NFL DFS Week 12: Tight Ends Report - Darren Waller Poised For Big Week

An in-depth NFL DFS guide to the Week 12 tight ends to target and fade when setting your daily lineups.
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Week 12 NFL DFS Reports

Travis Kelce, KC (DK – $7,000/FD – $8,000)

Kelce has been in beast mode over his last three starts (8/109/1, 10/159, and 8/127/1) as Patrick Mahomes has shifted more to his top two receiving options. His explosion in stats created a 55.90-point fantasy gap over Darren Waller. Kelce would be the fourth-highest scoring wide receiver while also outscoring all running backs except Alvin Kamara and Dalvin Cook. His rise in production puts on a path for career-highs in 106 catches, 1,434 yards, and 11 touchdowns. Tampa Bay sits 18th in tight end defense (12.99 FPPG – 52/531/6). The Saints are the only team to deliver over 20.00 fantasy points (7/83/2). Both teams will score this week, giving Kelce a fourth straight outing of elite stats. Even with a rising salary at DraftKings, his ceiling is high enough to keep in play in Week 11.

Darren Waller, LV (DK – $6,000/FD – $7,100)

Waller has a touchdown in four of his past six starts, but he failed to fill his current salary bucket in any of those games. His best output (12/105/1) came in Week 2 on the road vs. the Saints. Waller has a midteen floor in most weeks. He still has a chance at 100-plus catches and double-digit touchdowns while falling short in yards per catch (8.6 – 12.7 in 2019). Atlanta played better defending tight ends over their last three games (4/34, 5/63, and 2/25) while still ranking at the bottom of the league (57/622/8). Most of the damage came in Week 2 (DAL – 11/122/1), Week 3 (CHI – 9/75/2), and Week 4 (GB – 6/98/3). Waller should be active in this matchup with a chance at over 100 yards receiving with a score. Don’t be afraid of playing both of the top two tight ends this week on the same lineup.

Hunter Henry, LAC (DK – $4,800/FD – $5,900)

The lack of trust in the back-end tight end inventory in 2020 led to fantasy owners pivoting to Henry over the past two weeks. He scored in back-to-back favorable matchups (MIA and NYJ), but Henry extended his streak with 50 yards or fewer to eight weeks. He averages 6.6 targets per game, which is well below the top two tight end options on Sunday in Week 11. Buffalo will come into this matchup with their eye on slowing down Keenan Allen while ranking 30th in the NFL defending tight ends (15.82 FPPG – 59/642/6). Over the past four weeks, the Bills played better against tight ends (0/0, 2/24, 8/99, and 4/34), which three of those opponents (NYJ, NE, and ARI) helped by lacking a pulse. Buffalo was drilled in four games (MIA – 9/134/1, LV – 12/114/1, TEN – 8/59/2, and KC – 8/59/2) by tight ends. Tough to dismiss as his matchup does invite a winnable game.

Evan Engram, NYG (DK – $4,500/FD – $5,600)

This week I have a Giants’ passing game stack feel, which may end up cleaning out my bankroll. Engram ranks 14th in tight end scoring (8.68 FPPG), which is well below his expected value in 2020. His only passing touchdown came in Week 9. The Giants gave him top tier targets from Week 7 to Week 9 (9, 10, and 10), leading to three steady outings (6/46, 5/61, and 5/48/1) for the season-long contests. Engram has the talent and upside to gain over 100 yards (no games with over 65 yards receiving in 2020) and score multiple touchdowns, but the Giants have a lousy offensive line (31 sacks allowed) with only eight passing touchdowns. The Bengals rank in 29th defense (50/589/4) with one disaster showing (6/76/3). Not a player to target at DraftKings, but Engram has a low enough salary to surprise in this matchup.

Rob Gronkowski, TB (DK – $4,400/FD – $6,200)

Tom Brady and Rob Gronkowski celebrate after a touchdown

Even with high projections for Week 11, Gronkowski doesn't give fantasy owners a great feeling about his floor or ceiling. He scored a touchdown in four of his previous six starts, but his production in catches and yards has been short (1/2, 2/51, and 2/25) since the arrival of Antonio Brown. Over the last six games, his catch rate (54.3) has been low, leading to 11.48 FPPG. The Chiefs struggled against tight ends last week (LV – 9/103/2) while also showing risk in Week 7 (DEN – 12/123). Kansas City fell to 12th in tight end coverage (45/466/5). Only a wild card at this point of the season while relying on touchdowns produces middling fantasy stats.

