New England Patriots star tight end Aaron Hernandez left Sunday's upset loss to the Arizona Cardinals after sustaining what looked to be a painful ankle injury.
The injury is believed to be nothing more than a sprain, however, according to NFL Network reporter Albert Breer (via Twitter):
Patriots TE Aaron Hernandez's injury is believed to be a high ankle sprain.— Albert Breer (@AlbertBreer) September 16, 2012
Still, Hernandez could miss a significant amount of time as he recovers, according to NBC Sports' Pro Football Talk (via Twitter):
Source with knowledge says Pats tight end Aaron Hernandez could miss up to six weeks with ankle injury.— ProFootballTalk (@ProFootballTalk) September 16, 2012
With Hernandez set to miss the next few games for the Patriots and countless fantasy football owners, let's take a look at the top tight ends out there who can replace the Patriots star this fall.
Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens
Arguably Joe Flacco's favorite target in the passing game, Baltimore Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta already has 13 receptions through the season's first two weeks. He even found the end zone in Baltimore' season-opening win over the Cincinnati Bengals.
Pitta is averaging 69 yards per game, which makes him a pretty dependable play at tight end. Some experts are nervous about how consistent he can be, but that shouldn't be a fear for fantasy owners considering how much trust Flacco has in him as a safety valve.
If you're in a PPR league, Pitta will be an especially vital addition to your roster.
Martellus Bennett, New York Giants
Perhaps all Martellus Bennett needed was to get out of Jason Witten's shadow in Dallas. Since joining the New York Giants this season, Bennett has produced huge fantasy numbers. He has nine catches and 112 yards through two games, but he is averaging a touchdown every week.
If Bennett can be the primary red-zone target for Eli Manning this season, fantasy owners will need to move quickly on the big pass-catcher in order to replace the production lost by Hernandez. Bennett has the speed and athleticism to present a matchup nightmare for any defender.
Scott Chandler, Buffalo Bills
Buffalo's Scott Chandler has turned into a big-play tight end this September, catching six balls in two games for 91 yards and two touchdowns. Chandler's surprising play as of late has caught the eye of many fantasy owners, who are scrambling to add him now that Hernandez is down.
The under-the-radar veteran is on pace to surpass his 2011 numbers and fantasy owners are taking notice. At 6'7" and 260 pounds, Chandler promises to remain a consistent threat down the field and a reliable red-zone target for the Bills.
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