This isn’t the easiest week to maneuver through, with the top options having some of the more difficult matchups for tight ends. Of course they are the top options for a reason, and they simply aren’t players who we would avoid. The question comes as to who we trust after them, with six teams on bye weeks. Let’s take a look:
Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers – vs. Arizona
Rob Gronkowski – New England Patriots – at Buffalo
Jimmy Graham – Seattle Seahawks – at New Orleans
Delanie Walker – Tennessee Titans – vs. Jacksonville
Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings – at Chicago
Jack Doyle – Indianapolis Colts – vs. Kansas City
Gary Barnidge – Cleveland Browns – vs. New York Jets
Tyler Eifert – Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Washington
Coby Fleener – New Orleans Saints – vs. Seattle
Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs – at Indianapolis
Vernon Davis – Washington Redskins – at Cincinnati
Cameron Brate – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Oakland
Julius Thomas – Jacksonville Jaguars – at Tennessee
Martellus Bennett – New England Patriots – at Buffalo
C.J. Fiedorowicz – Houston Texans – vs. Detroit
Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles – at Dallas
Zach Miller – Chicago Bears – vs. Minnesota
Hunter Henry – San Diego Chargers – at Denver
Antonio Gates – San Diego Chargers – at Denver
Jason Witten – Dallas Cowboys – vs. Philadelphia
While Cameron Brate may not be a blow away option, there’s a chance he operates as #2 on the target priority against a weak Raiders’ passing defense (behind Mike Evans). That puts him on the TE1 spectrum, though it’s a risk that he gets enough opportunities to produce (only 3 targets in each of the past two weeks).
Jordan Reed, who has been out for the past two weeks with a concussion, still ranks fourth among tight ends with 46 targets. Considering the favorable matchup, that should mean ample opportunities for Vernon Davis (who has 8 receptions for 129 yards and 1 TD over the past two weeks). He’s risky, but a viable TE1.
Tyler Eifert was used sparingly in Week 7, his first game of the season. His role should increase significantly this week, and that means as much upside as anyone. It all depends on your alternatives, but consider him a viable starting option.
We saw what Jack Doyle could do while being utilized as the top tight end in Week 7, turning 10 targets into 9 receptions, 78 yards and 1 TD against the Titans. With the Colts’ receiving corps banged up and underachieving, there’s a good chance that he continues to see ample opportunities in Week 8. That makes him one of the better options.
It has been limited opportunities for Zach Ertz, with just 3 targets in each of the past three games (since missing most of September). However a matchup with the Cowboys, who have allowed the fifth most points to opposing tight ends per week, should help to unlock his potential. It’s a bit of a leap of faith, but considering the alternatives he’s a good gamble.
Hunter Henry is in the concussion protocol and also ceded targets to Antonio Gates (10 targets) in Week 7. While the upside remains, the potential timeshare pushes both players into TE2 status (assuming they are healthy).