Fantasy stats based around 4 points per passing TD and 0.5 points per reception.
There are two main approaches when look at fantasy player scoring trends. The first is to see how that player is performing from an output perspective. The second is to look at how their upcoming opponent has performed.
This article leans heavily on Fantasy Points Against (FPA). This number measures the total fantasy points given up per game to a position group by a defense. Other stats referenced may come from sources including Pro Football Reference, Pro Football Focus, and Football Outsiders.
The 0-5 New York Giants host the 1-4 Washington Football Team in a game that features two of the three worst scoring offenses. Divisional matchups have a reputation of being competitive, but this game lacks any general watchability.
Evan Engram is second on the team in targets this season (32) only behind Darius Slayton (40). Washington has been a stingy defense against opposing wide receivers. Slayton has two big games this season both coming against bottom 10 defenses in points allowed to wide receivers and has been shut down against top 10 defenses. Washington cornerback Kendall Fuller has the second-best passer rating against in coverage (16.2). It is reasonable to expect Fuller to lock up Slayton.
Washington has the slimmest margin between fantasy points allowed to receivers and fantasy points allowed to tight ends indicating that tight ends have higher expected fantasy points share against their defense. Through five weeks, Washington has allowed three Top 12 tight end finishes all against teams without a truly elite wide receiver option. Engram should have ample opportunity to return to at least 7 targets and high touchdown upside.
TJ Hockenson faces the Jacksonville Jaguars who have lost four straight after the opening week upset of Indianapolis. The Jaguars still have threads of their phenomenal 2017 defense but are bottom 10 in both passing and rushing yards allowed per game.
Even with Kenny Golladay returning to the Lions offense, Hockenson still leads the team in yards per target (9.0) which is top 10 among tight ends. Hockenson is averaging five targets per game which puts him behind Golladay and just about on pace with Marvin Jones on the team.
Among the 28 tight ends who have played at least 100 snaps in the slot, Hockenson ranks 10th in yards per route run and 2nd in target percentage. Jacksonville has been particularly weak in slot coverage. DJ Hayden, who recently hit Injured Reserve, played the most slot coverage for Jacksonville and was third worst among cornerbacks in passer rating allowed in slot. His replacement Tre Herndon has filled that spot allowing a passer rating of 147.9 in slot coverage in the last two weeks.
Factor in that Jacksonville has allowed four touchdowns to tight ends this season and only five to receivers and Hockenson seems poised to have a startable game.
Irv Smith Jr
There hasn’t been a lot of production out of Minnesota Vikings tight ends this season (13 catches, 154 yards, one touchdown) but they have a chance to capitalize in a very favorable spot.
Smith saw a season-high five targets and went 4-64 against the Seahawks in a Week 5 Sunday Night Football battle. Fortunately, Week 6 brings an Atlanta defense that has given up seven touchdowns to tight ends putting them as the second worst defense in FPA to tight ends. No tight end that Atlanta has faced is top 12 in ownership percentage on Yahoo or ESPN.
Higbee is in a similar situation as Jimmy Graham where fantasy teams likely don’t have to start him. Higbee’s standout performance Week 2 has earned him a long leash with fantasy managers but he hasn’t shown much since then. Since his three-touchdown performance against Philadelphia, Higbee has seen no more than four targets in a game and hasn’t eclipsed 40 yards receiving.
San Francisco, meanwhile, has not allowed a touchdown to a tight end this season and has only given up one top 12 finish. The 49ers are also the 10th best team in FPA to tight ends.
If that wasn’t enough to merit a bench spot for Higbee, he seems to be losing his grip on what was hopefully the third option for Jared Goff. Five players saw more targets than Higbee in Week 5. Higbee isn’t as a clear drop yet, but with a difficult road ahead, teams facing injuries can drop him.
One of the best fantasy comeback stories this year has been Jimmy Graham who disappointed with 1,083 yards and five touchdowns combined in two seasons with Green Bay. The Chicago Bears already had a slew of tight ends on the roster before adding Graham who has been a valuable addition. The TE3 in total points this year has four touchdowns in five games with a mix of Nick Foles and Mitch Trubisky at quarterback.
Graham gets a bad draw against the sixth best defense in FPA to tight ends. The Carolina Panthers have not allowed a top 12 tight end this season and have only given up one touchdown. No tight end has mustered more than 7.5 points against them yet.