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Fantasy Football Tight End Preparation for Week 13

Dalton Schultz - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, NFL Injury News

Week 13 won't be easy for fantasy managers at the tight end position. Of course, with this dreadful position, no week is ever reason. However, this week we'll all have to figure it out with guys like T.J. Hockenson, Cole Kmet, Dalton Kincaid, and Isaiah Likely all on bye. Not to mention, we're missing Dallas Goedert, Mark Andrews, Darren Waller, and Luke Musgrave due to injury. Another injury to track this week is Trey McBride. He was listed as a DNP with a groin injury yesterday. Wednesday practice reports are often overly cautious, but it's something to pay attention to anyway. If McBride can't go, that would be another major hit to an already depleted position this week.

Despite us being 12 weeks into the season, there are some changing roles that we can identify and focus on. There were some pretty big changes in Houston and Atlanta the past few weeks with their tight ends and it'll be something fantasy managers will want to track in the upcoming games. It's been a brutal year for one of the most difficult positions. Not only has the tight end position been hit hard due to injuries, but the quarterback position has been decimated. For a position like tight ends so dependent on touchdowns, that has been a major blow to tight end scoring. Alas, the show must go on.

In this article, we'll be addressing some changing trends at the tight end position. We'll also be looking at some of the most important stats for fantasy managers to look at when valuing tight ends. This article will also include my weekly rankings and transactions fantasy managers should be looking to make with tight ends. This will include players to add and cut. If you have any tight end-related questions, don't hesitate to message me on X @RobFFSlayer. Let's get to Week 13's edition of Tight End Preparation.

Editor's Note: Our incredible team of writers won two writing awards and received 12 award nominations by the Fantasy Sports Writers Association. A big congrats to our very own Byron Lindeque (Golf) and Jordan McAbee (NASCAR) for both winning Writer Of The Year awards! Be sure to follow RotoBaller's analysis and advice all year long, and win more. Win More With RotoBaller!

 

Weeks 1-12 Statistical Review

With receivers, we can often look at raw target data and target share to get a pretty good idea of which players will be productive and which ones we should be chasing. With the tight end position, that’s not quite as effective because with smaller numbers, even just 1-2 extra or fewer targets can make a difference in target share numbers.

Instead, we want to focus on opportunity, which includes raw targets, target share, snap share, the raw number of routes run, and route participation rate. Below is a table based on nine weeks of the NFL season. These statistics are based on the numbers and stats found at PFF, which is an incredible site filled with amazing data.

Player Snap Share Route Participation Routes Run Target Share Targets Per Game - Sorted Red Zone Targets
T.J. Hockenson 80% 84% 499 24.1% 9.3 12
Evan Engram 75% 86% 434 22.3% 7.4 3
Darren Waller 85% 85% 255 21.4% 7.0 4
Sam LaPorta 83% 81% 433 19.2% 6.9 7
David Njoku 82% 81% 451 19.5% 6.9 11
Dalton Schultz 71% 72% 442 15.8% 5.9 12
Logan Thomas 71% 77% 486 13.2% 5.9 7
Dalton Kincaid 67% 74% 452 16.4% 5.8 6
Dallas Goedert 89% 86% 354 17.4% 5.7 7
Kyle Pitts 61% 75% 400 17.4% 5.7 4
George Kittle 89% 88% 353 19.1% 5.6 9
Cole Kmet 85% 76% 437 17.9% 5.5 11
Jake Ferguson 72% 72% 436 14.8% 5.5 18
Trey McBride 60% 47% 455 16.4% 5.1 4
Tyler Higbee 91% 84% 420 13.1% 4.6 3
Hunter Henry 75% 70% 421 11.8% 4.6 4
Cade Otton 97% 87% 434 13.2% 4.6 8
Tyler Conklin 68% 66% 444 13.3% 4.5 4
Luke Musgrave 71% 76% 343 13.4% 4.5 6
Chigoziem Okonkwo 66% 68% 365 15.2% 4.4 3
Jonnu Smith 57% 60% 400 12.1% 4.4 6
Pat Freiermuth 61% 66% 164 12.9% 4.1 4
Isaiah Likely 74% 86% 69 13.8% 4.0 2
Dawson Knox 68% 64% 274 11.3% 3.8 6
Juwan Johnson 73% 73% 271 11.7% 3.6 5
Gerald Everett 57% 52% 341 9.4% 3.4 5
Taysom Hill 41% 40% 457 7.3% 2.7 4
Michael Mayer 70% 53% 426 8.6% 2.6 4

