Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 8 tight ends

Veteran tight ends are trying to take back the leaderboard, but Jordan Reed and Zach Ertz couldn’t catch rookie OJ Howard this week. So, should we sit ‘em?

The tight end leaderboard looked relatively normal compared to previous weeks, with names like Jordan Reed, Zach Ertz, Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten, and Travis Kelce among the top seven. But it was rookie OJ Howard’s 98 yards and two touchdowns that set the pace for Week 7. Giants rookie Evan Engram squeezed into the TE-4 position and Jared Cook was the only 100-yard receiver, finishing as the TE-8.

So why are none of them among my Week 8 start ‘ems? Because these guys are: 

Start this guy: Kyle Rudolph, MIN vs CLE 

Cleveland is one of the two teams that allow a tight end to score a touchdown every game this season. Their defense covers wide receivers well, but tight ends can break free. Pencil Rudolph in for a big day regardless of who is quarterbacking the Vikings Sunday. He might even score twice for good measure.

Sit this guy: Jack Doyle, IND at CIN 

Considering how much the Bengals offense uses their own tight end, their defense is downright inhospitable to opponent’s tight ends. They yield an average of 5.0 points per game to the position group. That doesn’t bode well for Jack Doyle. Throw in a young quarterback operating behind a damaged offensive line and it could be a long day for the Colts’ tight ends. 

Start this day: Tyler Kroft, CIN vs IND 

On the other side of the field, Andy Dalton has had some big games throwing to tight ends named Tyler. There is no reason for that to stop against the Colts. They only give up about nine points per game, but that is the seventh-worst in the league. Kroft should be able to crack the top ten in Week 8.

Sit this guy: Austin Seferian-Jenkins, NYJ vs ATL

Atlanta’s defense is the fifth best NFL fantasy defense against tight ends. They also don’t want to get swept by the four AFC East teams, and the Jets are the only team left after losses to the Bills, Dolphins, and Patriots. Austin Seferian-Jenkins might get enough dump passes to salvage a PPR score, but he won’t get enough yards or a score to make him worth a standard league play. 

Start this guy: Darren Fells, DET vs PIT 

Pittsburgh has a top-ten fantasy defense against tight ends, but Darren Fells is turning into a scoring machine. He has three touchdowns in the last two games. He missed a fourth by a yard as the half ended in Detroit’s last game. After years as a blocking tight end in Arizona, Fells has shown he has soft hands. The fact they are on the end of a 6’7” 270-pound target makes Fells irresistible to Matt Stafford. Watch for another touchdown in a big spot as Fells emerges as Detroit’s primary red zone target the rest of the season.

Sit this guy: George Kittle, SF vs PHI 

Philadelphia plays tight ends very well, yielding only 6.5 points per game to the position. It does not seem like a good bet that George Kittle will bounce back from the tough game against Dallas last week even if his new quarterback is an old college teammate.

Week 8 flash in the pan prediction

With Maxx Williams out and Benjamin Watson hobbled, it is the newly signed Gavin Escobar who lines up on a goal-to-goal situation and snags a touchdown on his third day as a Raven. For good measure, he catches another pass for 20 yards, giving him a TE-12 total of 8.3 NFL fantasy points. 

Jordan Reed, Zach Ertz, Jimmy Graham, Jason Witten, and Travis Kelce are, of course, start ‘ems, although a few of them face stiff defenses this week.

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