Start ‘Em, Sit ‘Em: Week 9 tight ends

Jack Doyle finally had the big day rumored about in sleeper discussions all season. Does that mean we’ll start him in Week 9?

One of my NFL fantasy-playing friends tells me how each week, he looks at the 11-20th ranked tight ends from the previous game and throws a dart at the list to decide who to stream. He reasons there are only about five reliable tight ends in the league and three more who earned the right to start every week based on reputation. He owns none of those guys. His system has mixed results, but he is only one point off the NFL fantasy average for tight ends. Not far enough off for him to spend a lot of time thinking about a position that only gives him 4-5 points. 

You don’t have to think about it either. Here are good decisions on who to start and sit in Week 9, if you don’t have Zach Ertz, Travis Kelce, Cameron Brate, Kyle Rudolph, or Rob Gronkowski: 

Start this guy: Tyler Higbee, LAR at NYG 

It’s like science. H + H and O make water. The sky is blue because. Tight ends score touchdowns against the Giants. There is no questioning the logic or theory. It is set in stone. Even in the Giants lone victory, when they held AJ Derby and Virgil Green without a touchdown all game, third-string tight end Jeff Heuerman snuck behind the Giants’ defense with four minutes to go and kept the streak alive. 

Tyler Higbee will play an important role in the Rams’ offense as the Giants’ secondary does well against opponents’ wide receivers. Look for him to have 4-5 catches and the 9th touchdown scored by a tight end in eight games against New York. 

Sit this guy: Eric Ebron, DET at GB

Matt Stafford hit Eric Ebron with two important passes late in their loss to Pittsburgh last week, but don’t get excited and think Ebron is back in the good graces of his quarterback. Ebron’s “I don’t care if I am traded” tirade yesterday is unlikely to win him any favors in the locker room.

If Ebron gets the Martavis Bryant treatment on Sunday, substitute Darren Fells’ name in this slot because the main issue is whether Stafford will throw to his tight ends much in this game. Green Bay is the top-ranked NFL fantasy defense against tight ends this season, giving up just 3.1 points on an average Sunday. Whether that is because they play the tight ends well or more because their opponents’ wide receivers are so open the quarterback doesn’t need his tight ends is uncertain. But 3.1 is 3.1. Sit Detroit tight ends this week.

Start this guy: Nick O’Leary, BUF at NYJ

Buffalo plays on Thursday Night in New York. There will not be many twists added to the Bills’ game plan in a short week. Their basic offense goes through LeSean McCoy and the tight end. O’Leary is running the same routes that had Charles Clay a weekly must-play before his injury. Throw in the Jets’ bottom-ten defense against tight ends, and you have Nick O’Leary scoring real points for the Bills and NFL fantasy points for us.

Sit this guy: Tyler Kroft, CIN at JAC 

Tight ends are a safer play than wide receivers against the mighty Jacksonville pass defense, but they still aren’t a very safe play. The rookie Kroft will be chipped, pushed, and trapped all over the field Sunday by defenders on their way to Andy Dalton. Avoid the Bengals offense this week.

Start this guy: Jack Doyle, IND vs HOU

Jack Doyle makes an appearance as a start ‘em not so much because of his 14-target, 12-catch, 121-yard day with a touchdown against the Bengals last week, but more because of this week’s matchup against the Texans. Quarterback Jacoby Brissett has limited options in the passing game and he will have to make the most of them against the powerful Texans offense. 

Did I just write, “powerful Texans offense”? What a difference a quarterback makes, eh? Brissett will do his best Deshaun Watson imitation, with TY Hilton, Marlon Mack and Doyle his main targets. Don’t expect another 18-point performance from Doyle as his catch percentage should return to the 50-60% range this week. But that will be good enough for ten or more points from the tight end position.

Sit this guy: Austin Hooper, ATL vs CAR

Hooper will be a popular waiver wire add and streamer this week based on last week’s top-ten performance. But just like his 18-points in Week 1, Sunday’s performance against the Jets is not the new weekly norm in Atlanta. Driving rain and wind limited deep options and bumped Hooper up in the pecking order. It could be another seven weeks before he sees another touchdown. 

Week 9 flash in the pan prediction

The New York Giants line Evan Engram up as a wide receiver most of the game and put crowd favorite Matt LaCosse at the end of the line for half the game, from where he catches five passes for 80 yards and a touchdown against the Los Angeles Rams in New York’s upset victory. 

About last week: 2 out of 3 ain’t bad? 

Detroit’s Darren Fells could not come up with any of his three end zone targets Sunday night, putting the kibosh on a fifth correct guess in last week’s start ‘em and sit ‘em. Sitting Jack Doyle proved to be a mistake, too. But my other four predictions came true, so I’m ahead of average! 

If you have an NFL fantasy question, why don’t you send it to me at [email protected] so I can answer it in Wednesday’s NFL Fantasy Mailbag? It’s good advice!

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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.