Pat Freiermuth's Big Return

Freiermuth actually returned in Week 11, but not surprisingly appeared to be on a snap count of sorts. He played just 56% of the snaps and ran a route on just 51% of the team's dropbacks. While his Week 12 snap share didn't increase all that much, up to 59%, his route participation rate increased a ton. That bounced all the way up to 68% and he made the most out of his increased opportunity by having arguably the best game of his career. He finished with 11 targets, nine receptions, and 120 yards. He finished with a 33.3% target share. While most may believe the target hierarchy in Pittsburgh is likely to be Diontae Johnson, then George Pickens, and then Freiermuth, I wouldn't be so sure.

For starters, Freiermuth finished 2022 with more targets per game and a higher target share than Pickens. In fact, Freiermuth's targets per game average and his target share were closer to Johnson's number than Pickens' numbers were to his. Among 33 qualifying quarterbacks on the season, Kenny Pickett has just a 7.1 intended air yards per attempt average. That is the ninth-lowest.

Pickett doesn't throw deep. He ranks 24th among quarterbacks in total air yards and has just 26 deep-ball attempts (passes that travel more than 20 air yards), which ranks 26th in the NFL. These numbers indicate a quarterback who is most likely going to take the shorter, easier throws. That is in a tight end's wheelhouse.

Fantasy managers can sometimes have short-term memory. Freiermuth has struggled through an injury-ravaged 2023 season, but don't forget just how good he was in 2022, just his second season. He finished that year with a 19% target share, which ranked ninth among tight ends, and a 25% targets per route run average, which ranked seventh. He was eighth in air yards share at 18.4% and had the seventh-best yards per route run average at 1.86. He was really good last year! Freiermuth should be considered a top-12 tight end for the rest of the season.

 

Dalton Schultz's Fantasy Value Could Be Fading

Fantasy managers should be awfully concerned about what has happened with Schultz over the past two weeks. From Weeks 5-8, Schultz averaged 12.5 half-PPR PPG and was the TE4 during that stretch. Teammate Brevin Jordan played just 14 total snaps during this five-game period. Schultz's route participation ballooned to 77%. He also generated a 22% target share during this time and averaged eight targets per game. His route participation was only at 72% in Weeks 1-4.

In the last two weeks, Weeks 11 and 12, his route participation has dropped to a dangerously low 63%. That is a major red flag. This seems to have correlated with Jordan's return. He missed Weeks 7-10, but returned in Week 11 and played 22% of the snaps. This past weekend, he played over 43% of the snaps. The table below shows the utilization of both players from this past weekend.

Player Snaps Routes Targets Target Share
Dalton Schultz 48.3% 47.8% 2 5.8%
Brevin Jordan 43.3% 43.4% 1 2.9%

From Weeks 5-10, Schultz's route participation was above 70% in every game. It was above 75% in four out of the five. Not surprisingly, the extra routes ran helped Schultz increase his overall target share and targets per game. This is why it's so crucial to pay attention to a tight end's route participation rate and their raw route run data.

With the decrease in his route participation these last two weeks, Schultz's target share followed. He has just five targets, three receptions, and 34 yards in the last two games. He has just a 6.8% target share in the last two weeks, which is on par with Taysom Hill's seasonal target share.

Fantasy managers shouldn't be doing anything rash as of yet, such as dropping Schultz, but he's no longer a must-start option. He comes in at TE12 for me this week, but with tight ends such as Dallas Goedert and Darren Waller out due to injury and Hockenson, Kmet, Kincaid, and Likely all on bye, his TE12 ranking would actually be much, much lower.

