last four matchups. He has the third-most tight end scores (9) and is fourth in total targets. Over the last two weeks, Reed has tallied season-high targets inside the red zone. His production has been peaking as the year progresses and he has another favorable matchup this week. The Eagles defense has allowed two of their three tight end scores over the last five weeks, but they’ve faced nondescript pass catchers that don’t have a similar skill-set to Reed.
3. Greg Olsen @ ATL
Cam Newton will be a dabbing Santa this week and Greg Olsen is going to be Mrs. Claus. No tight end has accumulated more total targets (116) than Greg Olsen. What’s more, only Gronk has tallied more yardage through the air. Last week, Olsen accumulated his first touchdown in three weeks and his targets are starting to increase again. More importantly, he’s tallied over 50 yards receiving in a whopping ten consecutive contests. Two weeks ago, Olsen was targeted four times inside the 20-yard line and this type of production has been a consistent trend. What’s more. the Falcons defense has surrendered the fourth-most tight ends scores (8) and the third-most total yards.
4. Delanie Walker vs. HOU
Delaine Walker added just his second multiple touchdown performance last week. Not to mention, he’s added 12 or more targets in two of his last three matchups. Marcus Mariota is out for the season, but Zach Mettenberger is still capable of airing it out to Walker. He threw for almost 250 yards last week and has averaged over 30 attempts in each of his relief outings this season. Walker has ten consecutive contests with over 50 yards receiving and has been one of the main safety valves in this offense. More importantly, the Texans have allowed 50+ yards of receiving and one touchdown to opposing tight ends in two of their last three games.
5. Julius Thomas @ NO
Last week, Julius Thomas’ four-game touchdown streak was snapped, but he still managed to accumulate 79 yards of receiving. He’s added seven or more targets in four of his last five contests and is hitting stride as he tries to return to natural form. The Saints defense is about as wide-open as the sky when Santa’s reindeer are flying. New Orleans has allowed the most total yardage and the second-most touchdowns (10) to opposing tight ends. This includes a gargantuan 374 yards over the last five weeks of play. On the bright side, Christmas dinner will have leftovers this year since Rob Ryan is gone.
6. Gary Barnidge @ KC
Gary Barnidge has notched a least one touchdown in two consecutive performances and has been floating in dollar bills ever since Johnny Manziel returned. What’s more, he’s added 50+ yard receiving performances in each of his last five matchups. He’s accumulated seven red zone targets over the last three weeks and the Chiefs have the ninth-worst red zone touchdown allowance percentage (62%). Kansas City has surrendered just one tight end score over the last five weeks, but the Chiefs defense has allowed 50+ yards of receiving in two their last four contests.
7. Antonio Gates @ OAK
Antonio Gates has hauled in 50+ yard performances in five consecutive matchups, but has just two touchdowns to show for it. Each of Gates’ four total touchdowns this season have come in pairs. However, he’s averaging nine targets and six receptions per game over his last three contests. What’s more, the Raiders have been in the giving spirit against tight ends. No team has surrendered tight end touchdowns at a higher clip than the Oakland defense. They’ve allowed tight ends touchdowns in every game but four this year. More importantly, Gates has at least one touchdown against the Raiders in two of his last four matchups against them.
8. Benjamin Watson vs. JAC
Ben Watson has two scores over his last three games and has been a huge red zone target for Drew Brees. He’s accumulated a whopping 23 targets in his last two contests and is evolving in the offensive scheme as the season progresses. Brees has a plantar fascia injury, but it appears he’ll still play the final two games of the season. That’s good news as the Saints have the seventh-best red zone scoring percentage (62.5%) with Brees at the helm. He’s continually targeted Watson in those situations and it has consistently yielded positive results. Watson has tallied the sixth-most yards and scores (5) this year. What’s more, the Jaguars defense has allowed the fourth-most yards and touchdowns to opposing tight ends this year. Not to mention, tight ends have notched four scores over the last five weeks of play against Jacksonville.
9. Travis Kelce vs. CLE
Picture this: Andy Reid is dressed as Santa Claus. He’ singing “Santa Baby” and Chiefs fans are sneaking down the chimney to find him under the mistletoe. Kansas City fans are excited as the Chiefs have won eight games in a row. However, fantasy owners are frustrated with the inconsistency of Travis Kelce this year. He’s cracked 50 yards of receiving in just three of his last six games, adding just one touchdown over that span. Despite Jamaal Charles’ injury, Kelce has cracked double digit targets just once this season. The Browns have gone five consecutive weeks without allowing a tight end touchdown. However, the most notable tight over that stretch has been Heath Miller. All of the tight ends scores Cleveland has surrendered came against pass catchers with similar attributes to Kelce’s.
