Fantasy News & Analysis

Fantasy Football: Sleeper tight end options to start in Week 14

2TA4H24 Baltimore Ravens tight end Isaiah Likely (80) runs with the ball during an NFL football game against the Los Angeles Chargers, Sunday, Nov. 26, 2023, in Inglewood, Calif. (AP Photo/Kyusung Gong)

  Isaiah Likely to play a big role: Now that Mark Andrews is on injured reserve, can the second-year Baltimore Ravens’ tight end adequately fill in against the Los Angeles Rams?

  It’s Taysom Hill time again: With Derek Carr questionable for Week 14, Taysom Hill’s role could increase once again.

  Dominate your fantasy leagues in 2023: For up-to-date draft rankings and projections, check out PFF’s fantasy rankings tool.

Estimated reading time: 6 minutes

Dear, oh, dear. Week 13 was not it for our sleeper tight end picks, as it was an unmitigated disaster. One we’ll have to move on from. Nonetheless, Chigoziem Okonkwo, Cade Otton, Juwan Johnson and Pat Freiermuth averaged 3.8 fantasy points apiece in Week 13, courtesy of goose eggs from Johnson and Otton. It’s an aberration, but one that may have left some fantasy owners on the wrong side of the playoff picture heading into the final week of the fantasy football regular season.

Now we’re here. Riding into battle once more and looking to right the wrongs from a week ago. Eyes closed, head down, can’t lose. Let’s break down those sleeper tight end options.

WR:CB Matchup Chart

Tanner Hudson, Cincinnati Bengals

Opponent: Indianapolis Colts

Is this the most sensible option to start with? Absolutely not. However, these sorts of moments are just made for pragmatism — now is the time to start throwing things at the wall and seeing what sticks. That’s an over-exaggeration, but there’s some logic placed in picking Tanner Hudson for the first time this season.

With Joe Burrow under center, it would have been a real possibility. Burrow hasn’t traditionally targeted his tight ends at a high rate, so even any sort of increase in targets wouldn’t feel real or sustainable. Things look a little different with Jake Browning. There’s hope that Hudson can be, at least in the short term, a contributor on offense. Since Week 9, Hudson is averaging just over five targets and four catches a game, as well as eight fantasy points per game. Not staggering numbers, but they’re solid at a position that can dip in and out of consistency in fantasy football.

Hudson has a good opportunity to build on his recent success in Week 14. The Bengals take on the Indianapolis Colts — a defense that’s allowing the seventh-most fantasy points per game to tight ends this season. Hudson is also scoring a solid 0.41 fantasy points per route and is playing well, highlighted by his 75.5 overall grade, sixth-best among all tight ends in 2023. Tack on the fact he has a sizable 15% matchup advantage against the Colts this week and you could feel pretty content knowing that Hudson could get you 8-10 fantasy points this week.

Jake Ferguson, Dallas Cowboys 

Opponent: Philadelphia Eagles 

Another week, another reason to start Jake Ferguson. The second-year tight end has become an integral part of the Cowboys offense in 2023, catching 46 passes for 498 yards and two touchdowns. He’s ninth in total receiving yards among tight ends but truly feels like one of the breakout talents in the league this season. But he still, just about, meets the sleeper requirements even though he has seven top-12 scoring weeks this season.

Ferguson’s ceiling is boosted by the MVP-esque performance of Dak Prescott in 2023, but he’s carved out a trusted role for himself in one of the best offenses in the NFL. The Cowboys are scoring more points than anyone else in the NFL right now (32.2) and have the fourth-best offensive grade in the NFL. With the second-most catches, targets, and receiving yards on the team, Ferguson is a big reason as to why the Cowboys tick.

And he’s got an excellent matchup in Week 14 against the Philadelphia Eagles. Despite having the best record in the NFL, the Eagles' defense has been a cause of concern over the last five games. During that time, they’ve allowed 29.4 points per game and over 435 yards of total offense, with over 300 passing yards in four of those five games. A lot of that struggle stems from the Eagles' weakness at linebacker, and Ferguson’s 39% matchup advantage this week – the second-highest among tight ends – recognizes that.

Taysom Hill, New Orleans Saints

Opponent: Carolina Panthers

Taysom Hill is back to doing Taysom Hill things after two quiet weeks that saw him score 5.7 fantasy points per game. In the four games prior? He averaged 18 fantasy points per game — as funky as his role in the Saints offense is, it’s hard to ignore. There’s also a good chance that that role won’t diminish between now and the end of the season. Hill might be one of the best things happening in the Saints offense right now — which is an indictment of where they are as a team — but for fantasy purposes, take it and run. 

The case for starting Hill, the current TE10 on the season, is that the Saints could be without Derek Carr against the Carolina Panthers on Sunday. Carr suffered a concussion against the Detroit Lions in Week 13 — his second in a month — and is also dealing with a rib injury. He’s currently in concussion protocol and there’s a good chance he misses the game against the Panthers. If that’s the case, Jameis Winston is the likely starter, but Hill’s footprint in the offense will grow and he may even have a few more opportunities to drop back as a passer.

And when it inevitably does, it’ll be the Panthers who suffer the consequences. They’re a unit that’s holding tight ends to the eighth-fewest fantasy points this season, but Hill doesn’t just get receptions, he’ll continue to get the heavy red zone touches. More than any other tight end or receiver in the NFL this season. An easy start.

Isaiah Likely, Baltimore Ravens

Opponent: Los Angeles Rams

With Mark Andrews on IR for the rest of the season, Isaiah Likely is the Ravens’ starting tight end. The Ravens were on a bye in Week 13, so we haven’t seen much of Likely stepping in as the starter — just the one game against the Chargers in Week 13, but the signs were promising as he caught four of his six targets for 40 yards.

Likely is a big, athletic tight end who can get out into the open field and cause problems for defenses after the catch. This season, he’s averaging 6.5 yards after the catch per reception, the sixth-most among all tight ends with 15 targets or more this season. It’s a small sample size, but the traits are there to see for Likely. He’ll play a big role in the offense moving forward.

That growth starts with a tough game against the Los Angeles Rams on Sunday. The Rams are finding their groove and are now 6-6 with an excellent chance of making the playoffs. However, they’re allowing the eighth-most fantasy points per game to tight ends, and the Ravens offense is scoring 27 points per game. Likely has a slight 6% matchup advantage this week, and with Lamar Jackson at quarterback, he’s worth a start.


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