Fantasy Football: Week 4 Streaming Tight End Options

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Week 3 was a great week for streaming tight ends, if you’re a fantasy hipster.

Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller

December 23, 2012; Pittsburgh, PA, USA; Pittsburgh Steelers tight end Heath Miller (83) runs after a pass reception as Cincinnati Bengals strong safety Chris Crocker (left) defends during the third quarter at Heinz Field. The Cincinnati Bengals won 13-10. Charles LeClaire-USA TODAY Sports

If you eschewed the handful of (seemingly) excellent tight end streamers for the likes of Levine Toilolo, David Johnson, Luke Wilson, and Zach Miller — all top-12 options last week — then a hearty congratulations is due.

Last week was rough all around for tight ends, a departure from the piles of points posted by the position in the season’s first two weeks. Only five tight ends ended Week 3 with double-digit points.

Tight ends caught eight — yes, eight — touchdowns in Week 3. It was the definition of slim pickings.

Week 1, in stark contrast, saw tight ends reel in 20 touchdown receptions. Tight ends caught 14 touchdowns in Week 2.

Let’s go back to the well and explore two tight ends streamers that the numbers like a whole lot in Week 4. Here are my Week 4 tight end rankings.

Heath Miller (PIT) vs. Minnesota Vikings

Ben Roethlisberger‘s 2012 security blanket returned last week for his first action of 2013 and was promptly targeted four times, caught three balls, and finished with 35 yards against a Chicago Bears defense decidedly unfriendly against opposing tight ends.

Miller ran 24 pass routes in Week 3 — not a terribly low number, but a good amount considering it was his first action since a horrific and potentially career-ending knee injury. I’d expect his pass routes to slowly rise over the next couple weeks.

rotoViz’s projection tool — which uses similar players against similar defenses to project a weekly fantasy score — likes Miller’s chances against a Minnesota defense that has allowed 18 receptions and six touchdowns to tight ends through three weeks.

Heath Miller 3-10 targets vs. MIN 5-10 targets vs. MIN
Fantasy floor 6 6.7
Fantasy ceiling 10.6 12.2

A quick reminder of Miller’s 2012 usage: He was targeted five or more times in 12 games, scored eight touchdowns, and averaged 10 or more yards per catch in 11 games. Translated, that means Miller was something of a target hog, a reliable red zone threat, and a guy who picked up chunks of yardage when Roethlisberger looked his way.

You couldn’t ask for a tastier streaming matchup. The Vikings’ secondary is an unmitigated disaster, and even better for Miller: Minnesota’s linebackers have struggled in coverage. I have Miller pegged as a top-15 tight end this week.

Coby Fleener (IND) at Jacksonville Jaguars

Fleener, one of our Week 3 streamers, was among the army of tight ends who laid a proverbial egg. He caught two passes on two targets for 13 yards against a 49ers defense that has snuffed out tight end production for the better part of two years.

Fleener’s prospects brighten this week against a Jaguars’ defense that doesn’t do much of anything very well. That includes, mercifully, covering tight ends.

Jacksonville’s linebackers are mediocre in pass coverage, according to Pro Football Focus’s coverage grades. The team’s safeties are among the worst in pass coverage — great news for Fleener.

Tight ends have 15 receptions against the Jaguars this season, though most of that came in Seattle’s mutilation of the Jags in Week 3.

One stat jumped off the page as quite disturbing for those who banked on Fleener’s opportunity to spike after the season-ending injury to Dwayne Allen, who had cut into Fleener’s route running. Fleener, against San Francisco, ran all of 19 pass routes in the Colts’ run-heavy attack.

This should be something of a red flag for Fleener owners. The Colts seem intent on a smashmouth approach from here on out, with Ahmad Bradshaw and Trent Richardson wearing down defenses. Probably this is doubly true against a Jacksonville front seven that has been shredded on the ground.

Opponents have run the ball 503 times against the Jaguars, more than any team in the league by a healthy margin. There’s a reason, of course: Jacksonville allows an average of 167 yards on the ground.

I think this could put a firm cap on the fantasy ceilings of every Colts’ skill position player. Fleener is no exception.

C.D. Carter is a reporter, author of zombie stories, writer for The Fake Football and XN Sports. Fantasy Sports Writers Association member. His work  has been featured in the New York Times.
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