Talk about a difficult week to find a tight end. Among the players on bye are Rob Gronkowski (as well as teammate Martellus Bennett), Jordan Reed and Tyler Eifert. Those likely are some of the better names on a weekly basis, so what does that leave us? Let’s take a look:
Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers – at Los Angeles
Delanie Walker – Tennessee Titans – at San Diego
Travis Kelce – Kansas City Chiefs – vs. Jacksonville
Gary Barnidge – Cleveland Browns – vs. Dallas
Antonio Gates – San Diego Chargers – vs. Tennessee
Jack Doyle – Indianapolis Colts – at Green Bay
Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings – vs. Detroit
Coby Fleener – New Orleans Saints – at San Francisco
Jimmy Graham – Seattle Seahawks – vs. Buffalo
Dennis Pitta – Baltimore Ravens – vs. Pittsburgh
Eric Ebron – Detroit Lions – at Minnesota
Cameron Brate – Tampa Bay Buccaneers – vs. Atlanta
Julius Thomas – Jacksonville Jaguars – at Kansas City
Hunter Henry – San Diego Chargers – vs. Tennessee
Zach Ertz – Philadelphia Eagles – at New York Giants
Jason Witten – Dallas Cowboys – at Cleveland
Austin Hooper – Atlanta Falcons – at Tampa Bay
Richard Rodgers – Green Bay Packers – vs. Indianapolis
Lance Kendricks – Los Angeles Rams – vs. Carolina
Charles Clay – Buffalo Bills – at Seattle
Maybe Hunter Henry was limited a bit, but over the past two weeks Antonio Gates has been targeted 19 times (9 receptions, 71 yards, 1 TD). That’s enough opportunity, when coupled with a matchup against a team that has allowed 23 receptions to opposing TE over the past two weeks, to make him a viable option.
After a few low usage games (3 targets in back-to-back weeks), Kelce was back to being a focal point in Week 8 as he turned 10 targets into 7 receptions, 101 yards and 1 TD. That’s more than enough to make us consider him among the better options in the league.
The Vikings offense needs some significant changes, and maybe this is the week they turn to Kyle Rudolph and turn him into a focal point. It would make sense, with the Lions having allowed 17 receptions, 184 yards and 1 TD to opposing tight ends over the past two weeks. He has been too inconsistent to consider him among the best options, but he’s definitely worth the gamble as a TE1.
Dennis Pitta has been targeted 10 times in each of the past two weeks (and 8+ in three straight games). While he hasn’t necessarily turned those chances into production (10 receptions for 76 yards over the past two weeks), opportunity is half the battle. With a favorable matchup he’s impossible to ignore.
It was a great return for Eric Ebron, turning 10 targets into 7 receptions and 79 yards. Look for him to continue as one of the focal points of the offense, against a Minnesota defense that hasn’t allowed a TD to opposing TE but has yielded 419 yards.
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