You made it. After 13 long, arduous weeks of matchup research, player analysis, waiver claims and head-to-head battles, you have successfully reached the next step towards bringing home that coveted fantasy football title. Welcome to the fantasy playoffs.
Any edge you can possibly use to defeat your opponents for the next three weeks should be sought out. With few impact injuries occurring over the past few weeks, it seems unlikely you will find additional help at either running back or wide receiver. You might find depth, but no one you would be willing to start. This is why the tight end position becomes even more important.
Overall, the tight end position has been a garbage heap. You have your top-tier players like Travis Kelce, Darren Waller and Hunter Henry, but outside of a random name or two, no one has provided consistent help worth using each week. As a result, the waiver wire has been a revolving door for the position. Though that can be annoying during the regular season, it actually works into your favor for the playoffs, because there are now available players who are still worth streaming.
Identifying which teams struggle the most against the tight end position should be your first step. Many websites provide a grid for teams’ fantasy points allowed by position, and you can also look up DVOA (Defense Adjusted Value Over Average) rankings for how a team ranks against a position in coverage. Both will point you toward Arizona, Washington and Cincinnati. Chicago, Detroit and Tampa Bay are also pretty soft against the position. From there, it’s a simple matchup of the NFL weekly schedule.
Most people will start with Pittsburgh’s Vance McDonald — who faces Arizona, the worst team against the tight end. He is a clear no-brainer. Unfortunately, he’s a one-and-done. A Week 15 matchup with Buffalo caps his playoff value. He’s still a great option for streaming, but you will have to go back to the waiver wire for the following weeks.
David Njoku of the Browns is a strong option as well, and even better, you can use him for the rest of your playoffs. Expected to play in Week 14 where he faces the Bengals, Njoku then faces Arizona in Week 15 and Baltimore in Week 16. Both teams have also struggled against the position. Acquiring him while everyone else tries to do the Vance Dance this week could prove to be the bigger power move.
The fight is nearly over. Just three more weeks of battle. Take every advantage you can get and dismiss nothing. A better tight end could be the difference you need.
Howard Bender is the VP of operations and head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on Twitter @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays at 4 p.m. Go to FantasyAlarm.com for all your fantasy sports advice and NFL player rankings.