Another thing to consider, while the Broncos have allowed the most points to tight ends this season, their defense has been on an absolute tear as of late. Since Week 6, they've gone up against the Chiefs with Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce (twice), Josh Allen and the Bills, the Packers, Vikings, and Browns. Those six opponents have averaged 16.5 points per game.

Kelce averaged 12.8 half-PPR PPG against them, which is lower than his season average. This defense has been playing great as of late, which makes Schultz and his seemingly declining role even more problematic this week. His value is falling and his route participation in the next few weeks is something fantasy managers will have to keep track of.

Receiver Injuries in New Orleans Make Both Juwan Johnson and Taysom Hill Appealing Starts

The New Orleans Saints offense is going through some significant injury issues among their pass-catchers. Michael Thomas is currently on IR and will not be eligible this upcoming weekend. Fellow receivers Rashid Shaheed and Chris Olave are also injured. Shaheed has a quad injury and left Week 12 early after playing just 25% of the snaps.

It has already been reported that Shaheed is a long shot for this weekend. Olave was ruled out after playing just 45% of the team's snaps last week due to a concussion. Recovery times for concussions tend to vary between players, but generally, the concussion protocol tends to make it difficult for players to pass through in a week's time. Olave should be considered, at best, 50/50 for this week's game. If Olave is not active in Week 13, Derek Carr will find himself without his top three pass-catchers.

Those injuries already began to pay dividends for Juwan Johnson in Week 12. He finished with seven targets, four receptions, and 45 yards. The targets and yards were both season-highs for him. Johnson, after an encouraging 2022 season, has had difficulty forging a consistent role in a New Orleans offense that has featured Olave, Thomas, Shaheed, and Alvin Kamara.

However, Johnson is going to, by default, climb almost to the top of Carr's target hierarchy in Week 13. Last year, when he was largely only competing with Olave, Johnson finished with a 14.1% target share. He also had 609 air yards, which ranked ninth among tight ends. He was also 13th in yards per target at 7.8, 12th in yards per reception at 12.1, and 12th with 11 red zone targets. He's proven to be a capable pass-catcher and he'll get that opportunity this weekend.

The Lions are allowing the 14th-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends this season at 9.9 half-PPR points per game. The Lions and Saints game also has an implied point total of 45.5. It's one of the higher expected point totals of the weekend. Hill also finds himself in a good spot. The Saints have utilized Hill on the ground as they have in recent years with him averaging 5-6 carries per game for around 25 yards.

However, his role in the passing game has grown significantly. He is currently averaging just under three targets, two receptions, and 20 yards per game. Overall, he is averaging over seven touches per game and almost 50 yards. Among all players, Hill is 16th with 13 carries inside the 10-yard line. With the expected point total of this game, Hill has a good chance to find the end zone. Both Johnson and Hill are completely viable streamers this week and should be viewed as top-12 options, especially with Kincaid, Hockenson, Kmet, and Likely all on bye weeks.

 

Jonnu Smith's Role Declined

From Weeks 2-8, Smith's snap share had never fallen below 53% and his route participation had never fallen below 60%. However, in the past three weeks, his role has been on the decline. In Week 9, he played just 54% and ran a route on 53% of the dropbacks. He still managed to finish with six targets, five receptions, 100 yards, and a touchdown, but the decline in both snap share and route participation became something to monitor. In Week 10, his snap share dropped to 43%, but his route participation bounced back up to 67%. He finished with just two targets and one reception for a single yard.

This past weekend, his snap share dropped all the way down to 35% and his route participation was at 38%. He did not receive a single target. This is now three weeks in a row where Smith's role has declined and fantasy managers should be expecting the same trend to continue. Smith had been a viable, deep-league streamer in the right matchups, but he is no longer that.

