If you predicted that Austin Hooper and Jesse James would be the top scoring tight ends in NFL fantasy football, congratulations. But I don’t believe you. Jason Witten snuck into third but two perennial sleeper candidates round out the top five. Coby Fleener and Charles Clay each had a touchdown that propelled them into the upper echelon. More recognizable names are poised to take back their leaderboard slots. Will it happen this week?
START THIS GUY: Zach Ertz, Philadelphia (at Kansas City)
Kansas City is usually very stout against tight ends, but Zach Ertz is one of three tight ends who made the top-10 without scoring a touchdown. His 93 yards led Philadelphia receivers. He caught all eight of his targets. You know Carson Wentz will be looking for him.
The Chiefs defensive backfield has to make adjustments without safety Eric Berry. Ertz will settle into openings for Wentz. Eventually, a touchdown will come.
SIT THIS GUY: Jordan Reed, Washington (at L.A. Rams)
Reed looked like a shell of himself last week as he hobbles along with a bad toe. This week, he goes against a much tougher defense in the Rams. Besides giving up last year’s fifth lowest tight end NFL fantasy point total, the Rams new head coach is intimately familiar with the Redskin offense and tendencies of their players. It will be a long day for the Redskins.
START THIS GUY: Zach Miller, Chicago (at Tampa Bay)
When Chicago started getting thin at wide receiver last season, Miller became a force in the receiving game. Chicago is again facing a dearth of receiving options. Miller and Dion Sims split the tight end snaps against Atlanta last week, making Sims a possible target, too. But Miller is the tried-and-true commodity. Don’t be surprised if we see two-tight end sets regularly this week.
SIT THIS GUY: Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati (vs. Houston)
Houston has a good defense who just watched Jacksonville put up 29 points in their home stadium. On national television Thursday, Houston will correct the perception of their defensive unit by exploiting the Bengals’ offensive line.
Houston was also a 2016 top-three D/ST versus tight ends. Eifert might do slightly better than last week’s 4-yard catch, but not much better.
START THIS GUY: Charles Clay, Buffalo (at Carolina)
Clay came through for me last week with 51 yards and a touchdown. Carolina offers much more of a challenge to the Buffalo offense, but one weakness they had last year was their second-worst NFL fantasy points allowed to tight ends.
Clay was targeted ten times against the Jets. Tyrod Taylor is not likely to miss as many of those potential connections every week.
SIT THIS GUY: Evan Engram, NY Giants
Engram was drafted to give the Giants a deep seam threat at tight end that would bust defenses. When your quarterback is already dodging defensive linemen before he can set his feet, the deep seam never gets thrown. That is the situation with the Giants right now. Engram is getting targeted on short crossing routes so far. That’s about it.
Too-obvious-to-write-about top four
Rob Gronkowski (because when Brady absolutely, positively needs a completion…), Travis Kelce (with his exciting running and catching), Jimmy Graham (big day for Seattle offense), and Greg Olsen (even the Jets’ tight ends caught passes against the Bills!).
Week 2 flash-in-the-pan prediction
George Kittle provides the only touchdown for the 49ers against Seattle on a botched third-and-goal play. Winds up as San Francisco’s leading receiver with 41 yards and a score on the day.
Hurricane Irma messed up my tight end picks as Cameron Brate and Julius Thomas wound up not playing. Vance McDonald also didn’t play, which was a shame since there was a game going on around him and I named him a starter. My third start squeezed into the top 12 (Evan Engram) with 44 yards.
My sit ‘ems were all good calls. Martellus Bennett, Jack Doyle, and Eric Ebron finished the week as TE 15, 17, and 40 respectively. This week, we’ll top that performance.
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