I know, right? Benjamin Watson, or Ben, if you prefer. The same Ben Watson who’s logged six games with 25 or fewer receiving yards this year, and the same Ben Watson who’s slowly starting to lose snaps to Jordan Cameron. No, my holiday rum and egg nog diet is perfectly normal, but thanks for your concern.
It’s championship weekend, and since many of you are steep underdogs while facing tough matchups, aggressive measures are needed. That means more than just clutching your lucky carrot all day, or not showering for a week (FACT: divorce rates spike during fantasy championship week). It means going especially deep in your value mining, and making risky sit/start decisions, a mindset which especially effects the tight end position. Enter Watson.
This has been a horrendous year for many of the tight ends who entered the season among the top tiers. Yes, Rob Gronkowski still played like his usual Gronk-y self, mostly because he’s sexy and he knows it. But he’s been out for a month, and he won’t return tomorrow for championship Sunday. Then if we combine that pain with the dramatic declines of Antonio Gates, Vernon Davis, and Jermichael Finley, well, we have a full blown position melt down on our hands. Basically, unless you’re lucky enough to own Tony Gonzalez, Owen Daniels, Heath Miller, Jimmy Graham, or Jason Witten, streaming tight ends every week is a wise strategy. That means potentially half of your league owned and started a tight end this year who was far less than trustworthy.
This week, Watson would like to stream all over your championship (sorry).
Sure, Watson’s targets have been a little sporadic, getting as high as nine and as low as three since the Browns’ Week 10 bye. But we carry very little about the volume of his targets, and much more about what he can potentially do with his few opportunities. He was averaging only 20.2 yards per game prior to Week 10, a pace that’s gone up to 41.6 in the five games since. That stretch has included a season high 80-yard game in Week 13, and he scored two of his three touchdowns on the season in Week 11 against the Cowboys.
But the most compelling reason to stream Watson during the most important week of the year that could pay for a lot of fantasy mags and website subscriptions and therapy (the death cycle spins) is his opponent. The Browns travel to Denver to face a team that excels at pretty much every aspect of football, except defending tight ends.
The Broncos have the third worst defense against TEs, according to Football Outsiders, allowing 61.9 receiving yards per game to the position. It’s a glaring weakness that was exposed last week by the Ravens, who targeted Dennis Pitta 10 times, a season high. That resulted in two other season highs: receiving yards with 125, and Pitta also had easily his longest catch of the season, a 61 yarder (his previous long was 26 yards). He scored twice too, and what makes Pitta’s performance even more remarkable is that he’s still averaging only a mediocre 43 .8 receiving yards per game on the season.
Much like Watson, Pitta has been mostly a replacement-level fantasy tight end this year, recording four games with 25 or fewer yards. So if you’re reaching and desperate to plug a season-long hole at tight end, reach for Watson first. He’s owned in only three percent of ESPN leagues, and four percent of Yahoo leagues.