Happy New Year to all of you savages that have a championship matchup in Week 17! As I have mentioned before, thank you again to everyone who has read my work over the course of the year, and have reached out on Twitter for advice. It makes the 3-4 hours of research that I put in each week worth it. I vow that no matter how many people continue to reach out and mention, I will do my absolute best to handle your individual questions. This year was a little tougher than most, as my son’s hockey team that I coach had an ice time that went from 12-1 on Sundays. Not ideal for answering last minute start/sit questions by any stretch! Also, I am a dynasty league enthusiast. Feel free to keep in touch in the off season as you consider dynasty trades, or guys that may be a good add off of the wire. So, whether I hear from you this March, or do not hear from you until next September, I appreciate the support.
Be sure to reach out with your Start/Sit, dynasty, or other fantasy questions to me directly on Twitter at @BGunnWMU or @FGBros
Irv Smith Jr., TE, Minnesota: You may have sensed a theme to this point in the article, as there is a lot of purple in the start sections. Well…as I have lamented earlier in this week’s writing as well as a couple of times throughout the season, I am a Lions fan and have seen the success that every position possible on the field seems to have against them. Now, will all the Vikings produce for fantasy managers this weekend? Maybe not. But I see him ranked outside of starter territory and I just do not agree that there are 12 other tight ends that will outscore him. This matchup comes at a time where his role in the passing game is growing by leaps and bounds as well. In Week 16 Smith racked up 9 targets, 2 of them being the most valuable type as they came within the redzone. Smith will finish as a top 10 TE with top 5 upside this week.
Jonnu Smith, TE, Tennessee: Over the last two outings for Tennessee, Jonnu has been re-introduced to the passing game. The resurgence could not come at a better time as Smith faces off against a Houston defense that really struggles (that is me being nice and just not outright calling them terrible). This will be a game where Tennessee will be able to produce in any fashion they would like, and unlike most teams, I doubt that the Titans are interested in running out the clock. Henry has been given a ton of touches recently, so if coach Mike Vrabel wants to lessen the wear and tear on him, he may just do so by working out whatever kinks he thinks there may be in the passing game. Smith will also finish in the top 10 this week although his ranking puts him outside of the top 15.
Rob Gronkowski, TE, Tampa Bay: Atlanta is the best in the league against the run, but the opposite when it comes to the pass. Why would that land Gronk in the sit section then? Here is the way I look at it. When a team is this bad at stopping the pass, and Chris Godwin, and Mike Evans are pass-catching options (we can debate whether Antonio Brown deserves to be mentioned amongst his position group peers), you get the ball to them. Then you get the ball to them again, and so on and so forth until you get a lead that allows you to rest those guys up. This could all blow up in my face if Gronk happens to turn his two targets into touchdowns as he did last week, but I just cannot start a guy knowing that if he doesn’t get into the endzone, he literally has zero value. Note that he is also being ranked in the top 5, and that makes me doubly skeptical.
Jared Cook, TE, New Orleans: Carolina has been a good team against the pass, and the opposite against the run (just imagine combining the defense of Atlanta and Carolina. You would have a single well-rounded defense). Cook does not run the ball; he is a pass catcher. It is not hard to follow this equation. In addition to the matchup, consider Cook’s targetshare in this offense. I do not mean average target share over the season, I mean how sparratic the number of targets is in each game. He could see 7, then see 2 in back-to-back games. You are in your championship this week, do not get cute because Cook is being ranked inside the top 10. There are better options out there.