by Eric Stashin (aka The Rotoprofessor)
There have been a lot of injuries to tight ends recently, from Dennis Pitta being lost for the season to Kyle Rudolph missing a few weeks. Throw in six teams being on byes, and a position once rich with options suddenly is relatively barren. Who are the best options, though? Let’s take a look:
- Jimmy Graham – New Orleans Saints – at Dallas
- Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots – at Kansas City
- Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers – at Baltimore
- Martellus Bennett – Chicago Bears – vs. Green Bay
- Delanie Walker – Tennessee Titans – at Indianapolis
- Heath Miller – Pittsburgh Steelers – vs. Tampa Bay
- Antonio Gates – San Diego Chargers – vs. Jacksonville
- Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles – at San Francisco
- Niles Paul – Washington Redskins – vs. New York Giants
- Larry Donnell – New York Giants – at Washington
- Jason Witten – Dallas Cowboys – vs. New Orleans
- Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. New England
- Charles Clay – Miami Dolphins – at Oakland
- Garrett Graham – Houston Texans – vs. Buffalo
- Dwayne Allen – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Tennessee
- Ladarius Green – San Diego Chargers – vs. Jacksonville
- Levine Toilolo – Atlanta Falcons – at Minnesota
- Coby Fleener – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Tennessee
- Brandon Myers – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – at Pittsburgh
- Mychal Rivera – Oakland Raiders – vs. Miami
- We knew Antonio Gates wouldn’t replicate his Week 2 success (7 catches, 96 yards, 3 TD), but only 1 target in Week 3? Really? Ladarius Green saw his role increase, catching 4 of his 6 targets for 64 yards (though not his snaps). With a matchup against the Jaguars in Week 4, a team who has allowed 25 receptions for 293 yards and 4 TD to opposing tight ends, Gates is still a TE1. However, given the matchup Green should enjoy a good day as well.
- Rob Gronkowski continues to fail to “explode” as he hasn’t had more than 4 catches or 44 yards in a game yet this season. However, he does have 2 TD and faces a Chiefs’ team that’s allowed 3 TD to opposing TE. Consider him a good option in all formats, as it’s only a matter of time before he explodes.
- Over the past two weeks Delanie Walker has been targeted 21 times, and on the season he’s racked up 179 yards and 2 TD on 17 receptions. He should continue to be one of the top targets for Jake Locker, though the Colts haven’t allowed a TD to a tight end since Julius Thomas burned them for 3 TD in Week 1 (in fact, over the past two weeks they’ve allowed a total of 6 catches for 102 yards and 0 TD to tight ends). He’s going to be a good option, but it’s hard to consider him elite.
- The Green Bay Packers have been among the best defensively against tight ends, but who have they faced? A pair of rookies (Jace Amaro and Eric Ebron) as well as a Seattle team that doesn’t utilize its tight end much. In other words, don’t ignore Martellus Bennett.
- The Giants’ Larry Donnell has become one of Eli Manning’s favorite targets, as he’s turned 23 targets into 18 catches for 182 yards and 1 TD. However, he obviously hasn’t been a main factor in the red zone and therefore is going to be downgraded a bit. It also doesn’t help that the Redskins have allowed a measly 6 receptions to opposing tight ends over the first three weeks.
- Will Jordan Reed play in Week 4? It’s an unknown, but with the way Niles Paul has been going the team has no reason to rush him. Even if he does return, can we simply assume he’s going to come back to a starting role? For now we’re leaving Reed off the rankings, but monitor the news as the week progresses.
- Charles Clay is clearly banged up right now, which is limiting his performance (12 catches for 79 yards in three games). Keep that in mind before simply setting him into your starting lineup.
- Vernon Davis would be a Top 12 option, if healthy. However, with his status in doubt we are going to leave him off the rankings for the time being.
- Maybe this will be the week Levine Toilolo sees his role expand for the Falcons? Minnesota has allowed 19 receptions to opposing tight ends, tied for sixth most in the league. The upside is definitely there for those who are desperate.
Make sure to check out all of our Week 4 rankings: