Rodgers benefitted from wideout Jordy Nelson's absence by tying for the team-lead with eight touchdowns last season, but with Nelson returning, Davante Adams emerging, and, most importantly, Jared Cook joining Green Bay, Rodgers' role was reduced this time around. While the 25-year-old was still able to help the Packers move the sticks here and there, Cook's significantly more dynamic skill set left Rodgers as the team's second option at tight end, which unsurprisingly hurt his production. Overall, Rodgers' numbers closely mirrored those from his rookie campaign, providing incentive for him to elevate his game as he enters the final year of his current contract next season.
Green signed a four-year, $20 million contract with the Steelers last offseason, but went on to make just six appearances during the 2016 campaign due to ankle and concussion problems. While those issues limited the 26-year-old to 18 receptions for 304 yards and one score, his reported concussion history is the reason for most of the concern over his status in Pittsburgh going forward. For his part, Green said he's focused on bouncing back with an improved 2017 season, but it'll be interesting to see if both his body and the Steelers organization afford him that opportunity next term.
Despite trailing all game, all but one of James' receptions came before halftime, including what appeared to be a 19-yard touchdown that, upon review, was ruled down by contact at the one-yard line. The Steelers ultimately settled for a Chris Boswell field-goal, and never reached the end zone again until the final minutes of the game.
Cook led his team in catches and targets while coming up just four yards short of Randall Cobb's high-water mark. His 1-yard touchdown was of the garbage time variety, as it came with 6:43 left and the Falcons leading 44-15. The 29-year-old tight end's late-season chemistry with quarterback Aaron Rodgers should have owners excited for his second campaign in Green Bay come next year.
With fellow TE Rob Gronkowski (back) out for the season, Bennett - who has caught TD passes in three of his last five games -- remains in line to log a heavy workload Sunday as he continues to play through various aches and pains. With that in mind, NFL Network's Ian Rapoport relays that Bennett has been playing with a cracked bone/bone chips in his ankle, issues that are likely to be addressed by an offseason procedure.
With Green, who suffered his latest concussion back on Dec. 18, still sidelined, Jesse James is once again in line to continue to head the Steelers' tight end corps Sunday.
After seemingly tweaking his left knee in the latter stages of the Patriots' divisional-round win against the Texans, Bennett maintained a limited workload in practice this week. Nonetheless, he'll provide a big-bodied target for Tom Brady in the passing attack, seeking his fourth visit to the end zone in the last six contests.
Green's medical chart is fraught with concussions, the most recent of which has kept him out of commission since Dec. 18. In addition to his residence in the NFL's protocol for head injuries, he caught the illness that infiltrated the Steelers' locker room this week. If he remains sidelined Sunday, Jesse James will act as the No. 1 tight end yet again.
A 10-game suspension for a positive performance-enhancing drug test took a bite out out Boyle's second season and kept him in a limited role once he was reinstated. He was primarily used as a blocker to help in the run game, but he did catch everything thrown his way. Through 17 career games, Boyle has hauled in an impressive 24 of 29 (82.7 percent) of his targets. While Boyle is clearly valuable as an in-line blocker in the run game as well as a reliable pass catcher, the Ravens' logjam at tight end presents a problem for his role in 2017. Dennis Pitta is already entrenched as one of Joe Flacco's favorite targets and veteran Benjamin Watson, who is coming off an Achilles injury, is expected to be a factor as well.
The Ravens had a logjam at tight end for much of the season, with Dennis Pitta serving as the only reliable contributor at the position on a weekly basis. Waller didn't make his season debut until Week 5 and didn't see his first targets until his fourth appearance. That said, Waller began to capitalize on his limited opportunities as the season wore on, snaring just under 60 percent of his targets and converting two of them for touchdowns. Although his target volume and overall production don't jump off the page, it's worth noting that seven of his 17 targets (41 percent) came in the red zone. While that isn't much of a sample size, it's worth comparing that to Pitta's red zone target rate of 10.7 percent. Waller has the size (6-6, 245) and testing numbers, which include a 4.46 40-yard dash and 37-in vertical jump, to make him a red zone threat in the Ravens' passing attack. Given that quarterback Joe Flacco will not have major targets Steve Smith and possibly Kamar Aiken at his disposal, Waller could have some deep sleeper potential in 2017.