Unfortunately, his decreased role doesn't seem to have had the opposite effect on teammate Kyle Pitts, which may have been the assumption. This past weekend, he ran a route on just 67% of the team's routes and finished with two targets, two receptions, and 22 yards. There was no improvement in Pitts' volume in Weeks 9 or 10 either. In those two weeks, he has a combined 10 targets, seven receptions, and 86 yards.

The Falcons have targeted their tight ends 112 times this season. They have totaled 76 receptions, 908 yards, and zero touchdowns. There has been plenty of volume directed to the tight end position in Atlanta, but it hasn't helped Pitts be a productive fantasy player. Smith, with his declining role, can be entirely ignored. Pitts' fantasy value unfortunately hasn't risen with Smith's decline. Fantasy managers should continue to value Pitts as a high-end TE2. He's an okay start in good matchups but is otherwise someone fantasy managers can easily avoid as well.

 

New Starter in Green Bay

Luke Musgrave has been a full-time player for the Packers this season, despite being a rookie. He left Week 4 due to an injury with just a 25% snap share, but if we eliminate that game, his snap share stands at 76% this season. His route participation has been at or near 80% the entire season.

He lacerated his kidney in Week 11 and has since been put on IR. He won't be eligible to come off IR until Week 16 against the Carolina Panthers. Fantasy football playoffs typically run in Weeks 15-17. If he does return in Week 16, he may not immediately return to his full-time role in his very first game back.

Even if he gets a one-game warm-up in Week 16, it'll be tough to trust him in Week 17 in the fantasy football championship. In the meantime, fellow rookie tight end Tucker Kraft has assumed Musgrave's role. In Week 12, Kraft played over 96% of the team's snaps and ran a route on almost 88% of the team's dropbacks.

Snaps Routes Targets Target Share
96.4% 87.8% 2 6.9%

While Kraft didn't do much with the opportunity, the opportunity is just that, opportunity. It's potential. Musgrave has just a 13.4% target share and is averaging 4.5 targets per game. That volume isn't especially great and through 10 games, Musgrave has just a 5.7 half-PPR PPG average.

Fantasy managers shouldn't get their hopes up too high for Kraft, but if you're looking for a full-time player with some varying level of potential, Kraft could be that guy. He had a decent college dominator of 21.7%, which is in the 68th percentile, and he's an elite athlete. These two areas have positively correlated with fantasy football success at the tight end position.

The downside is that the Packers are currently using four different receivers with regularity. Jayden Reed, Romeo Doubs, Christian Watson, and Dontayvion Wicks are all getting regular playing time and seeing 3-7 targets per game. That is going to make it awfully difficult for Kraft to maintain consistent production. However, there are very few tight ends who will be playing as many snaps and running as many routes as Kraft over the next three weeks.

 

Chargers Tight End Duo

With all the injuries the Chargers have been hit with at receiver and the complete inadequacy of rookie receiver Quentin Johnston, fantasy managers have understandably been interested in both Gerald Everett and Donald Parham Jr., the two tight ends for Los Angeles.

Everett was a solid TE2 last year when Keenan Allen and Mike Williams both struggled with injuries. However, Parham also struggled with injuries in 2022. This year, despite similar injury concerns at the receiver position, neither tight end has been able to establish a consistent role in the offense. In fact, both players have essentially vultured each other. Everett hurts Parham. Parham hurts Everett and in the end, both players have been essentially useless.

Player Snaps Routes Targets Target Share
Gerald Everett 63.6% 56.8% 4 10.0%
Donald Parham Jr. 42.4% 43.1% 0 0.0%

Everett missed Week 11 but returned in Week 12. The result was a split that rendered both players ineffective for fantasy purposes. Neither player ran a route on more than 57% of the dropbacks. Because the team has continued to use both players at the expense of the other, fantasy managers are left without even a streamable tight end from one of the most pass-heavy offenses desperate for pass-catchers.

Everett's seasonal route participation rate of 52% is closer to Taysom Hill's than it is to Chigoziem Okonkwo's. Parham's route participation for the 2023 season is basically identical to Hill's. Take Hill's rushing stats away and you have nothing. That's what's left with both of these Charger tight ends. Unless one of them is inactive, they can both be completely ignored. If you're in a super deep league and desperate for a tight end, target Everett before Parham, but surely there must be a better option.

