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USATSI

There's an exception to every rule and no exception has been bigger than Sam LaPorta this year. The conventional wisdom of "don't draft a rookie tight end" cost you a chance at the No. 1 tight end in Fantasy. That's right, LaPorta has outscored every other tight end and with T.J. Hockenson out for the year and Travis Kelce likely resting Week 18 it's all but a lock that LaPorta will finish the season as TE1.

While LaPorta has been awesome, this also illustrates just how condenses the top of the tight end rankings have been. He's on pace for 240 PPR Fantasy points, which would be the lowest TE1 season since Kelce's 231 back in 2017. Of course, teams only played 16 games back then. You have to go back another year to find a season where no tight end averaged 15 Fantasy points a game, as it looks like none will this year.

Of course, that's not to disparage LaPorta. His 81 catches are already tied for the most ever by a rookie tight end. His 860 receiving yards are the fifth-most ever for a rookie tight end and he has an excellent chance to climb to No. 3 this week. He's just the fifth rookie, regardless of position, to top 80 catches, 800 receiving yards, and eight receiving touchdowns in his first season. The future is bright for LaPorta and he is the future of the position.

You can find more in my weekly projections over at SportsLine. Now let's get to the rest of the Week 18 TE Preview:

Week 18 TE Preview
TE Preview
Who's Out

The following players are not being projected to play Week 18 at this time. Here's what it means:

KC Kansas City • #87
Age: 34 • Experience: 12 yrs.
We expect the Chiefs to rets their starters which would leave Noah Gray as the top tight end.
BAL Baltimore • #80
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Charlie Kolar should be the starting tight end if Likely rests.
LAR L.A. Rams • #89
Age: 31 • Experience: 9 yrs.
Davis Allen scored 15 Fantasy points earlier this season in a game Higbee missed.
SF San Francisco • #85
Age: 30 • Experience: 8 yrs.
Charlie Woerner may be the top 49ers tight end this weekend.
CLE Cleveland • #85
Age: 27 • Experience: 8 yrs.
Harrison Bryant should be the top pass-catching tight end for the Browns if David Njoku is out.
TE Preview
Numbers to Know
  • 16 -- Travis Kelce needs 16 receiving yards to extend his record to eight straight 1,000-yard seasons. Maybe he'll play a little bit.
  • 250,000 -- Dalton Schultz could earn $250,000 with six more receptions.
  • 33 -- Gerald Everett has seen 33 targets in his last four games.
  • 15.1 -- Dalton Kincaid has averaged 15.1 FPPG in games that Dawson Knox has missed or left early.
TE Preview
Matchups that matter
LV Las Vegas • #88
Age: 26 • Experience: 5 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ CIN CIN -6 O/U 39
OPP VS TE
9th
PROJ PTS
4.2
TE RNK
23rd
YTD Stats
REC
13
TAR
20
REYDS
81
TD
3
FPTS/G
2.4
HOU Houston • #86
Age: 27 • Experience: 7 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ IND HOU -1 O/U 47.5
OPP VS TE
18th
PROJ PTS
9.1
TE RNK
8th
YTD Stats
REC
54
TAR
81
REYDS
593
TD
5
FPTS/G
10.1
TE Preview
Waiver Wire Targets
Week 18 Streamer (TE Preview)
CHI Chicago • #14
Age: 29 • Experience: 8 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs KC LAC -3 O/U 36
OPP VS TE
6th
TE RNK
9th
ROSTERED
58%
YTD Stats
REC
50
TAR
69
REYDS
407
TD
3
FPTS/G
7.8
Everett hasn't exactly turned his increased target share into more Fantasy points, but I generally prioritize volume over everything and he has at least eight targets in five straight games. Especially with all the players who are uncertain in Week 18, ignore the Fantasy points and trust the targets this week.
GB Green Bay • #85
Age: 23 • Experience: 2 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs CHI GB -3 O/U 44
OPP VS TE
31st
TE RNK
12th
ROSTERED
33%
YTD Stats
REC
28
TAR
37
REYDS
324
TD
2
FPTS/G
4.5
Kraft is a top-10 tight end this week based on the Packers injuries at wide receiver and the general state of the position. It also helps that he has scored double-digit PPR Fantasy points in four straight games and the Bears have been plus matchup for tight ends. Just watch to make sure Luke Musgrave isn't back.
TE Preview
DFS Plays
Top DFS Play
Projections powered by Sportsline
ARI Arizona • #85
Age: 24 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
vs SEA SEA -2.5 O/U 47.5
OPP VS TE
9th
PROJ PTS
13.7
TE RNK
3rd
YTD Stats
REC
78
TAR
100
REYDS
791
TD
2
FPTS/G
10.6
McBride is the No. 2 tight end in Fantasy since Week 8. In that stretch he ranks tied for first in catches, and third in yards, despite the fact that he played with multiple QBs and had a bye. I expect him to finish the season strong and challenge to be the best tight end in Fantasy in 2024.
Contrarian DFS Play
Projections powered by Sportsline
DAL Dallas • #87
Age: 25 • Experience: 3 yrs.
Weekly Breakdown
MATCHUP
@ WAS DAL -13 O/U 45.5
OPP VS TE
19th
PROJ PTS
10.2
TE RNK
5th
YTD Stats
REC
65
TAR
96
REYDS
692
TD
5
FPTS/G
10.3
Ferguson hasn't scored a touchdown since Week 13. He hasn't topped 50 yards since Week 14. Hopefully that pulls down his roster rate, because the role is still just as good and the targets are still there. In a game that could see Dak Prescott throw for 400 yards and 4 TD if he wants to, I love the idea of an underpriced, under-rostered Ferguson.
TE Preview
Heath's Projections

My full set of Week 18 Fantasy Football projections for every position are now available on SportsLine. Find out which of my favorite plays are projected to score higher than consensus rankings and which don't live up to their draft hype, at least in Week 18. Projected stats for all starting quarterbacks are available at SportsLine.