Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 3 tight ends

Some players seem primed for a great week… and some not so much. Check and see if your tight end should start or sit.

Four tight ends scored more than 20 NFL fantasy points last week. Here are few that might do it this week, plus a few we are pretty sure won’t. 

Start This Guy: Jack Doyle, Indianapolis (vs Cleveland)

Jacoby Brissett looked for his tight end eight times last week. Jack Doyle caught them all, tallying a team-leading 79 yards. Brissett will start at least another week and this week Doyle will be working against the Cleveland Browns defense. The Browns lead the league in fantasy points allowed to tight ends last season and have picked up right where they left off so far in 2017. 

Sit This Guy: Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati (at Green Bay)

This is as much because of Eifert’s aches and pains as it is about Green Bay’s defense. The Packers have only given up 1.3 fantasy points to tight ends in the first two games. Eifert has only four catches in his first two games and just doesn’t look like he is moving well. Ankle and back injuries have knocked him out of each game for short periods and appear to be taking a toll. 

Start This Guy: Jared Cook, Oakland (at Washington)

Derek Carr is distributing the ball well for the Raiders, including to his tight ends. Jared Cook saw six targets last week, tied for a team-high with Michael Crabtree. Washington continues to give up more points to tight ends than most defense. It seems like a match.

Sit This Guy: Jimmy Graham, Seattle (at Tennessee)

Teammates say they still have faith in Jimmy Graham, but I do not. At least not against a tough Tennessee Titans defense on a bad ankle. Graham got hurt early in the game against San Francisco this week, although he continued to play. Quarterback Russell Wilson targeted him once after the injury but did have time to wait for any deep routes to open. That will continue, leaving the hobbled Graham lacking for opportunity for at least one more week. 

Start This Guy: Jesse James, Pittsburgh (at Chicago) 

This is my gut call. While it is true that James has been seeing some targets and Chicago is among the worst tight end defenders in the league, the risk is that Ben Roethlisberger will have so many options, he will forget his tight end. But this game is on the road. Ben tends to be more conservative as indicated by his serious road/home rating differential. He will hit James for a score this week against the Bears. 

Sit This Guy: Evan Engram, New York Giants (at Philadelphia)

Here’s another gut call going the other way. Engram will be listed as a must start based on this week’s 49 yards and a touchdown. It took a nice little pirouette to catch the touchdown, even though he was wide open. Which is one reason I will not recommend starting Engram even against a Philadelphia defense that gave up 16 points to Travis Kelce last week. The Eagles will make Eli Manning feel like a pinball all day. Engram’s targets will go down and without a touchdown, he is not worth a play. 

Too obvious to discuss top five

Rob Gronkowski’s groin issue is supposed to be a minor injury. If he plays, he starts in all fantasy leagues against the Texans. Jason Witten is usually inconsistent, but in a Monday Night Football game, he will continue his league-leading play. Drew Brees needs to get rid of the ball fast, giving Coby Fleener a shot at three touchdowns in three games. 

Travis Kelce and Delanie Walker have tougher matchups but are must-starts on ability alone. You can also start Hunter Henry comfortably. Now that Antonio Gates has the all-time touchdowns by a tight end record and 900 catches, Henry will be the primary tight end for the Chargers. 

Week 3 flash-in-the-pan prediction 

Richard Rodgers helps cover for Green Bay’s depleted wide receiver ranks and catches all seven targets for a touchdown and 96 yards against the Cincinnati Bengals. 

Full disclosure about Week 2

Four of my six recommendations proved accurate. I missed with starting Charles Clay (two fantasy points) and sitting Evan Engram (10.9). My flash in the pan was injured and did not play. 

Check back next week to see how I did in Week 3 and don’t forget to send any NFL fantasy questions you have to: [email protected]. We’ll answer everything we can each Wednesday in our Mailbag post.

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Pat Opperman


Pat recently retired from real life to watch sports and write. Look for references to games and events from ancient times as memories of an earlier Age of Sport tend to pop into his head.