Several highly drafted wide receivers and tight ends put forth some disappointing fantasy performances in Week 13. Hopefully you were able to survive these, but the stakes are much higher now with Week 14 ushering in the fantasy playoffs for most leagues.
So which WRs and TEs should you trust with your title aspirations and which you should not let ruin your championship dreams? Before I give you my two cents, let’s take a look at my Week 13 advice.
Sit Allen Robinson (3.1 fantasy points) – You probably drafted Robinson to be your WR1, and he’s more like a WR5 at the moment.
Sit Randall Cobb (7.9 FP) – Yes Cobb scored a touchdown, which he desperately needed, otherwise he would have only sored 1.9 fantasy points.
Start Zach Ertz (13.9 FP) – With Jordan Matthews out, someone had to step up, and that was Ertz.
Sit Dennis Pitta (19 FP) – Flacco had been average at best all year and Pitta hadn’t scored a TD since 2013… until last week when he scored TWO.
Start Doug Baldwin (6.5 FP) – It was a get-right spot for both Russel Wilson and Baldwin last week, but it was really all Thomas Rawls in the Seahawks’ big win over the Panthers.
START THESE WRs...
Doug Baldwin, SEA (at GB)
Baldwin hasn’t made a lot of big plays over the last couple games, but the volume is still there. He’s now caught at least six passes in five of the last seven weeks, and leads the Seahawks in receptions (68) and receiving yards (832). With that in mind, it’s hard to envision Russell Wilson‘s No. 1 target not having a big game in Week 14 against a Packers’ secondary that’s struggled to cover No. 1 receiving options after Sam Shields was lost for the season. There’s legit WR1 upside this week for Baldwin, especially with his ability to find the end zone.
Golden Tate, DET (vs. CHI)
This stings for the people that dropped Tate after an awful start to the season. It really stings. Tate has parlayed Marvin Jones’ injury and offensive coordinator Jim Bob Cooter’s faith into some massive games over the last six weeks. He’s currently averaging nine targets per game and gets the lowly, lowly Bears at home. This is a dream playoff matchup.
Malcolm Mitchell, NE (vs. BAL, Mon.)
Injuries can often be the catalyst to some unknown player emerging from nowhere or can cause a known commodity to become an afterthought. The former is the case for Mitchell, as Danny Amendola could miss the rest of the season, Rob Gronkowski is already done. Their loss has been Mitchell’s gain, as he has stepped up and become a reliable target for Tom Brady. The rookie’s targets have increased from two in Week 10 to 10 last week, and he also possesses big-play ability as a deep threat. All that really matters this this: Brady likes him, so you should too.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Sammy Watkins, BUF (vs. PIT)
Watkins had just three catches for 38 yards in his second game back from injury, but there also were some positive takeaways, as he played 68.1 percent of the snaps (up from 45.5 in Week 12), ran 36 pass routes on Tyrod Taylor's 41 dropbacks and received nine targets (up from three in Week 12). Watkins is a threat for double-digit targets (especially if Robert Woods is out again), and is a big play waiting to happen against a Steelers defense that has allowed either 100 yards or a touchdown to a WR in four of their last five games. The upside is just too tempting.
SIT THESE WRs...
Allen Robinson, JAC (vs. MIN)
The man is far too garbage-time-dependent, and while his volume has remained consistently around 10-plus targets per game, you just never know if you’re going to get six fantasy points or 16. Now he faces a Minnesota defense that has actually been among the stingiest against WRs over the last month. To make matters worse, Robinson will likely draw Xavier Rhodes, who has the ability to shut him down completely, in coverage.
Rishard Matthews, TEN (vs. DEN)
Matthews has been as hot as any wide receiver in fantasy football over the last month, but I'd be wary of this matchup against the Broncos. Their defense has allowed the fewest touchdowns (6) and the fewest fantasy points (13.8 ppg) to the position, so Matthews could be in for a difficult weekend in this important AFC showdown.