 

Weekly Tight End Transactions

  • Add and Stream Juwan Johnson in Week 13
  • Stream Taysom Hill in Week 13
  • Add and Start Pat Freiermuth on a Weekly Basis
  • Add and Start Isaiah Likely on a Weekly Basis
  • Do not consider adding Tyler Higbee, despite last week's two-touchdown performance
  • Drop Jonnu Smith
  • Stash Greg Dulcich

 

Week 13 Tight End Rankings

Rank Player Half-PPR PPG Opponent Fantasy Points Allowed to TEs
Team Implied Point Total
1 Travis Kelce 13.6 @ Packers 9.6 (15) 24.50
2 Sam LaPorta 10.5 @ Saints 10.0 (12) 24.75
3 Trey McBride 6.8 @ Steelers 7.5 (25) 17.00
4 George Kittle 10.9 @ Eagles 10.3 (11) 24.75
5 Evan Engram 7.5 vs Bengals 12.3 (2) 24.00
6 David Njoku 7.7 @ Rams 11.1 (6) 17.50
7 Pat Freiermuth 6.5 vs Cardinals 8.1 (23) 22.50
8 Logan Thomas 7.2 vs Dolphins 10.0 (12) 20.50
9 Jake Ferguson 7.8 vs Seahawks 8.3 (22) 27.50
10 Juwan Johnson 4.2 vs Lions 9.9 (14) 20.75
11 Taysom Hill 8.4 vs Lions 9.9 (14) 20.75
12 Dalton Schultz 8.5 vs Broncos 13.4 (1) 24.75
13 Kyle Pitts 6.2 @ Jets 9.6 (16) 18.50
14 Hunter Henry 5.7 vs Chargers 10.9 (8) 17.25
15 Gerald Everett 5.8 @ Patriots 6.5 (29) 23.25
16 Chigoziem Okonkwo 3.8 vs Colts 11.0 (7) 20.50
17 Tucker Kraft 1.4 vs Chiefs 6.5 (29) 18.00
18 Cade Otton 6.5 vs Panthers 8.5 (21) 21.25
19 Tyler Higbee 5.6 vs Browns 4.8 (32) 22.00
20 Tyler Conklin 5.5 vs Falcons 11.4 (5) 15.50


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DeVon Achane - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL DFS Picks, Injury News

Next Gen Stats Review: 2023 Running Backs

Many know Next Gen Stats for the fastest ball carriers in the NFL, which tracks a player's top speed in miles per hour (mph) on a given play. DK Metcalf had a 73-yard touchdown score that registered 22.23 mph, with Chase Brown (22.05) and Tyreek Hill (22.01) making a reception as the only three players... Read More


Breakdown Of Dynasty Fantasy Football Leagues

Dynasty fantasy football leagues have been around for years, but with each new NFL season comes more people joining these types of leagues. If you are a redraft fan who doesn’t want the fantasy season to end, dynasty might be right up your alley.  The Senior Bowl has happened, NFL Draft excitement is ramping up,... Read More


Marvin Harrison Jr. - Fantasy Football Rankings, College FB, WR, NFL Draft Sleepers

Early 2024 Fantasy Football Rookie Rankings: Pre-NFL Draft

Hey, RotoBallers! With Super Bowl LVIII in the books, the 2024 NFL offseason has officially begun. It's never too early to start preparing for fantasy football, and here at RotoBaller, it's always fantasy football season here at HQ. We are already looking ahead to the 2024 season, and that starts with the NFL Draft and... Read More


Ja'Marr Chase - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS and Betting Picks

Top Fantasy Football Rebound Candidates For 2024 Including Patrick Mahomes, Josh Jacobs, and Drake London

We may be in the heat of basketball season, but we're discussing a different kind of rebound today. Some of the most talented athletes in the world have suboptimal seasons but there's often a bounceback year in the near future. The talent isn't waning, the circumstances surrounding them have been altered. Below we dive into... Read More


