These top five fantasy football tight ends will help your lineup score big.
5- Travis Kelce, Kansas City Chiefs, $6,750
Let’s get the negative out of the way first, as according to Pro Football Focus Kelce played only 20 snaps in the season opener. That said, they credit him with running routes on 15 of those plays, and he was targeted on five of his 15 routes run. When he’s on the field, he’s a pass catching threat. That is his role with the Chiefs, and they’ll need to air it out when the Broncos put them in a big early hole. Vegas Insider has the Broncos opening as a nine point favorite, and quickly ballooning to 13 point favorites. The total in the game is 52, and even if the Broncos win by the projected spread, that still leaves roughly 20 points of projected offense for the Chiefs. Rolling with Kelce requires a bit of a leap of faith, but remember, the Colts attacked the Broncos in week one with the tight end quite frequently. Andrew Luck threw 13 targets to the tight end combo of Dwayne Allen (five) and Colby Fleener (the better Kelce comp as a pass catching tight end, had eight targets).
4- Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams, $6,850
This week’s top five fantasy football tight ends open with a pair of dice rolls, with Cook joining Kelce in my top five picks at the position. The speedy, and often maddeningly inconsistent Cook, was tied for seventh in targets at the position in week one with eight. I did some digging through the ESPN play log to see how his targets were distributed between the Rams signal callers, and he was only twice targeted by Shaun Hill, while third string quarterback Austin Davis threw his way six times. NFL.com is reporting that Hill is a longshot to play in week two, but it’s possible end of preseason signing Case Keenum could usurp the third string job from Davis for this contest. Monitor the situation, but if Davis is starting, Cook looks to be a guy he’s very comfortable airing the ball out to. Pro Football Focus only credited four of Cook’s targets as catchable, which means he caught every pass target that he had a reasonable chance of hauling in. The Bucs got torched by Derek Anderson to tight end Greg Olsen in week one, and another bad quarterback to athletic tight end combination looks good to get the better of them this week.
3- Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles, $8,550
No tight end had a better game in week one than Julius Thomas against the Colts. They had no answer for him. Ertz isn’t the same physical freak as Thomas, but he is no slouch either and is a big target that should cause fits for the Colts. Despite posting the worst Pro Football Focus coverage score for an inside linebacker playing a minimum of 25% of his team’s snaps in week one, D’Qwell Jackson actually posted a positive score (small positive) in 2013, and he graded out as the second best coverage inside linebacker in 2012. Point being, he’s not going to get beat like a drum every week, but Ertz is talented enough to get to him and the Colts. Back to Ertz, as he was only targeted four times against the Jaguars, but made the most of them by hauling in three receptions for 77 yards and a touchdown. With Vontae Davis taking away Jeremy Maclin, Nick Foles is likely to use his other options to score in a game that projects to have tons of points. In fact, no game has a higher total this week than the 53 currently posted for the Eagles/Colts game.
2- Greg Olsen, Carolina Panthers, $9,950
Olsen was previously noted for his week one output, and guess what, he looks good this week too. Cam Newton will return to starting duties this week per head coach Ron Rivera, and that’s good for the offense as a whole. Don’t worry though, Olsen will still get plenty of targets. The former Hurricane tied for the team lead in targets with Steve Smith in 2013. Olsen’s big week included hauling in all eight catchable targets of the 11 passes thrown in his direction for 83 yards and a touchdown. His matchup looks prime for the picking too. The Lions gave up five receptions, including one touchdown, for 56 yards on eight targets to Larry Donnell. Don’t worry if you don’t know who Donnell is, he was undrafted out of Grambling State and latched on with the Giants last year reeling in a whopping three passes. If Donnell can embarrass the Lions defense, imagine what a talented tight end like Olsen can do.
1- Jimmy Graham, New Orleans Saints, $13,600
If you’re ponying up for a tight end, you damn well better get the best of the bunch. Thomas and Rob Gronkowski provide less than $1,000 in savings to downgrade from Graham. No thanks. Thomas was the beneficiary of Davis playing strong coverage on Demaryius Thomas, and Wes Welker’s absence. Welker might remain absent still, but he might not. The NFLPA will vote on a new drug policy, and it remains unclear what impact that will have on previously suspended players such as Welker. Point being, Thomas will have to compete for touches this week. As for Gronkowski, Tom Brady can’t complete passes from his back. Brady was sacked four times, and Pro Football Focus credits him with being hit twice while he threw. When he was upright, he wasn’t sharp either. That leaves Graham, the crown jewel at the position. His price is comparable to the top wide receivers, but I’d much rather spend on Graham given the depth at wide receiver and mix of strong options at a variety of price points. Also, perhaps lost in the Steelers putting a diaper on and nearly giving away their game against the Browns in week one is that Ben Roethlisberger torched his division foe. He completed 23 of 34 passes (67.6%) for 365 yards (good for a staggering 10.7 yards per attempt). Big Ben utilized his receivers more often than Heath Miller, but comparing Miller to Graham is like comping a Honda Civic to a Ferrari. Oh, and Roethlisberger (while very good) isn’t Brees either. Pony up.