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Fantasy Football Week 11: Streaming Tight Ends

C.D. Carter likes Rob Housler and Coby Fleener as tight end streaming options in week 11.

Arizona Cardinals tight end Rob Housler
Arizona Cardinals tight end Rob Housler

Nov 10, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Arizona Cardinals tight end Rob Housler (84) makes a catch during the game against the Houston Texans at University of Phoenix Stadium. Arizona won 27-24. Kevin Jairaj-USA TODAY Sports

My greatest fears about Buccaneers tight end Timothy Wright came to horrifying fruition on Monday Night Football.

Wright, whose pass routes had dipped to alarming levels, continued to be phased out of Tampa’s hideous offensive attack, running just 16 routes, seeing one target, and securing one reception for 19 yards.

These are often the risks of tight end streaming. We’re relying on guys who may or may not be plugged into their offense’s weekly plans. Their role is anyone’s guess unless you have a seat in the locker room, listening to coaches scheme in the days before a game.

I’m not going to give the eulogy for Wright’s fantasy value quite yet, but it’s been clear over the past two weeks that Tiquan Underwood is Mike Glennon’s No. 2 target behind Vincent Jackson. Wright might be No. 3. Even if he is, does the converted receiver warrant our fantasy consideration? I’d say no, unless and until his pass route totals rise.

Streaming is hard

There’s been far more interest in waiver wire tight end options over the past month. Bye weeks have sent fantasy owners scrambling for tight ends with the best chance to exploit a juicy matchup. It’s always during that time that fantasy footballers — not just those who regularly stream the position — realize how difficult streaming can be.

Here’s a number that shows simultaneously just how tough and feasible tight end streaming is: 33. There have been a grand total of 33 top-12 fantasy tight ends from Weeks 6-10, from Jared Cook and Jermaine Gresham to Joel Dreessen and Logan Paulsen.

Many of those 33 sneaked into the top-12 with a short touchdown, converting one target into one reception for one score. That’s the definition of unpredictable. There are, however, names that jump out of that list of 33, including streaming favorites and one-time streamers Charles Clay, Jordan Reed, Scott Chandler, Delanie Walker, Heath Miller, and Zach Miller.

If streaming tight ends were a perfect science, I’d sell if to you for $99.99 a pop. It isn’t though, and it never will be. Making sound decisions is all we can do. And if you have recorders set up in various NFL locker rooms, please let me know.

Week 11 tight end streamers

Rob Housler (ARZ) at Jacksonville Jaguars

Probably I was a week late in sounding the streaming alarm on Housler, a preseason favorite who — for quite a while — was drafted ahead of Jordan Cameron in mock fantasy drafts.

There was valid reason for pegging Housler as a late-round tight end who could’ve become a weekly option. Head coach Bruce Arians talked up Housler as a spry receiver trapped in a tight end’s body. The team used Housler across the formation in preseason practices and early preseason games. There was valid belief that the 6-foot-5, 251-pound tight end would be Carson Palmer’s No. 2 option in 2013.

An severe ankle sprain sidelined Housler for most of the season’s first half, effectively killing his fantasy prospects. He’s back now, and while his usage and route running remains a bit spotty, both are on the rise.

The first positive signs came against Seattle in Week 7. Palmer did a 2012 impression of himself and bombarded his tight end with garbage time targets. Housler caught all seven balls that came his way for 54 yards, making Seahawks linebackers look silly in the process.

Then there was Week 8 against Atlanta, when Housler ran a meager 11 pass routes and blocked 18 times. This was certainly a product of the Cardinals all but shutting down their offense with a hefty lead. Still, it was disconcerting.

It was against Houston that Housler hit pay dirt, rumbling into the end zone from 12 yards out on a tight end screen. It was his first touchdown on 72 receptions as a third-year pro.

“Robby really hadn’t gotten going until today,” Palmer said in a post-game interview. “All season long we’ve been trying to get him involved. He made some great plays and catches.”

A closer look at Housler’s numbers shows his Week 10 performance may not have been a fluke. He totaled 23 pass routes and was asked to block 23 times, meaning he was part of 72 percent of Arizona’s passing plays against the Texans. We, as streamers, can work with this.

Housler’s Week 11 opponents, the Jaguars, have two of the worst cover linebackers in the NFL, along with Geno Hayes, who is rated by Pro Football Focus as as the league’s seventh best cover linebacker. Jacksonville is allowing 11.8 schedule-adjusted fantasy points to tight ends, second worst in the league.

Jacksonville’s defense has given up at least six grabs to tight ends six times in 2013. Tight ends have reached the end zone eight times against the Jags, including two from little-used Delanie Walker last week.

Coby Fleener (IND) at Tennessee Titans

The Titans, who sport one of the league’s premiere pass defenses, have been surprisingly generous to opposing tight ends. Even the ghost of Marcades Lewis got in on the act last week, hauling in four receptions for 54 yards against Tennessee’s linebackers.

When adjusted for strength of schedule, the Titans are the sixth worst team against tight ends, allowing 9.7 weekly points.

We’ve broken down Fleener’s post-Dwayne Allen prospects ad nauseum this season, so I won’t bore you with a rehash. Instead I’ll point out that Fleener’s pass routes have stayed at an encouraging level over the past month. He ran a whopping 49 routes in last week’s St. Louis massacre. Fleener was targeted 10 times.

Fleener is still available on two-thirds of waiver wires. I see him as a borderline top-12 Week 11 play.

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