Nobody doubts Darren Waller as a top-three Fantasy tight end. But there are questions about when to draft him and whether or not to do so over George Kittle. The keys to Waller's success have included staying healthy, seeing a steady diet of targets (7.3 per game in 2019, 9.1 in 2020), and in the case of last year, scoring once every 12 receptions. Above all, Waller has landed at least 10 PPR points in 22 of his past 32 games and at least 15 PPR points in 10 of his past 16. That's excellent. Kittle's track record suggests even more upside than Waller, but Waller's been healthier and is in line to retain his heavy target volume whereas Kittle may see a dip with receivers emerging in San Francisco. Both deserve attention as soon as mid-Round 2 as elite options at the thin tight-end position, but Waller might be considered the safer pick in PPR because of those targets. If he's still on the board by 28th overall, steal him.
Chiefs tight end Travis Kelce told NFL Films that Waller is "knocking at the door," adding that he can "feel [Waller] on my heels." Kelce remains widely acknowledged as the cream of the crop at his position, but he knows Waller and 49ers tight end George Kittle aren't far behind. Waller even reached a new level over the final five weeks of last season, averaging 8.6 catches for 130.8 yards and 0.8 touchdowns on 11.0 targets per game. He'll again be the top receiving threat in Las Vegas, where John Brown, Henry Ruggs, Bryan Edwards and Hunter Renfrow top the depth chart at wide receiver.
Waller caught nine of 10 targets for 117 yards and a touchdown in Sunday's 32-31 win over the Broncos. He also caught the game-winning two-point conversion. The tight end was nearly unstoppable over the final five weeks of the season, piling up a 43-654-4 line on 55 targets, and Waller wraps up 2020 with career highs in catches (107), yards (1,196) and TDs (10). The 28-year-old has emerged the last two years as Derek Carr's favorite option in the Raiders passing game, and while the team's crop of young wideouts could take a big step forward next year, Waller still figures to be the team's most dangerous receiver.
Waller secured five of six targets for 112 yards during Saturday's 26-25 loss to the Dolphins. Had Miami not been able to pull out an improbable win in the final 20 seconds, Dolphins cornerback Eric Rowe would have endured even worse nightmares regarding Waller's Week 16 performance. The first-time Pro Bowl tight end logged four separate gains of 19-plus yards on the night, including a marvelous one-handed grab over Rowe in the third quarter. With Las Vegas eliminated from playoff contention given a Week 16 loss, Waller heads into the Raiders' 2020 finale needing just 21 yards against Denver to establish a second consecutive 1,100-yard season. The 28-year-old's eight touchdowns, meanwhile, have already more than doubled his previous career best of three.
Waller brought in nine of 12 targets for 150 yards and a touchdown in the Raiders' 30-27 overtime loss to the Chargers on Thursday night. Derek Carr's late first-quarter exit did nothing to dampen the Pro Bowl tight end's production, as Waller led all pass catchers in receptions, receiving yards and targets on the night. The 28-year-old notched Las Vegas' first touchdown of the contest with a 35-yard grab early in the second quarter on a pass from Marcus Mariota, and he continued to connect frequently with the veteran backup throughout the game. Waller now has at least Thursday's nine-catch tally in four games, certainly an impressive feat for a player at his position. His remarkable effort against the Chargers also put Waller within 33 yards of a second straight 1,000-yard season, a benchmark he'll look to reach in a Week 16 Saturday night battle versus the Dolphins on Dec. 26.
Waller caught seven of 10 targets for 75 yards during Sunday's 44-27 loss to the Colts. Waller led the team in targets and catches while finishing second in yards despite receiving special attention from an elite Indianapolis defense. He averaged just 10.7 yards per catch after his epic 200-yard performance a week ago, but it was still a strong showing from one of the NFL's most productive tight ends. Waller has posted at least 75 yards in three of his last four games, scoring three touchdowns in that span, and he'll look to add to his numbers Thursday against a Chargers defense that has been vulnerable to opposing tight ends this season.
|WK||DATE||OPP||OPP RANK||OPP FPTS|
|4||10/04||@Los Angeles Chargers||22||7.88|
|9||11/07||@New York Giants||10||6.63|
|10||11/14||Kansas City Chiefs||30||9.68|
|13||12/05||Washington Football Team||9||6.47|
|14||12/12||@Kansas City Chiefs||30||9.68|
|18||01/09||Los Angeles Chargers||22||7.88|
Red Zone Trends
|3 Year Avg||90||68||805||4||42||11.84||102|