Jayden Reed - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

Early 2024 Wide Receiver Sleepers And Draft Targets For Fantasy Football

There should be a lot of changes atop the wide receiver group in fantasy football next year. Players like Stefon Diggs, Davante Adams, and Cooper Kupp will all fall in drafts, while Puka Nacua will fly up drafts boards in 2024. Nacua will go from undrafted in 2023 to a likely top-20 pick this upcoming... Read More


Dan Campbell - NFL Head Coach, NFC, Detroit Lions

FFPC Dynasty Fantasy Football Orphan Teams: An Authentic Challenge

At its very core, the game of fantasy football is intended to deliver a unique experience in which you are an NFL owner, general manager, and head coach, all in one role. Seasonal fantasy football replicates the responsibilities in fun, user-friendly packaging, but fantasy football dynasty leagues appeal even more to a savvy fantasy player... Read More


2024 Dynasty Rookie Mock Draft: Fantasy Football Studs, Sleepers, and Values

Football never sleeps at RotoBaller! With the Scouting Combine underway and the NFL Draft season heating up, the countdown is on for 2024 fantasy football. We're taking a first look at how things might shape up in Dynasty fantasy drafts with our first Rookie Mock Draft of 2024. RotoBaller analysts Brandon Murchison and LaQuan Jones... Read More


Dak Prescott - Fantasy Football Rankings, NFL Injury News, DFS Lineup Picks

Biggest Quarterback Surprises - Fantasy Football Year In Review

The 2023 fantasy football season is in the rearview mirror. While the upcoming fantasy season is still months away, it’s never too early to start preparing. One of the more critical things fantasy players can do to prepare is look back at the previous season and look at trends and surprises. Let’s look at the... Read More


Tyjae Spears - Fantasy Football Rankings, Draft Sleepers, Waiver Wire Pickups

Early 2024 Running Back Sleepers And Draft Targets For Fantasy Football

Running backs have always dominated the first round of fantasy drafts, but that has changed in recent years. Taking a wide receiver in the first round has become a more likely strategy by fantasy managers. In 2024 drafts, more wideouts should be going in the first round than running backs. However, that doesn't mean running... Read More


Latest Updates on Injured NFL Quarterbacks: Aaron Rodgers, Kirk Cousins, Anthony Richardson, Joe Burrow, Deshaun Watson, and Daniel Jones

The 2024 offseason is still in the early stages, but it's time to check on six franchise quarterbacks who suffered major injuries during the 2023 campaign. A franchise missing its quarterback to begin a season can mightily derail its chances to win, creating a massive hole to climb out of. We have the latest injury... Read More


Rome Odunze - College Football Rankings, NCAA CFB DFS Lineup Picks

Best Fantasy Football Landing Spots For 2024 Rookie Wide Receivers

With the NFL Draft quickly approaching, the ramifications of where some of these players get selected will have a significant impact on their fantasy football value. In dynasty leagues, fantasy managers may not worry about landing spots as much because once you draft them in that kind of league, you have them for their entire... Read More


Jayden Daniels - Fantasy Football Rankings, College FB, QB, NFL Draft Sleepers

Coach Knows Ball: Jayden Daniels 2024 NFL Draft Film Breakdown Of LSU QB

Welcome to Coach Knows Ball, an NFL Draft series analyzing the top prospects in the 2024 class. I'm a college football coach with nine years of NCAA experience and have been scouting NFL Draft prospects for over 15 years. This series will give a deep dive into the film of some of the top players... Read More


Rome Odunze - College Football Rankings, NCAA CFB DFS Lineup Picks

Top Five WR Prospects Of The 2024 NFL Draft: Scouting Reports And Analysis

Ah, the sweet season of the NFL Draft, the light at the end of the post-Super Bowl tunnel of despair. As the last bits of confetti find their resting places and the echoes of the game's final moments whisper into silence, we all start to dream a little bigger. It's this enchanted time when losses... Read More