Fantasy Football: Week 16 TE rankings

Better late than never for Panthers' Olsen to regain fantasy relevance

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Last week in Charlotte was supposed to be about the return of Aaron Rodgers.

As it turns out it was about the return of Greg Olsen to fantasy relevance and the departure of Panthers' owner Jerry Richardson amid horrific sexual and racial misconduct allegations.

Good riddance to Richardson, and welcome back to Olsen, who was sorely missed by fantasy owners for most of a season in which tight end volatility has ruled the day.

Well, it was Olsen ruling the Packers on Sunday with his first touchdown of the season in addition to his first 100-yard receiving day (9-1161) in more than 14 months. If Olsen's resurgent production vs. a defense that entered Sunday ranked No. 1 vs. fantasy tight ends wasn't convincing enough, a look at his usage reflects a player whose surgically repaired foot is limiting him less as the games mean more.

Olsen has played 94.8 percent of the snaps the past two weeks — including a season-high 97.3 vs. Green Bay — up from just 33.8 in his first game back from IR. He attracted 12 targets Sunday, more than doubling his previous two games, when he parlayed five combined targets into just one grab and 10 yards.

Olsen — whose Panthers can still win the NFC South or lose out on a postseason berth altogether — encores against a Bucs 'D' that just placed second-round S Justin Evans on IR and could potentially again be without stud LB Lavonte David. Tampa has been solid defending tight ends, with just three combined touchdowns — tied for the second fewest league wide — plus 610 yards, which also ranks near the top of the league.

But Evans and David are a big part of that success, and Mike Smith's unit helped Olsen log a career-high 181 receiving yards the last time it arrived in Carolina.

We talked up Olsen in this space in his first game back, that one-catch dud vs. the Jets in November. That was blind faith for a known commodity coming off a tough injury. We saw more than enough last week to endorse Olsen as an upper-tier option Sunday with a championship on the line.

1. Rob Gronkowski, Patriots vs. Bills

2. Travis Kelce, Chiefs vs. Dolphins

3. Zach Ertz, Eagles vs. Raiders

4. Delanie Walker, Titans vs. Rams

5. Kyle Rudolph, Vikings at Packers

6. Greg Olsen, Panthers vs. Buccaneers

7. Jimmy Graham, Seahawks at Cowboys

8. Evan Engram, Giants at Cardinals

9. Jack Doyle, Colts at Ravens

10. Jason Witten, Cowboys vs. Seahawks

11. Eric Ebron, Lions at Bengals

12. Cam Brate, Buccaneers at Panthers

13. Vernon Davis, Washington vs. Broncos

14. Antonio Gates, Chargers at Jets

15. Jesse James, Steelers at Texans

16. Jared Cook, Raiders at Eagles

17. Ben Watson, Ravens vs. Colts

18. Tyler Kroft, Bengals vs. Lions

19. Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jets vs. Chargers

20. Garrett Celek, 49ers vs. Jaguars

Pro Football Weekly