These top five fantasy football tight ends will help your lineup score big.
5- Larry Donnell (NYG), $4,950 vs (HOU)
Through the first two weeks of the NFL season your leader in Pro Football Focus tight end grade, and more importantly their receiving mark, is none other than Donnell. Wait, who? The Giants starting tight end went undrafted in 2011 out of Grambling State and didnâ€™t latch on with an NFL team until the Giants signed him in 2012. He was on the Giants practice squad for the entirety of the 2012 season, and caught a whopping three passes last year despite playing in all 16 games for Big Blue. His production spike through the first two games of the year has literally come out of nowhere. However, here we are, and he leads the Giants in every major receiving category with 12 receptions on 17 targets (heâ€™s caught all 12 balls Pro Football Focus deemed catchable) for 137 yards receiving and one touchdown. At 6-foot-6 and 265 pounds, heâ€™s a mammoth red zone target for Eli Manning, so even when his unlikely production in receptions and yardage begins to dry up, heâ€™ll remain a touchdown threat. He wonâ€™t just be on the field in the red zone either, Pro Football Focus has him receiving 113 of a possible 135 snaps for the Giants. At such a cheap cost after two productive weeks he wonâ€™t be completely faded by the DFS crowd, but his relative anonymity will have some fading him based on a fear of the unknown.
4- Travis Kelce (KC), $6,750 @ (MIA)
Kelceâ€™s usage was up in week two both in the raw number of snaps played (32 snaps on Sunday compared to 19 in week one), but also from a percentage standpoint. Still, 51 snaps played of a possible 144 isnâ€™t ideal. That said, when heâ€™s on the field, the Chiefs arenâ€™t screwing around. According to Pro Football Focus the former Cincinnati Bear Cat has run a pass route on 37 of his 51 snaps. Quarterback Alex Smith has only targeted him 11 times, but Kelce has hauled in seven of eight catchable balls for a team leading 130 yards including four 20-plus yard receptions. With Jamal Charles out with an ankle injury, the Chiefs will need more than just physical freak backup running back Knile Davis to step up to fill the void. Kelce remains cheap, but his upside is quite large and his floor is moving upward too.
3- Antonio Gates (SD), $8,150 @ (BUF)
Iâ€™m as guilty as anyone of wanting to push Gates aside for Ladarius Green and his scary height, weight, and speed combination. Whoops. Gates isnâ€™t about to cede top dog rank among the Chargers tight ends, and through two weeks heâ€™s the leader in every major receiving category on the team. Per Pro Football Focus, Gates has played 94 snaps compared to Greenâ€™s 50, and the gap in pass routes run is even crazier with Gates running 67 to Greenâ€™s 18. The elder statesmen of the duo has dropped two of 15 catchable balls, but heâ€™s been targeted a whopping 17 times and managed 12 receptions for 177 yards receiving and three touchdown catches (all against the Legion of Boom and the Seahawks in week two). The Bills secondary and linebacking unit are no comparison to those boasted by the Seahawks, and the absence of Kiko Alonso further hurts the Bills. The yardage total is underwhelming, but Dolphins tight end Charles Clay managed seven receptions on eight targets for 31 yards on Sunday. The Bills were also abused by Martellus Bennett in their season opener, allowing him to tally eight receptions on 10 targets for 70 yards receiving and a touchdown catch. Gates looks like a great play this weekend, and one that wonâ€™t force gamers to break the bank to use him.
2- Jimmy Graham (NO), $13,600 vs (MIN)
Because Graham is so much better than his peers at tight end, I tend to look at his cost and compare it to the top wide receivers and determine whether Iâ€™d rather use him or the top wide outs. Once again this week, Graham would get the nod for me over the similarly priced wide receivers. The Saints stud tight end leads all tight ends in targets, receiving yards, and receptions, and heâ€™s yet to drop a pass. In other words, heâ€™s doing his usual thing. Jared Cook turned in a quality effort in the Rams season opener against the Vikings, and while they didnâ€™t give up a monster effort to Rob Gronkowski, thatâ€™s likely largely a product of the Patriots blowing them out. Graham is about as safe a bet as they come at any position, and his upside rivals that of any offensive player in the game.
1- Greg Olsen (CAR), $9,950 vs (PIT)
As good as Graham is, heâ€™s playing second fiddle to Olsen this week thanks to a large gap in cost. Olsen, working with two different quarterbacks this year, trails only Graham at the position in targets with 19 and ranks third in receptions with 14 (dropping zero balls). Olsen even rounds things out nicely by ranking fifth among tight ends in receiving yards and hauling in one touchdown reception. And remember, the first quarterback he caught passes from was Derek Anderson. Olsen was the key cog in a Cam Newton led passing attack last season, and nothing has happened in his return to taking snaps to dispel the notion heâ€™ll be the top option again this season. The two headed monster of Dennis Pitta and Owen Daniels totaled eight receptions for 58 yards receiving and a pair of touchdowns in the Thursday Night Football contest against the Steelers, and could easily match the collective production of the Ravens tight ends.