Washington Redskins tight end Fred Davis suffered a season-ending Achilles injury on Sunday. The team's leading receiver wasn't a fantasy stud per se, since the Skins rely so heavily on the running game. But in case you were counting on Davis for fantasy purposes, there are waiver-wire options available to fill in for the unfortunately injured Washington player.
Here are some of the best available tight ends likely flying under the radar in your league, but are nonetheless well worth a pickup.
Niles Paul, Washington Redskins
Why not start with one of Davis' teammates?
How about another question: how many tight ends can you name that return kickoffs?
While Paul has not been very successful as a return man, the fact that he is even back there is a testament to the unique athleticism he brings to the tight end position.
Paul was a wide receiver at the University of Nebraska, and that wasn’t meant to change when he was selected in the fifth round of the 2011 draft.
But this offseason Paul made the switch to tight end, which sparked comparisons with the legendary Shannon Sharpe, according to Redskins.com lead writer Brian Tinsman. Sharpe himself was invited to Redskins camp by Mike Shanahan, and took time in particular to mentor Paul.
Anytime you're compared to Sharpe, you're doing something right.
With the absence of Davis, Paul is at least worth a fantasy flier. His skill set and increased opportunities could provide Washington QB Robert Griffin III with an even more explosive target than Davis.
Rob Housler, Arizona Cardinals
The impact of LaRod Stephens-Howling's 100-yard game against Minnesota could provide the Cardinals with a huge offensive lift in the coming weeks. Also prominently involved was Housler, who has taken over the No. 1 tight end spot in place of injured veteran Todd Heap, and may not give it up.
In seven targets, Housler snagged five passes for 54 yards this past Sunday. He has caught 15 of his 22 targets in 2012, which is pretty efficient in comparison to his teammates.
While there are plenty of other weapons on the outside for Arizona, Housler has all the tools to be a productive fantasy tight end, and is the team's third leading receiver.
QB John Skelton has a stronger arm than injured starter Kevin Kolb, and tends to take more shots down the seam. Housler will not have to stay in and block as frequently if Stephens-Howling can build on his strong Week 7 performance.
It seems like the Cardinals' season is going off the rails a little bit, too, which could lend to playing from behind frequently. That means more passes and more targets for Housler, who could emerge as Skelton's security blanket in the face of such poor pass protection.
Anthony Fasano, Miami Dolphins
Here is a player with tangible previous success on a team that has scant resources at wide receiver.
Last season, Fasano had five touchdowns and averaged 14 yards per catch on just 32 catches. With 22 catches already in 2012, it's clear rookie QB Ryan Tannehill is comfortable looking to his big tight end target.
Facing a tough St. Louis Rams pass defense, Fasano managed four catches for 33 yards and a touchdown ahead of the Dolphins' bye week.
He and Tannehill will only grow more comfortable as the season wears on, and with the No. 8 overall pick trying to limit mistakes, Fasano will become more of an attractive pass-catcher because of the mismatches he can create on linebackers.
Fasano is worth a look as a Week 8 spot start in a crucial AFC East matchup on the road with the New York Jets. The tight end snagged five passes for 45 yards the last time these two teams met, but was targeted a team-high 10 times.
Continually improving chemistry with his quarterback will allow Fasano's production to increase. The Jets may be gearing their game plan more toward him, but Brian Hartline has drawn a lot of attention after his 253-yard game in the overtime loss to Arizona.
Hartline will likely take top priority in the Jets' coverage schemes, making Fasano a great pickup particularly this week if you're strapped at tight end.
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