Mike Gesicki, MIA (DK – $4,300/FD – $5,600)

Gesicki gained over 40 yards in his last three starts, which doesn’t sound exciting, but it was well above five of his games (3/30, 1/15/1, 1/15, 0/0, and 1/8) over the first seven weeks. Miami only gave him 30 targets over the previous eight contests. Gesicki played well in Week 2 (8/130/1) when he received a season-high 11 targets. The Jets shut him out in their earlier matchup. New York ranks 23rd in tight end defense (43/496/7). They did allow the Dolphins' second and third tight ends to catch four passes for 55 yards and two touchdowns. The bottom line here is Miami has to chase on the scoreboard for Gesicki to get a bump in chances, which most likely won’t happen in Week 11.

Noah Fant, DEN (DK – $4,200/FD – $5,700)

The expected fun ride of Fant ended after his first two games (5/81/1 and 4/57/1). He extended his scoreless streak to seven weeks. Since missing Week 6, Fant has 20 catches for 203 yards on 31 targets, with his best output (7/47) coming in Week 8. In his rookie season, he gained 14.1 yards per catch (10.8 in 2020). New Orleans had failure vs. tight ends in Week 2 (LV – 14/137/1) and Week 3 (GB – 9/104/2) while allowing all six touchdowns to the position over the first five games. The Saints improved to 20th defending tight ends (48/477/6) after better results over the past five games (1/11, 3/15, 1/2, 6/84, and 0/0). Fant is a better player than his output this season, but his lack of scoring and low targets (6.4) makes him tough to trust from week-to-week.

Jonnu Smith, TEN (DK – $4,100/FD – $6,000)

At first glance at Smith’s projections (four catches for 38 yards with a minimal chance at scoring), he looks misplaced at the 22nd rated tight end in scoring at DraftKings. The Colts have the fourth-best defense vs. tight ends (44/384/1), with their only touchdown allowed coming in Week 11 (GB – 9/75/1). Smith only had two catches for 14 yards on six targets in his previous matchup against Indy, but he did sneak in a one-yard touchdown run. Over his last six games, he only has 12 catches for 117 yards and three touchdowns. Smith has a fading opportunity while also drawing some tougher defenses over his downturn. On the positive side, the Titans will run plays for him at the goal line.

Hayden Hurst, ATL (DK – $3,900/FD – $5,500)

Falcons Hayden Hurst

The Saints shut out Hurst on two targets in Week 11, which was due to New Orleans running over them with their pass rush (eight sacks). His production was improved over the previous four weeks (4/57/1, 6/68, 5/54, and 7/62), with his best game (5/72/1) coming in Week 2 against Dallas. Hurst didn’t practice on Thursday with an ankle issue that put him at risk to play on Sunday. The Raiders have been inconsistent with their tight end defense (47/523/4 – 13th), with the Chiefs doing most of the damage in two games (8/108/1 and 9/132/1). Game flow may work well for Hurst, especially if Julio Jones doesn’t suit up, but his injury does invite downside.

Austin Hooper, CLE (DK – $3,800/FD – $5,100)

Since returning from his appendix surgery, Hooper had no value in the fantasy market in two starts (1/11 and 3/33). In both games, Cleveland pounded the ball on the ground. He posted three playable games from Week 4 to Week 6 (5/34/1, 5/57, and 5/52) in the season-long contests. The Jaguars are 26th in the league vs. the tight end position (40/553/8). The Titans (8/129/2) and Chargers (5/71/2) had the most success against Jacksonville at tight end. Possible touchdown with minimal upside in catches and yard unless Cleveland falls behind early.

Jordan Reed, SF (DF – $3,600/FD – $5,000)

Reed picked up five catches for 62 yards on six targets in Week 10 against the Saints while being on the field for 44 percent of the 49ers’ snaps. His best game (7/50/2) came in Week 2 vs. the Jets, but he also saw short snaps (46 percent) as the replacement to George Kittle. Reed has pass-catching upside, but he won’t be on the field if San Francisco wants to run the ball on early downs. The Rams are league average against tight ends (53/506/4) with no touchdowns allowed over the past four games. Their two disaster games came vs. Buffalo (5/25/3) and the 49ers (7/109/1). Upside pass-catcher in a potential chaser game may work at this salary level.

Jared Cook, NO (DK – $3,500/FD – $5,800)

The Saints have had Cook on the field for only 36, 36, and 38 percent of their plays over the last three weeks. Over this span, he only had three catches for 36 yards on six targets. Denver allowed fewer than 10.0 fantasy points to six teams at tight end, helping them reach the 11th ranking (51/498/2). With playing time concern and a road game, Cook is an easy avoid in all formats.

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