Fantasy Football Week 12: Start or Sit Brate, McDonald, or Reed?

Pittsburgh Steelers
Fantasy Football Week 12: Start or Sit Cam Brate, Vance McDonald, or Jordan Reed?

Week twelve is upon us, which means that some of us are just two games away from worrying about our fantasy football playoffs. If you’re still reading this, congratulations, the marginally-long slog of the fantasy football season hasn’t broken you yet. Every week, we at Football Absurdity like to highlight players with marginal matchups that you might get a wild hair about. We hope to provide you with some basic facts to help you inform your start or sit decisions. These tight ends have emerged from crowded TE rooms to have an opportunity to take advantage of plus matchups this week.

Start or Sit Cameron Brate versus San Francisco

O.J. Howard is out of the picture, Jameis Winston is under center, and it’s Cam Brate time in Tampa Bay. Is it the beginning of 2016 again already? Everything is setting up for a return to a startable fantasy football tight end commodity. Brate hasn’t been amazing without Winston under center, but since the beginning of 2016, the Jameis2Brate connection has been fantasy football gold. In 33 games with Winston, Brate averages a touchdown every other game alongside 40 yards and 3.39 catches a contest. Compare that to the seven games Brate played in that timeframe with anyone else under center (1.43 catches and 13 yards a contest, with just one touchdown). This week, Brate and the Bucs host an inept 49ers defense that has looked stout against tight ends recently, but in reality, they haven’t played many good tight ends since Jimmy Graham in week six. The capable tight ends they’ve played this year (Rudolph, Graham, Kelce, and Engram) have all posted at least 6.6 fantasy points against the Niners. They’re not great at defending tight ends, and Jameis to Brate is a powerful connection to try to harness. You may be in a bind, trying to start or sit Cam Brate, and if you’re in that position, he’s as good a start as any this week in a bleak position.

Start or Sit Vance McDonald at Denver

Vance McDonald has three of the things that you most want out of a tight end: consistent target share, red zone usage, and the trust of his quarterback. He’s sixth in TE targets per game over the last month and has scored in two straight. The Steelers have flip-flopped the timeshare between McDonald and Jesse James, as the 60% snap share James enjoyed in weeks 1-8 went down to 50%, and McDonald’s went up to 55%. Vance McDonald was out-targeted over the last three weeks nearly three-to-one. It’s really hard for me to say nice things about a man I spent years as a 49er fan watching have balls clank off his hands, so I have to lean extremely hard into data when deciding to start or sit McDonald, so please forgive me. This week, McDonald gets a Denver team who gave 76-year-old AARP president Antonio Gates 80 yards and a touchdown last week, and who has allowed a TE touchdown in three-straight games. They’re ninth in the league in fantasy points per game to tight end, and present for a great matchup for McDonald to snag his third touchdown in three games.

Start or Sit Jordan Reed at Dallas

Finally, we have a Jordan Reed sighting in Washington with Colt McCoy under center. Last week, Reed had double-digit targets for just the second time this season. He responded with 71 yards and a score. The reduction in talent from Alex Smith to Colt McCoy should probably help Jordan Reed, as a one-game sample size shows that he will focus in on Reed to the detriment of the rest of the squad. Now, Washington gets to take on a Dallas squad that has failed to stop tight ends in any meaningful way recently. Since their bye, they’ve allowed three touchdowns in three games to tight ends, and guess what? There’s nobody else in Washington to catch passes. It never really stopped being Jordan Reed SZN in Washington, but on Thanksgiving, Colt McCoy is going to have to lean on him to the tune of 10-15 targets, including a large chunk of red zone work. He never stopped being talented, so that opportunity against a faltering tight end defense means that those considering a start or sit decision between Reed and someone else should probably lean towards a start for Jordan Reed.

These three tight ends this week are all likely to be good options for you, but if you’re trying to decide who to start or sit, I would go with:

  1. Jordan Reed
  2. Cameron Brate
  3. Vance McDonald

If you need more start or sit advice, check out the remainder of our start and sit articles for week twelve!
Start or Sit Baker Mayfield, Nick Mullens, or Eli Manning?
Start or Sit Dak Prescott, Andy Dalton, or Kirk Cousins?
Start or Sit Mohamed Sanu, Keke Coutee, or Sterling Shepard?
Start or Sit Marques Valdez-Scantling, Christian Kirk, or Corey Davis?
Start or Sit Marlon Mack, Gus Edwards, or Josh Adams?
Start or Sit Adrian Peterson, Chris Carson, or LeSean McCoy?
Start or Sit Evan Engram, Kyle Rudolph, or Jared Cook?

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About Jeff Krisko

You can follow me on twitter, @jeffkrisko for the same lukewarm takes you read here.

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