Fantasy News & Analysis

Fantasy Football: Sleeper tight end options to start in Week 17

2RM6EX1 Houston Texans tight end Dalton Schultz (83) runs the ball during an NFL preseason football game against the Miami Dolphins, Saturday, Aug. 19, 2023, in Houston. (AP Photo/Tyler Kaufman)

• Will Josh Oliver step up?: Can Josh Oliver fill the void for the Minnesota Vikings with T.J. Hockenson sidelined for the rest of the season?

• Back to the Ferguson well: Jake Ferguson gets the nod in the biggest spot of the season.

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

Estimated reading time: 5 minutes

 The moment of truth has arrived. It’s Week 17 in the NFL, which means that it’s championship weekend in most fantasy football leagues. Congratulations to those that made it, and commiserations to those that didn’t. You’ll get your chance at redemption next year, but it’ll have to wait for now. We’re here talking tight ends one last time in 2023.

Our Week 16 picks had mixed results. David Njoku, Cole Kmet, and Tucker Kraft averaged 13.7 fantasy points between them, but Tanner Hudson let the side down with a one-catch performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers. The pressure is on to get the picks right this week. There’ll be some fantasy managers wading into the sleeper waters for the first time with the devastating news that T.J. Hockenson is out for the rest of the season with a major injury, and there’ll be those who have relied on streaming for most of the season. 

Whatever the consumer's needs, we’ll do our best to help in these trying times.

WR:CB Matchup Chart 

Dalton Schultz, Houston Texans

Opponent: Tennessee Titans 

It was fair to assume that Dalton Schultz might have fallen off the fantasy football radar sans C.J. Stroud. The Texans’ rookie quarterback has missed the last two games due to a concussion. Still, the Texans have stayed afloat during that time despite losing to the Browns in Week 16 and Schultz has been a consistent contributor since returning from an injury of his own. 

Schultz is the TE10 on the season, averaging 10.5 PPR points per game and has been an integral part of the Texans offense this season. In the two games Stroud was absent, Schultz caught 12 of his 16 targets for 119 yards and averaged 11.9 fantasy points per game. With Stroud likely back against the Titans, Schultz has a good chance to continue his strong fantasy season. 

His matchup works to his benefit too. Per our matchup calculator, Schultz has a strong 16% matchup advantage over the Titans' defense, a team he scored 9.8 points against in Week 15 with Case Keenum at quarterback. The Titans' defense has generally defended tight ends well this season, allowing the fewest fantasy points per game to the tight end position, but the Texans offense could be back to its best with Stroud back in the lineup. Either way, Schultz is going to command a decent diet of targets. He’s always worth a start.

Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Chargers

Opponent: Denver Broncos

Anyone expecting a big fantasy season from Gerald Everett will be bitterly disappointed with how his 2023 season has shaken out. Like the Los Angeles Chargers offense, Everett has flashed in moments but struggled with overall consistency. He’s the TE21 on the season, a far cry from the top-10 performance that some fantasy managers anticipated.

However, Everett has quietly put together a string of acceptable fantasy performances over his last five games, averaging 10.1 fantasy points per game and catching 25 passes for 209 yards. And with Easton Stick at quarterback in the last three games, Everett is averaging eight targets per game. Everett has been the safety blanket for Stick with Keenan Allen sidelined. It hasn’t led to big yardage, but Everett is still seeing enough volume to settle on.

Everett has a solid matchup advantage this week too as the Chargers take on the Denver Broncos defense – a unit that’s allowing the most fantasy points per game to tight ends this season. His 18% matchup advantage is the 10th-highest at the position. There’s a good chance Everett cruises to double-digit points again this week.

Josh Oliver, Minnesota Vikings

Opponent: Green Bay Packers

The news that T.J. Hockenson is out for the season, and potentially into the 2024 NFL season, is a tough pill to swallow. Hockenson has been so important to the success of the Vikings offense for the past two years, but he’s also been the TE1 in fantasy football this season. Losing him sucks, simple.

It’s only natural to look down the depth chart and predict that Josh Oliver will get the same opportunities that Hockenson got and, let’s be clear: he likely won’t. Hockenson saw 127 targets through 15 games and had already set career-highs in catches (95) and receiving yards (960). Oliver won’t see close to nine targets a game, but he’ll still be involved enough to consider starting. Especially if the Vikings are without Jordan Addison, who is currently questionable with an ankle injury, heading into the game against the Packers.

The Packers defense is 25th in EPA per play this season, and the unit has struggled again under Joe Barry. They’re pretty much right in the middle of the league in terms of fantasy points allowed to tight ends, but Oliver’s increased role in the offense could lead to a solid performance.

Jake Ferguson, Dallas Cowboys

Opponent: Detroit Lions

Who else but Jake Ferguson? He’s the sleeper tight end of the 2023 season and has regularly featured and produced as one of our weekly picks. He’s the current TE9 in fantasy, averaging 10.46 PPR points per game, catching 61 passes for 659 yards and five touchdowns in his second season in the NFL. Ferguson has not only adequately replaced Dalton Schultz, but he’s stepped up and been better than Schultz ever was in the Cowboys offense. He’s an excellent seam-runner, a real threat with the ball in his hands, and he’s great in contested catch scenarios.

Over the last month, Ferguson has shone, averaging 12.7 fantasy points per game. His consistent stretches have often been met with dud performances this season, but for the most part, he’s been someone you can rely on on a week-to-week basis. That makes sense, given how important he’s been to the Cowboys' offense. 

Ferguson has an excellent matchup this week as the Cowboys take on the Detroit Lions – a unit that allows the 10th-most fantasy points per game to tight ends this season. It’s also a defense that’s struggled to stop anyone recently. Ferguson has a 20% matchup advantage and if you’ve had success with him, you should 100% go back to the well in the biggest matchup of the fantasy season.


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