Randall Cobb, GB (vs. SEA)
Cobb found the end zone last week, but he still finished with just 7.9 fantasy points against the Texans. He has another tough matchup ahead, as the Seahawks have surrendered just nine touchdowns and the seventh-fewest fantasy points (21.2 ppg) to WRs. In the first week of the fantasy postseason, Cobb should be benched.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Kelvin Benjamin, CAR (vs. SD)
Benjamin has scored one touchdown in his last eight games, averaging just 4.25 receptions and 64.5 yards per contest during that stretch. He's still a big-play threat, and he's still getting about eight targets per game, so there is certainly some upside left, but don't expect this to be the week that he reaches that. Benjamin figures to see a lot of shutdown corner Casey Hayward, who held Mike Evans to three catches for 38 yards last week, leads the NFL in pass breakups and ranks as Pro Football Focus' No. 4 CB on the year.
START THESE TEs...
Ladarius Green, PIT (at BUF)
After missing the first nine weeks of the season with an ankle injury, then providing very little in his first three weeks back, Green exploded on Sunday to the tune of 11 targets, six receptions, 110 yards and a touchdown. I don't like chasing production, but I believe the breakout can be trusted. He has always had potential as an athletic specimen in an explosive offense, and now he looks like the No. 3 option behind Antonio Brown and Le'Veon Bell that the Steelers have desperately been seeking. Not only should he continue to be peppered with targets, but they should be high-quality, downfield targets, and when you consider the lack of depth at the tight end position, Green's upside makes him a low-end TE1.
Cameron Brate, TB (vs. NO)
I’m a true believer now. Brate had down weeks against Kansas City and Seattle, two of the better defenses against the TE, now he plays the Saints in what could be a high-scoring game. Last week he dominated with a 31 percent target share, getting nine compared to Mike Evans’ six. You can depend on Brate.
Zach Ertz, PHI (vs. WAS)
It’s almost like Ertz has had two different seasons in 2016. The first five games were ugggglllyyyyy. He managed just 140 yards and 15 catches on 20 targets. The last five games? More Ertz circa 2015 as Carson Wentz finally started to utilize his athletic tight end, and a sparkling 32-302-2 line on 47 targets. Those good times should continue to roll this week against a Redskins’ defense that’s allowed 60 receptions to the position this season.
MIGHT BE WORTH THE RISK...
Antonio Gates, SD (at CAR)
Gates has been pretty bad as of late. In fact, he's scored just 3.7 fantasy points in his last two games combined. If you don't have an elite tight end, however, I'd start Gates against a Carolina team that has allowed nine scores and the most points to the position (11.4 ppg) in 2016.
SIT THESE TEs...
Martellus Bennett, NE (vs. BAL, Mon.)
It’s easy to put together a formula in your head that Bennett should just step into Rob Gronkowski‘s spot in the Patriots’ offense and put up Gronk-like fantasy numbers, but that’s just not the case. Tom Brady has found different ways to keep this offense productive, relying more on Julian Edelman, working in Malcolm Mitchell, and taking advantage of Dion Lewis’ and James White’s pass-catching abilities out of the backfield. The result has been an increase in three-wide receiver sets and Bennett being asked to block more. Throw in the fact he’s battling a variety of ailments at the moment and that the Ravens allow the fifth-fewest fantasy points to the position and you have nothing more than a dart throw. I’d avoid if possible.
Dennis Pitta, BAL (at NE, Mon.)
I had listed Pitta as a sit 'em last week when he went off for two touchdowns against the Dolphins. Does this mean I'm starting Pitta against the Patriots? Heck no. He has still scored fewer than six fantasy points in all but two games overall, and the Patriots have been tough on tight ends in 2016.
Kyle Rudolph, MIN (at JAC)
Rudolph has been solid for owners in PPR leagues, but take a look at his totals in standard leagues. Over his last three games, the veteran has scored a combined 12.1 fantasy points. I would beware Rudolph in those formats against the Jaguars, who have surrendered 5.8 points and just three touchdowns to tight ends.
YOU’VE BEEN WARNED...
Delanie Walker, TEN (vs. DEN)
He’s a stud and you should always play your studs, but the Denver defense has been especially stingy against TEs over the last two weeks, holding them to far and away a league-best 1.6 fantasy points per game in standard leagues. Mariota gonna Mariota, but keep this in mind when the TE position is relatively deep. This could be ugly.
— Written by Michael Horvath, who is part of the Athlon Contributor Network. Horvath is a Canadian who also happens to be a fantasy football (not to be confused with CFL) and fitness nut. Follow him on Twitter @realmikehorvath.