The New England Patriots and Minnesota Vikings go head-to-head as the nightcap matchup on the NFL’s Thanksgiving schedule. Bill Belichick has been known to ride the hot hand as a path to victory each week, meaning any given player could be viable for a breakout performance. Could either tight end Hunter Henry or Jonnu Smith be candidates to start in fantasy lineups for Week 12?
Fantasy Football analysis: Patriots TEs Hunter Henry & Jonnu Smith
With the Patriots’ heavy reliance on the run game, it has translated into slim pickings for the rest of the receiving corps. Despite New England’s high usage of tight ends in years past, the same has not carried over into 2022. Henry is coming off a performance with just one catch for 20 yards in last week’s win versus the Jets. Smith respectively caught all four passes for a total of 40 receiving yards, which is the second-highest receiving total for him this season. Minnesota does allow the ninth-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends, but that trend is predicated on a team’s quarterback consistently looking to make plays with his arm.
And that is where the issue lies for Henry and Smith’s fantasy ceilings. Mac Jones has not been asked to consistently make plays with his arm as he ranks 30th among all quarterbacks in pass attempts. The formula has been to run the ball and lean on the Patriots’ defense in any given matchup. While that benefits the duo of Rhamondre Stevenson and Damien Harris in the backfield, the tight-end duo of Henry and Smith are left as the odd men out.
Start or sit in Week 12?
New England does not produce a high volume of pass attempts in order to benefit the larger receiving corps, meaning that Henry and Smith have not displayed enough fantasy production to warrant consideration as starters. They are both best kept on the bench both this week and going forward.