Jason Witten is the Dallas Cowboys’ all-time leader in catches and receiving yards, not just among tight ends, but all-time… period. Every year, he puts up good tight end reception counts and yardage, but it is always a slow and steady stream. That’s great if you are trying to achieve a long-term goal. But it stinks if you’re a fantasy owner. How many weeks can you settle for five points from your tight end?
After two weeks of the 2017 season, however, Witten’s NFL fantasy owners are flying high with the top-rated tight end in the league. Not only is Witten’s 156 receiving yards, second only to Zach Ertz’ 190, but he scored a touchdown in each game.
Can he keep this up? Or will Witten quickly revert to his supplemental role in the Dallas offense?
How he did it
Week 1 saw the Dallas Cowboys run up against the New York Giants. If there is one team in the league who has seen enough of Witten, it is the Giants. He has more back-breaking receptions against them than anyone. It was a foregone conclusion he would pile onto the Giants misery on opening night. Sure enough, he made New York pay for failing to run out the clock before the half, taking in the only touchdown of the night on a slant pattern that was over before the defense moved.
In the second game, the Denver Broncos worked hard to take out Dallas’ wide receivers. Dak Prescott’s only option on several plays was his big tight end. Witten almost broke 100 yards receiving (97) along with his second touchdown.
While Week 1 was inevitable, last week’s production was a result of playing what the defense was giving to the Cowboys. What are the odds that will happen again?
Arizona has a couple of good cornerbacks, too. They will lock onto Dez Bryant and Terrance Williams again. After last week’s disaster in Denver, Dallas will try to establish their running game very quickly. But they have to pass sometimes. The Cardinals have a strong linebacking unit charged with covering Witten, but the experienced veteran has a knack for breaking free when his team needs him.
At a glance, it looks like the Arizona defense matches up against the Dallas passing game about the same as Denver did. This could put Jason Witten in a position to stay on top of the tight end rankings with his third touchdown and a good number of yards for the third consecutive week.
Of course, Cole Beasley or Brice Butler could just as easily take some of those potential Witten targets. Running back Ezekiel Elliott might want to eradicate whispers about his Week 2 effort by winning this game single-handedly. He could take some targets, too.
So… is Witten a must-start?
The thought of Jason Witten scoring double-digit NFL fantasy points three weeks in a row seems so… unusual. If I was playing historical patterns or odds, I would pass on him. But I am playing fantasy football and we go with the hot hand until he crushes our soul with a 40-yard, scoreless fantasy line. I like the odds that Witten extends his streak another week, but I also liked the odds of the Titanic making it to New York. And that was in the movie when I already knew what would actually happen.
So… with a nagging little doubt whispering in the back of my brain… yes. I believe Jason Witten is a must-start on the Monday Night stage in Week 3.
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