This season, the tight end position has been a tumultuous one. From injuries to underwhelming performances, everything about the position has been a struggle for most owners.
Charles Clay was looking great until he got injured. Greg Olsen was a weekly starter and one less thing to worry about for fantasy owners until he got injured. Tyler Eifert is doing Tyler Eifert things.
Tight end is a skill position with a limited number of guys worth starting, and whenever the position is hit with uncertainty, a tidal wave of projections inevitably takes the Internet by storm.
This week’s fact vs. fiction aims to weed through the mess at the tight end position by looking at some popular players on the waiver wire.
Is Ed Dickson a Weekly Starter?
Owned in 43.4% of ESPN leagues.
Look, I think the departure of Greg Olsen opens things up for a lot of players. Devin Funchess is enjoying the fruits of his absence. Two weeks ago, Ed Dickson saw the best game of his career. Whenever teams lose a pro-bowl player it creates a huge void that is usually filled by several people.
The only game that Greg Olsen played the entire game this season was their first game against San Francisco. Dickson was only on the field for 59.7% of the offensive snaps during that game. Over the past three games, Dickson has been on the field for right around 100% of the offensive plays. This is right in line with how often Greg Olsen saw the field when he was healthy. Dickson has been on the field for 283 snaps this season (fourth on the team) and his fantasy numbers have trended upward as a result.
Last week, Dickson was quiet in comparison to his monster effort in week five with four receptions for 36 yards against the Eagles. Those numbers may not be game winners, but for a position that has been hemorrhaging talent for weeks, it at least signifies usage.
Compared to some of the other options on the waiver wire, that usage is harder to find than you may think. Dickson will be a touchdown or bust player, but at least he was targeted twice inside the 20-yard line and once inside the 10-yard line in Thursday night’s game against the Eagles. Those three targets were his first inside the 20-yard line the entire season, so maybe Cam was right about his role expanding.
As far as finding a tight end that sees the field often and has a good rapport with his quarterback, Ed Dickson fits the bill. He’s also part of an offense that, with the exception of the run game, is clicking well. He currently has four weeks until Olsen is able to return from injured reserve.
Fact: Dickson is more of a dice roll than a sure thing, but the waiver wire at the tight end position resembles a raccoon picked clean on the side of the interstate. We’re all just buzzards looking for scraps. Still, the Panthers offense is scoring points, which makes this dice role more enticing than other options on the waiver wire.
Is Jared Cook an Option Moving Forward?
Owned in 63.1% of ESPN leagues.
For the past three weeks, Jared Cook has underwhelmed considering his weekly predictions have placed him near the top of available waiver wire adds. To be fair, the entire Raiders offense has underwhelmed all season.
One week after Cook caught four of six targets for forty-three yards and a touchdown, he saw his target share increase drastically when backup quarterback EJ Manuel came into the game. Yet, he failed to take full advantage of the eight targets in that game and struggled in the red zone.
Since then he has seen his target share and YPC decrease while failing to get into the end zone. Granted, the Raiders are facing a grueling schedule this season and this portion of their schedule is particularly tough. But that is something you should account for when deciding whom to start.
Another thing you should account for is how the offense is doing. The Raiders are averaging around thirteen points over the past four games.
Cook has been a weekly staple at the top of tight end projections currently sitting on the waiver wire. These projections are clearly being inflated by a bit of hope that the high-powered Raiders offense from last season returns. But I said it before the season began so I’ll l say it again: the Raiders had an extremely easy schedule last season.
Fiction: There are better options on the waiver wire at this position. However, if you are playing the streaming game with your tight ends there might be some hope. After the Raiders bye week, they have an appealing match up against the Patriots, which also happens to be Ed Dickson/Greg Olsen’s bye week.
Is Zach Miller Legit?
Owned in 28.8% of ESPN leagues.
I wish I could open this one up by saying that Miller’s two touchdowns are the result of beautiful chemistry with his quarterback, but he caught a touchdown pass from a running back last week so . . .
Nevertheless, there is a lot to like in a tight end who has caught two touchdowns in as many weeks. Trubisky, targeted him heavily in their week five loss to Minnesota. Last week against the Ravens he wasn’t targeted as much, but that can be explained by the Bears game plan looking to attack Baltimore’s weak run defense.
Regardless, Miller is a consistent receiving option on a team that is noticeably short in that department. He’s also a tight end on a team with rookie quarterback fleshing out the first few games of his career, and there is a lot to be said for the rookie quarterback to tight end connection.
The Bears will face off against the Panthers (who might be without Luke Keuchly this week) and the Saints in the coming weeks, so everything looks good as far as the schedule goes.
The only thing that makes me pause for concern is Miller's dependence on touchdown dances for fantasy relevance due to the team's dependence on the run game to move the chains, but if the bond between Trubisky and Miller grows stronger that could soon be a worry of the past.
Fact: Zach Miller is the best tight end option available on the waiver wire. His usage is trending up. His schedule is nothing to worry about. He’s scored in each of the past two games. Can you name a wide receiver on the Chicago Bears?