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Week 12 Tight Ends - Waiver Wire Pickups and Adds

Fantasy footballers are not going to have the pleasure of using Travis Kelce this week.

The second and third-most explosive offenses in the NFL are off thanks to the Los Angeles Rams and Kelce’s Kansas City Chiefs being on bye. The Kelce owners especially have a wrench thrown into their lineup plans as he is irreplaceable unless you happen to have San Francisco’s George Kittle or Carolina’s Greg Olsen as your backup tight end. While there are no Kelce clones available on waivers in fantasy leagues at this late stage of the season, there are some one-week alternatives that could help you out if you are in a major bind at TE.

Without further ado, here are the best tight ends to pick up heading into Week 12. Good luck RotoBallers!

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TE Waiver Wire Options for Week 12

Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers – 43% owned

Brate’s fantasy value has been ruined this year due to Tampa Bay’s two-tight-end offense since he is the No. 2 tight end behind O.J. Howard. Howard has been phenomenal when he has been healthy, but he will not be healthy for the remainder of the year thanks to the season-ending foot and ankle injuries he suffered this past weekend.

Brate has not had a 40-yard game this season, though he did score touchdowns in three consecutive contests earlier in the season despite Howard hanging around. With Howard sidelined Brate can now return to being Jameis Winston’s favorite red-zone option like he was the past two years (14 touchdowns in 2016-17) and he should be able to average 40-50 yards on a weekly basis. Brate immediately shoots up the waiver wire Hot 100 charts to be the best tight end available in most leagues in the wake of Howard’s unfortunate injury.

Jeff Heuerman, Denver Broncos – 25% owned

Denver went into rebuilding mode by dealing longtime No. 1 receiver Demaryius Thomas at the trade deadline, and that was fine for Heuerman. After only being targeted 19 times in his first seven games of the season, Denver’s top tight end has been targeted 21 times over his last three contests and has become a favorite of quarterback Case Keenum faster than you can say “John Elway owns a lot of car dealerships!”

Heuerman is not going to make many defenders miss with cement feet, but he has the perfect size in the red zone and has flashed above-average hands in recent weeks now that he is having more passes thrown his way. Heuerman does not have an easy game this week against a Pittsburgh pass defense that has come a long way since the opening month of the campaign, but he is still one of the best options available in most leagues at the tight end position.

Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans – 12% owned

It takes pass catchers a little longer than other position players to adjust to the NFL game, and Smith is a prime example. It took the former 2017 third-round pick 23 games to catch 23 passes to start his career, but over his last three contests, he has 11 receptions for 122 yards and two touchdowns. With Tennessee’s wide receiver corps consisting of Corey Davis and a bunch of inconsistent, unproven youngsters, Smith has the perfect opportunity to become the second-best option in the Titans passing attack.

Smith will face a Houston Texans pass defense this week that has allowed Washington’s Jordan Reed and Denver’s aforementioned Jeff Heuerman to have their best games of the season against them over the past two weeks. The only strike against Smith is the availability of starting signal caller Marcus Mariota, who left the Titans game this past weekend with another arm injury. Smith’s fantasy stock takes a hit if Blaine Gabbert becomes the quarterback throwing to him.

Lance Kendricks, Green Bay Packers – 2% owned

Bummed about Jimmy Graham’s broken thumb? Look no further for a fantasy replacement than his real replacement. Kendricks is a durable veteran who has never done much for fantasy owners in the touchdown (19 TD in eight seasons) or yardage (one season of over 500 receiving yards) departments, but he now gets the chance to be the No. 1 tight end in an Aaron Rodgers offense.

Just because I have Kendricks listed in the column does not mean I predict he will have a half-dozen receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown this week. Kendricks is not a game changer or a game breaker. But if Heuerman and Smith are not available in your league and you need a tight end whose odds of scoring a touchdown this week just went up, Kendricks is a worthy nominee.


Other Tight End Options

Ed Dickson, Seattle Seahawks – 7% owned

Dickson has hauled in two touchdown tosses in his first four games since returning from injury. He is slated to face a Carolina defense that has been prone to allowing tight ends to get in the end zone, so this could be a match made in fantasy football heaven this weekend.

Antonio Gates, Los Angeles Chargers – 16% owned

Every time I think Gates should be put out to pasture, he takes a dip in the Fountain of Youth and surprises the fantasy football world with another great game. The 38-year-old future Hall of Famer is coming off his best outing of the season (5-80-1) and can be a spot starter for fantasy owners this week for his home game against lowly Arizona.

Follow Craig on Twitter @craigrondinone!

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