by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
While the position has slowly gotten healthy, it’s also been bolstered by some emerging young players taking advantage of some opportunities. Players like David Njoku, Trey Burton and George Kittle are quickly establishing themselves as must start options, and when coupled with the veterans the weekly outlook doesn’t appear bleak. Who are the players we should be trusting this week? Who is too risky to start? Let’s take a look at how our rankings currently shake out:
- Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Denver
- Zack Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles – at Jacksonville
- David Njoku – Cleveland Browns – at Pittsburgh
- Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots – at Buffalo
- Jared Cook – Oakland Raiders – vs. Indianapolis
- Trey Burton – Chicago Bears – vs. New York Jets
- Jimmy Graham – New Orleans Saints – at Los Angeles Rams
- George Kittle – San Francisco 49ers – at Arizona
- O.J. Howard – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Cincinnati
- Eric Ebron – Indianapolis Colts – at Oakland
- Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers – vs. Baltimore
- Jordan Reed – Washington Redskins – at New York Giants
- Evan Engram – New York Giants – vs. Washington
- Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings – vs. New Orleans
- Chris Herndon – New York Jets – at Chicago
- Vance McDonald – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Cleveland
- C.J. Uzomah – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Tampa Bay
- Benjamin Watson – New Orleans Saints – at Minnesota
- Cameron Brate – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Cincinnati
- Mike Gesicki – Miami Dolphins – at Houston
- Zack Ertz has a difficult matchup with Jacksonville, but at the same time he has been targeted at least 9 times in each game this season and has 100+ yards in three of his past four. When it comes to opportunity no tight end has even come close (Ertz has 78 targets with Travis Kelce, at 60, a distant second) and that’s more than enough. Maybe he’s not the elite option due to the matchup, but it’s impossible to move him outside the Tier 1 options.
- With Baker Mayfield under center the role of David Njoku has continued to grow. He has now racked up at least 50 yards in four straight games while catching a TD in back-to-back contests. Taking on a Steelers defense that’s allowed the third most points per week to opposing tight ends, and with the opportunities he’s been getting as the receiving corps has been banged up, Njoku has emerged as a must use option in all formats.
- While Rob Gronkowski missed Week 7 due to injury all expectations are that he’ll be back on the field for Week 8. There obviously is a little bit of extra risk given the injury and he continues to fall short of expectations, but with the running game potentially in shambles (though reports are that Sonny Michel isn’t hurt as badly as initially thought) it’s easy to envision Gronkowski suddenly erupting and putting together a string of strong games.
- It was a monster day for Trey Burton, turning 11 targets into 9 receptions, 126 yards and 1 TD. While the actual production has been a bit inconsistent, he’s scored in three straight games (and four of out five). While the Jets have suppressed yardage to opposing tight ends they have allowed 3 TD and with Mitchell Trubisky growing/emerging his rapport with Burton should only continue to yield big results.
- After getting limited opportunities, the Jets’ Chris Herndon is slowing emerging. In Week 6 he turned 2 targets into 2 catches, 56 yards and 1 TD. He followed that up with 7 targets in Week 7, managing 4 catches, 42 yards and 1 TD. With the Jets’ receiving corps banged up there’s a good chance that Herndon continues to see his role grow and he could quickly develop into a trustworthy safety valve for Sam Darnold.
Make sure to check out all of our Week 8 rankings: