Championship week tight ends

Championship week tight ends

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1. Aaron Hernandez at JAC

In the last three weeks Aaron Hernandez has 43 targets. That's more than any player in the NFL except Calvin Johnson, who has 50. His 19 targets, 10 receptions, 92 yards and a score last week vaulted many teams into the championship game. This week he faces a Jaguars team that has given up the most touchdowns to the tight end position over the last five weeks. I kind of like those odds.

2. Jason Witten vs. NO

Whoa crazy crazy! Jason Witten scored his second touchdown of the season last week against the Steelers. This is impressive for two reasons. First, Witten has caught 97 balls this season for two touchdowns. You almost need to be trying not to score to accomplish that feat. Second, the Steelers had only allowed one touchdown in the previous nine games. Do you know who's given up more than that? The Saints. New Orleans has given up five touchdowns to tight ends in the last six weeks and allowed six or more receptions to a tight end three times in that time frame. Witten seems like one of the safest plays of the week.

3. Tony Gonzalez at DET

Only Jason Witten has more receptions and yards among the tight end position than Tony Gonzalez, and only Rob Gronkowski has more touchdowns than Gonzo. All are impressive for any player, let alone a 36-year old who is eyeing retirement. This week he plays a Saturday night game against a Lions club that has yielded a tight end touchdown in five of their last eight games, although they have held every tight end they've faced in the last four weeks to fewer than 50 yards.

4. Greg Olsen vs. OAK

Greg Olsen has been surprisingly solid in the second half of the season. He's topped 40 yards in each of his last seven games and has scored four times in the last six weeks. Unless you're rocking Gronk or Graham in your lineup, you can't expect much more than that. This week Carolina hosts an Oakland team that has allowed the fourth-most receptions and the fifth-most touchdowns to opposing tight ends. Making Olsen look like he's in line for another decent Sunday.

5. Kyle Rudolph at HOU

It's been hit or miss recently for Kyle Rudolph. Like hitting the broadside of a barn or trying to catch flying salmon swimming upriver. In the last six games, Rudolph has scored in three games and in those three contests he's averaging six catches and has had more than 50 yards every time. In the other three games he's failed to record a catch in two contests and had a three catch, 22-yard day. So why is he a "hit" this week? Houston can defend the run, can't defend the pass, and the Vikings have no other pass catching options. In the last two weeks the Texans have given up three touchdowns to opposing tight ends.

6. Brandon Myers at CAR

Three weeks ago, Brandon Myers had 14 catches, 130 yards and a touchdown. In the two weeks since then, he's had three total catches for 22 yards. There is your playoff dagger. If you've survived Myers' terrible numbers, he's a decent start this week against the Panthers. Carolina is tough against the pass, but has a tendency of being beaten by the tight end. The Panthers have given up four touchdowns to the position in the last five weeks including one to Antonio Gates last weekend.

7. Jimmy Graham at DAL

Rumor has it that Jimmy Graham has been battling a wrist injury for most of the season. While that may explain the fact that he's failed to top 70 yards in six straight and hasn't scored since Week 11, it's still frustrating. The bright side: he's had at least four receptions in eight straight and had at least 55 yards in each of his last three. He's not a forgotten part of the offense, it's just not working out right now. This week he squares off against a Dallas team that has been good against opposing tight ends recently, but just allowed Heath Miller to grab seven catches for 92 yards and a score last week.

8. Heath Miller vs. CIN

I wonder what Heath Miller did last week? Well, for the second time in three weeks Miller topped 90 yards and scored in the same game. He's been really solid this season and could be near the top of the second tier of tight ends in next year's cheat sheet. This week Miller faces off against the Bengals. Cincy has been absolutely magnificent against the pass this season, but middle-of-the-pack against tight ends. The Bengals have given up 49 or more yards to a tight end in three of the last five games, so I'm not afraid to start Miller this week, but I wouldn't expect last week's numbers out of him.

9. Dennis Pitta vs. NYG

I hate to toot my own horn, but "TOOT TOOT!" That's two toots for two great calls on Dennis Pitta in each of the last two weeks. It's probably the only thing I got right all season, but let's celebrate the positives. Pitta's seven catches for 125 yards and two scores propelled many a squad to the championship game, making many excited about his championship matchup with the Giants. Well, pull back the reigns, it's not going to be nearly as good this week. In the last six weeks the Giants have held tight ends as a group to 56 or fewer yards, that includes matchups with Tony Gonzalez and Jimmy Graham in the last two weeks.

10. Owen Daniels vs. MIN

At one point this season, Owen Daniels had scored in five out of six games, but since then he's reached paydirt only once in the last five games. There's not a lot of bright side from Daniels' recent numbers, so we'll focus on his opponent, the Vikings. Minnesota has given up a touchdown to a tight end in three of their last five games , but no tight end that has scored on them this season has topped 53 yards. So we're looking at 50 yards and a score as Daniels' ceiling this week, which most people could live with, but he likely won't give your team a crazy game like Dennis Pitta did last week.

Other options…

11. David Thomas at DAL

12. Marcedes Lewis vs. NE

13. Jermichael Finley vs. TEN

14. Dallas Clark vs. STL

15. Ben Watson at DEN

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