BJ VanderWoude: Week two was not kind to the top tight ends, as Rob Gronkowski, Greg Olsen, and Jimmy Graham all left the game due to injuries. Excluding Travis Kelce and Jordan Reed, pick two tight end options for week three that you will have exposure to in GPP's.
Jared Cook now has three games under his belt with Derek Carr and he has 11 targets for 9 receptions and 81 yards. With the Oakland and Washington set to be in a back and forth type of game it is hard to ignore Cook’s opportunities, especially in the red zone. Washington is the 8th worst team against the tight end position to start the season as they have given up 8/93/0 to Zach Ertz and 3/95/0 to Gerald Everett to start the season.
Jack Doyle has an even better matchup against the Browns who are 2nd worst in the league against the tight end position allowing Ben Watson to post an 8/91/0 line and Jesse James a 6/41/2 line the week before. With the Colts playing a desperate game on offense while Andrew Luck is sidelined, we have seen that Jacoby Brissett has zeroed in on Doyle targeting him 8 times for 8 catches and 79 yards last week against the Cardinals.
Justin Howe: Zach Ertz (Week 1) and Coby Fleener (Week 2) have been the salary saviors of the early season, but I don't see quite the same mispriced mega-value for Week 3. I do, however, like the value in Jack Doyle, who quickly caught Jacoby Brissett's eye last week and was his usual ultra-reliable self. Doyle finished second on the Colts in targets and caught all eight of them, serving as Brissett's security blanket and only productive weapon; he's essentially the only Colt whose fantasy value doesn't dip noticeably in the absence of Andrew Luck. He isn't a special athlete, and he certainly doesn't create much after the catch. But PPR formats love Doyle, who boasts an insane 80.6% career catch rate. Considering that game flow will likely keep the Colts passing heavily in perpetuity, Doyle's week-to-week outlook is bright.
On the next-to-zero-ownership wavelength, I'll nominate Cameron Brate. I'll probably always beat the Brate drum - he's an accomplished touchdown threat (11 touchdowns across 19 career games) who has a relatively strong rapport with Jameis Winston. I'm not reading too much into his Week 1 snap count. O.J. Howard played extensively over Brate down the stretch, but I figure the blowout nature of the game had a lot to do with that - the team probably relished the chance to evaluate Howard in live game action. It's early in his career, of course, but I see Howard as more of a blocker than a productive receiver in the long term, so I don't see him cutting too much into Brate's immediate opportunity. Brate isn't a confident play, but he's a threat to find the end zone cheaply and low-owned in any given week.
John Mamula: With all of the injuries in Week 2, the tight end position is getting very interesting for DFS. If Rob Gronkowski, Jordan Reed, Tyler Eifert, and/or Jimmy Graham join Greg Olsen on the inactive list, we may see some massive overlap at the tight end position. Many will flock to Travis Kelce after his impressive 8 reception for 103 yards and 1 touchdown game versus the Eagles last week. Make sure to check Footballguys staff writer Steve Buzzard's GPP ownership projections as the injuries start to become more clear later in the week.
While Zach Ertz price has risen across the DFS industry, he still projects to be one of the most consistent options moving forward. Through the first two weeks, Ertz has 18 targets (10 last week versus the Chiefs, and 8 Week 1 at the Redskins). Clearly, the departure of Jordan Matthews has helped push Ertz to the forefront of the Eagles passing game. This week he matches up against the Giants defense who allowed 5 receptions for 42 yards and 1 touchdown to Eric Ebron on Monday Night Football.
Another option is to punt the tight end position and pay up at other positions. Ed Dickson projects to be a fine option is you are employing this strategy. Dickson will replace Greg Olsen as the Panthers tight end and is near minimum price across the DFS industry. Another plus is that he will be matched up versus the worst defense in the NFL, the New Orleans Saints, who have allowed touchdowns to Rob Gronkowski and Kyle Rudolph, over the first two weeks.
Justin Bonnema: Only 10 players in the league have more targets than Zach Ertz’s 18. I’d like to see him used in the red zone a little more but you can’t ignore the volume. He’ll be heavily owned with the top guys banged up, so that’s the downside. The upside is he gets a Giants’ defense that’s allowed touchdowns to tight ends in back-to-back weeks and will have their hands full covering the Eagles’ wide receivers. Sign me up for another week of Ertz.
I also agree that both Jared Cook and Jack Doyle are in play this week purely based on matchups. Doyle gets the Browns who are bad at everything defensively and have allowed the most points to tight ends. Cook plays for a highly functional offense that spreads the ball around quite a bit, but the game against Washington has the highest over/under of the weekend and no defense has given up more yards to tight ends. He’s third in team targets and trails Michael Crabtree by two on the season. Week 3 will teach us a lot about his future in this offenses.
Phil Alexander: I’m with James and the guys on Jack Doyle. Cleveland allowed the most fantasy points to opposing tight ends in 2016 and they’re on pace to do so for a second consecutive year. The early returns on the chemistry between Doyle and new Colts starting quarterback Jacoby Brissett were positive in Week 2, with Doyle catching all eight of his targets. Look for Brissett to once again rely on Doyle to move the chains in a game Indianapolis has an actual chance to win.
Outside of Doyle, things get dicey at tight end quickly but I’ll endorse John’s choice of Zach Ertz. The Giants are another team with a recent history of defending tight ends poorly dating back to last season, and like the Browns, they’re off to another poor start. In addition to letting up the touchdown to Ebron last week, New York allowed a 7-59-1 receiving line to Jason Witten back in Week 1. Ertz trails only Witten in tight end targets through two games, which puts him in line to 3x his salary via catches and yards alone. If the Giants let up a tight end touchdown for the third consecutive week, consider it gravy.
Chris Feery: As the guys have already mentioned, Zach Ertz is a top option on a weekly basis if his targets continue on this pace. I’ll definitely be looking in his direction for GPP purposes as he faces off against a struggling Giants team. I can definitely get on board with the selections of Jack Doyle and Jared Cook as well, but I’d like to add another name to the list.
After putting up a bagel in Week 1, Hunter Henry demonstrated that he will, in fact, be a big part of the Chargers offense with his performance last week against the Dolphins. He hauled in all seven of his targets for 80 yards, and he’ll be facing off against a Chiefs defense that just allowed Ertz to have a big day. Henry will be finding his way onto some of my GPP lineups, and he should continue to fly under the radar at a low ownership percentage until he puts up another solid game.
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