10. Austin Seferian-Jenkins vs. CHI
Austin Seferian-Jenkins has been channeling his inner Todd Heap, but he finally made a return after battling through a shoulder injury. He’s hauled in just three receptions in three consecutive contests, but he reached the end zone for the first time last week. The Bucs have the 11th-best red zone touchdown scoring percentage over the last three games and that’s where Seferian-Jenkins flourishes most. He’s hauled in at least two red zone catches in three of his five total games this season. What’s more, teams have a 100% touchdown success rate inside the red zone over the last three games against Chicago. Additionally, the Bears have allowed 171 yards and a score to tight ends over the last three weeks of play.
11. Zach Miller @ TB
Zach Miller has notched over 50 yards of receiving in consecutive games and has added one touchdown over that span. He’s saw more action since Martellus Bennett went on injured reserve. What’s more, he’s hauled in the sixth-most scores (5) among tight ends. His receptions and targets have slowly increased and he’s becoming a respectable option in the Bears offense. The Bucs haven’t surrendered a tight end touchdown in five weeks, but they’ve allowed consecutive 50+ yard performances.
12. Richard Rodgers @ ARZ
A few weeks ago, Packer fans already got a gift for Christmas. It was Richard Rodgers catching a hail mary to beat the LOLions. Talk about the best gift EVER! At the start of the year, did anyone imagine Richard Rodgers would have the fourth-most total scores (7) among tight ends? If you did, go by a lottery ticket before you open gifts on Friday. Most of Rodgers’ success has come inside the red zone. He has just one game where he has exceeded 50 yards of receiving. However, he has corralled touchdowns in two of his last three contests. What’s more, the Cardinals defense has surrendered four tight end scores over the last five weeks of play.
*13. Tyler Eifert @ DEN
Tyler Eifert could be back after he missed last week’s game with a concussion. It’s important to monitor his status and to remain cautious as he attempts to return this week. Combine his injury with quarterback A.J. McCarron running the show and I get a little more concerned. Nonetheless, Eifert is still the highest targeted tight end inside the red zone and has three touchdowns over the last three matchups. Tyler Eifert at half strength is a bet I’m still taking. Denver has allowed 50+ yards of receiving to opposing tight ends in four consecutive contests and pass catchers have tallied three touchdown grabs in their last five contests.
14. Zach Ertz vs. WSH
Zach Ertz has finally started to see a role in Chip Kelly’s game plan. He’s accumulated a combined 176 yards and a touchdown over the last two weeks. Not to mention, he’s tallied a whopping 20 targets over that same span. Sam Bradford has been targeting Ertz more down the field and up the seam. By doing this, he’s been able to flash his skill-set more consistently. Ertz is peaking as the season progresses and has his two lone touchdown scores over the last three weeks. Finally, the Redskins have surrendered two 50+ yard receiving performances and a touchdown over the last two matchups.
15. Eric Ebron vs. SF
Last week, Eric Ebron tallied his highest receiving performance (79 yards) of the season. He’s reached the end zone just once over the last three weeks, but he has a favorable matchup this week. The 49ers have the sixth-worst red zone touchdown allowance percentage (63%) and Detroit has the highest touchdown scoring percentage (71%) inside the 20-yard line. That translates into the chance Ebron sees more targets as the Lions game plan for this weakness. Ebron’s targets have been on the rise over the last two weeks and it’s hard to believe that trend won’t continue. The 49ers have surrendered just four tight end touchdowns this season, but have allowed scores in back-to-back weeks.
Will Tye @ MIN
Will Tye would be a nice stocking stuffer for your team if you run into a desperate situation at tight end. He has touchdowns in two consecutive contests and has been targeted 13 times over that stretch. Not to mention, he’s cracked 50+ yards of receiving in three of his last five matchups. In case you didn’t already know it, Odell Beckham Jr. is suspended. Mike Zimmer needs to pick up a Louisville Slugger before the game to spook the Giants. Anyways, during OBJ’s absence, Tye will pick up a few additional receptions. More importantly, the Vikings haven’t allowed 60+ yards of receiving to opposing tight ends in three of their last three matchups.