What tight end storyline is most intriguing after the opening and what is your Week 2 and beyond action plan because of it?
Phil Alexander: Some quick thoughts on each of the more obvious storylines:
- Will Dissly debut - Nothing to see here for Dissly, who split snaps down the middle with Nick Vannett. If there is one takeaway, it's to target tight ends against the Broncos. After Jared Cook's monster Week 1, which came too late for the sites to adjust pricing, expect him to be quite chalky in Week 2.
- Delanie Walker out - Jonnu Smith is the name to know. He'd be somewhat interesting with Gabbert behind center. Gabbert has always favored his tight ends and was the quarterback responsible for Ricky Seals-Jones' mini-breakout last year.
- Greg Olsen out - Ian Thomas is an intriguing prospect, but it's tough to trust a rookie tight end. Olsen's absence means more targets for Devin Funchess and Christian McCaffrey.
- Jordan Reed healthy - Keep rolling him out until he gets hurt. Top-3 weekly upside.
- Eric Ebron emerging - Ebron is the high-ceiling GPP play, Jack Doyle is the reliable PPR glue guy. There's room for both to have value with Luck still favoring shorter throws over the middle of the field.
- George Kittle's big game, which could have been even bigger - Worth noting Kittle's performance came with Marquise Goodwin sidelined most of the game, so there was a target void. Still, Kittle remains affordable, athletically gifted, and by far the 49ers best chance to fix their red zone woes. Love him against the beleaguered Lions defense in Week 2.
- Baltimore's tight end by committee - Meh.
- Evan Engram, Jimmy Graham, David Njoku, Travis Kelce off to slow starts - Out of these four, Kelce should be in line for the biggest rebound. Maybe Patrick Mahomes won't look for him as often as Alex Smith did, but with Tyreek Hill and Sammy Watkins opening up the middle of the field, he'll have his share of dominant games this season. Engram and Njoku are in a target squeeze and Graham is probably washed. I'm not rushing to roster any of those three unless the matchup/game script absolutely warrants it.
Jason Wood: There are so many tight end situations worth monitoring. Delanie Walker's season-ending injury opens the door for Jonnu Smith, who was listed as a co-starter on the official depth chart before Walker got hurt. That was in deference to Smith's long-term value with an understanding it was Walker's role until further notice. He was just served notice.
I also think Jordan Reed and Greg Olsen are important, for opposite reasons. Reed is healthy and that means more than just his own fantasy stardom. His presence unlocks that rest of the Washington offense. Without him, teams can handle the outside receivers one on one, not worry about the middle, and shut down the running game. With him, defenses have to defend every square inch of the field and it gives a veteran like Alex Smith ample opportunities to pick apart all but the best secondaries. In Olsen's case, his injury vaults Ian Thomas into a starting role, but more likely throws a wrench in the Panthers ability to score points. Olsen's absence is a downgrade for the entire Carolina offense.
James Brimacombe: I think Jordan Reed is the story that I want to follow the most out of the tight ends right now. Heading into the year I was avoiding him until I saw him on the field and healthy. Well, I only needed one week to see that he is healthy and ready to go and is a favorite of Alex Smith. Tight end is falling off a cliff right now with Greg Olsen and Delanie Walker going down in Week 1, so jumping on a guy like Reed early before another big game seems like the right move.
Justin Howe: I like the idea of Jonnu Smith, an experienced guy in the Walker mold, stepping into 80% of Walker's role. But that's not very likely, so my interest is concentrated on Baltimore's situation. Dating back to 2016 - the days of Healthy Dennis Pitta - Ravens tight ends have averaged 6.7 receptions a game. In Week 1, Flacco developed a bit of a rapport with rookie Mark Andrews, who was productive as a catch-first slot guy at Oklahoma. Andrews drew four targets in the opener, and could quickly become Flacco's most trusted face at the position.
Will Grant: There were some big injuries at tight end this week. Delanie Walker and Greg Olsen are two quality guys who will miss most, if not all of the season. But that doesn’t mean I’m going to run out and plug Jonnu Smith or Ian Thomas into my lineups yet. As I mentioned above, the Titan passing game is ‘avoid at all costs’ to me and Thomas is a rookie TE who I’ll need to see more from before I trust him in my lineups.
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