by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
The by weeks have a significant impact on the tight end position, as Zack Ertz will be among those not available to fantasy owners. At a position that has often been unpredictable losing that type of option hurts, but those who jumped on breakouts George Kittle, O.J. Howard and others have been consistently rewarded (and should continue to be). Who are the options that you can “trust”? It’s never a guarantee (look at David Njoku from a week ago) but let’s look at who the best bets are:
- Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs – at Cleveland
- George Kittle – San Francisco 49ers – vs. Oakland
- Jimmy Graham – Green Bay Packers – at New England
- Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots – vs. Green Bay
- Jared Cook – Oakland Raiders – at San Francisco
- O.J. Howard – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Carolina
- Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers – vs. Tampa Bay
- Austin Hooper – Atlanta Falcons – at Washington
- Jordan Reed – Washington Redskins – vs. Atlanta
- David Njoku – Cleveland Browns – vs. Kansas City
- Trey Burton – Chicago Bears – at Buffalo
- Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings – vs. Detroit
- Vance McDonald – Pittsburgh Steelers – at Baltimore
- Chris Herndon – New York Jets – at Miami
- Benjamin Watson – New Orleans Saints – vs. Los Angeles Rams
- Jordan Thomas – Houston Texans – at Denver
- Cameron Brate – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Carolina
- Charles Clay – Buffalo Bills – vs. Chicago
- Mark Andrews – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Pittsburgh
- Jeff Heurman – Denver Broncos – vs. Houston
- The Carolina Panthers have allowed the most points per week to opposing tight ends, having allowed 48 receptions, 545 yards and 5 TD. While O.J. Howard doesn’t always get enough targets (he’s had more than 4 in just two of seven games) he’s proven capable of making the most of the opportunities. He had one complete dud (Week 4 against Chicago), but he has at least 54 yards in his other six games and since the bye week has at least 62 yards in each of the three games and has scored TD in two of them. Howard has also proven capable of producing regardless of who is under center, so the change back to Ryan Fitzpatrick shouldn’t have an impact. Even with 4 targets he should be productive, but if he gets more Howard could really be in store for a monster day.
- Would it surprise you to learn that George Kittle is among the Top 5 tight ends in terms of targets? He’s turned 57 targets into 37 receptions, 584 yards and 2 TD and draws an Oakland defense that’s allowed 5 TD to opposing tight ends (tied for the most in the league). That’s a solid mix for a player who has entrenched himself as a TE1.
- While Jimmy Graham took a virtual goose egg in Week 8 (1 reception for 21 yards), is it hard to imagine a bounce back performance? While Green Bay has gotten healthy at wide receiver the matchup with the Patriots could easily devolve into a shootout and the Patriots have generally struggled to defend opposing tight ends.
- It’s been a slow build back up to value for Greg Olsen, and even in Week 8 he only had 4 targets. Of course he turned that into 4 receptions, 56 yards and 1 TD, his second straight game with a score, and Tampa Bay has struggled to defend opposing tight ends thus far (second most points per week). We all know the upside and this could be his “true” return to fantasy relevance.
- Chris Herndon has just 11 targets over his past three games (in two of those games he has just 2 targets), but he’s clearly built a red zone rapport with Sam Darnold. He’s now scored in three straight games and draws a Miami defense that has allowed 5 TD to opposing TE on the season. Considering the bye weeks and lack of dependable options, it’s easy to envision utilizing Herndon as a plug in option.
- No targets for David Njoku in Week 8?!?! Look for Cleveland to correct that this week, so don’t completely shy away from him
Make sure to check out all of our Week 9 rankings: