Week 3 Review:
Injuries piled up on us in Week 3 and left us with a ton of value. Cameron Brate, Richard Rodgers, and John Phillips all cracked the Top 12 at the position as a result. The left-for-dead Jace Amaro was 14th at the position due to Delanie Walker being scratched. Hunter Henry filled in admirably for a hobbled Antonio Gates and finished 16th.
Week 3 was a great reminder of how important opportunity is in the fake game. One negative example is Jordan Reed’s poor finish (TE15) against the Giants. The emergence of Jamison Crowder and the health of DeSean Jackson have contributed to Reed’s lesser amount of chances in 2016. Unless Reed gets more involved in this offense his value drops from elite to merely steady—similar to how I view Travis Kelce each week. Incidentally, Kelce is averaging 7 targets per game this season, and Reed has exactly 7 targets in each of his last two weeks.
Here is a list of 2016’s most targeted tight ends, compiled by my good friends at FantasyPros.
Dennis Pitta had six catches on six targets in the first half of last Sunday’s matchup against the Raiders, but for only 42 yards. He was only targeted twice in the second half and failed to convert either, making him a colossal Week 3 bust at the position as the TE19. I am going right back to him this week, however, as the Raiders are one of the league’s worst (24th) against opposing tight ends.
I have Pitta ranked one spot ahead of Zach Miller, as I love Miller’s matchup but anticipate the Bears having a lead this weekend. I like the game script for Pitta just a little bit better, and Pitta is averaging 8.0 targets per game compared to Miller’s 6.0 targets per game. Miller did have 9 last week, but in a matchup where I expect his team to be leading, I think Pitta may have slightly more opportunities (Pitta leads the Ravens in targets with 24).
Dwayne Allen (TE20) also failed to produce in a quality matchup last weekend, and was outplayed by teammate Jack Doyle (TE11). As long as Donte Moncrief is on the shelf, I expect the Colts to utilize more two-TE sets and for Doyle to remain relevant. Doyle played 70% of snaps in Week 3, and that probably won’t go away as long as Moncrief is shelved. Allen is well-known as an excellent blocker, and that may be his downfall in this situation. From where I’m sitting, Doyle looks like the better short-term play in fantasy since he gets to run the routes and make the catches...we don’t get points for blocking. Don’t @ me. I’m just the messenger.
Let’s end with some good news: Coby Fleener finished as the overall TE2 against Atlanta, turning 11 targets into 7 receptions for 109 yards and a score. I said last week that Fleener getting 8ish targets was enticing against Atlanta. I could not bring myself to roster him in seasonal leagues or in DFS, but the logic was sound and Fleener earned a little trust back. He is an elite play for me this week in another potential shootout.
Finally, Jimmy Graham is back! He turned 9 targets into 6 catches, 100 yards, and a score against the lowly 49ers. He finished as the TE5 and is squarely back in the TE1 conversation this week after his impressive return from a torn patellar tendon. I’ll admit to thinking Graham was done after said injury, and my preseason rankings reflected that sentiment. I am happy to admit that I was wrong and thrilled to add another viable tight end to my rankings each week. This position is a bit dodgy at times. It’s nice to have another body.
Week 4 Rankings and Thoughts:
1. Greg Olsen
2. Rob Gronkowski
3. Coby Fleener
4. Jordan Reed
5. Dennis Pitta
6. Zach Miller
7. Travis Kelce
This week is your last week to get Rob Gronkowski low-owned in your DFS matchups. The injury risk will scare some people away, but Gronk has reported zero setbacks and has had another 10 days to rest up and to get healthy. He offers double-digit touchdown upside every week, even if he is on pitch count. The only reason I rank him #2 is because I think Desmond Trufant will be draped all over Kelvin Benjamin this weekend and I expect Olsen to be the primary beneficiary as the offense gets funneled his way.
The best matchup for tight ends each week may just be the Detroit Lions defense. So far the Lions have allowed five touchdowns to tight ends in 2016. Richard Rodgers was the latest beneficiary this past Sunday. Up next is Zach Miller, who should be a popular pick this week after two touchdowns against Dallas this past Sunday night. The only reason he isn’t in my Top 5 is because I do (crazily enough) expect the Bears to be in control and to throw a little less against Detroit.
8. Kyle Rudolph
9. Julius Thomas
10. Jimmy Graham
11. Eric Ebron
12. Jason Witten
Kyle Rudolph is averaging 8.7 targets per game, only slightly behind Greg Olsen for the league lead (9.0). Given Sam Bradford’s affinity for throwing to the tight end, on volume alone it is time to come around to Rudolph as a viable TE1.
Jason Witten had a whopping 14 targets in Week 1 and has to be back in the circle of trust as a low-end TE1 with Dez Bryant on the shelf. Sure, Cole Beasley has made an impact and Terrance Williams will get a larger piece of the pie, but Dak has shown an affinity for the big safety blanket already and I don’t expect that to change this weekend. Witten lacks upside, but as a dependable low-end TE1 he is tough to beat—especially in PPR formats.
13. Hunter Henry
14. Delanie Walker
15. Gary Barnidge
16. Jack Doyle
17. Dwayne Allen
Antonio Gates did not practice on Wednesday or Thursday, so I’m using Hunter Henry as a streamer this week in a plus matchup against New Orleans. He gets the nod over Delanie Walker, who has a tough matchup and is still barely back from a hamstring injury. If Gates does somehow miraculously get some practice in on Friday and muddy up the waters, I suppose I’ll have to switch things up...but right now I expect Gates to sit for another week since he wasn’t close to playing in Week 3.
Doyle gets the nod over Allen for me. Putting my proverbial money where my mouth is. I think Doyle is the guy while Moncrief is out. So I’m ranking like it. That said, tight end literally drops off a cliff after these guys this week. So Allen is right behind him.
18. Cameron Brate
19. Jacob Tamme
20. Virgil Green/John Phillips
21. Charles Clay
22. Martellus Bennett
23. Clive Walford
24. Jesse James
This is officially the tier where you basically pray for a touchdown. I can’t ignore Brate’s large amount of targets last week (10) but he does have a brutal matchup with Denver. Virgil Green missed last week, so if he doesn’t go I have no problem slotting John Phillips in his place.
After James, the only (somewhat) viable options would be Vance McDonald, Ryan Griffin, Garrett Celek, Lance Kendricks, Will Tye, and Larry Donnell. And any of these guys could get two targets and it would not surprise me. Good luck if you are diving down this deep.
That’s it for another week. Share your own plays in the comments—let’s all get better at this fake game together. Hit me up on Twitter on Sunday morning if you find some cheap value or come across a worthy tidbit. I’m always looking for that tiny edge in my DFS games, just like all the rest of you.