Start 'Em Sit 'Em Week 3: Breaking Down Intriguing TE Options

Timothy RappFeatured ColumnistSeptember 19, 2013

Sep 8, 2013; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns tight end Jordan Cameron (84) celebrates his 7-yard touchdown catch during the second quarter against the Miami Dolphins at FirstEnergy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports
Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

Let's get on thing out of the way—if you have Jimmy Graham, Tony Gonzalez, Jason Witten, Julius Thomas, Vernon Davis or Greg Olsen, you are starting them, no questions asked. Given his unbelievable start, you should be starting Martellus Bennett as well. And if Rob Gronkowski plays, he's a no-brainer.

But beyond that, which tight ends do you trust and which should you bench this week? Can certain guys maintain big starts, or will inconsistency catch up to them? If a tight end has had one big week and one quiet afternoon, which performance is more telling?

Excellent questions. Let's answer them. 

Note: All stats via ESPN standard-scoring leagues.

 

Jermichael Finley, Green Bay Packers

SAN FRANCISCO, CA - SEPTEMBER 08:  Tight end Jermichael Finley #88 of the Green Bay Packers carries the ball against the San Francisco 49ers at Candlestick Park on September 8, 2013 in San Francisco, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
Jeff Gross/Getty Images

Opponent: Cincinnati Bengals, allowing 6.0 fantasy points to opposing tight ends per week.

Analysis: Hey, it's a contract year. Through two games, Finley has 11 catches for 121 yards and two touchdowns. He seems to be a vital part of the Packers' offense, and he always had the physical tools to be a game-breaker. The Bengals have a tough defense, but they also need to be concerned with Randall Cobb, Jordy Nelson and James Jones, meaning Finley could exploit mismatches over the middle. 

Thoughtful Verdict: He's not as safe as one of the guys listed in the intro—and he hasn't blown up like Bennett this season—but he's the guy I would want if I didn't have a steady option at the position like Graham or Witten.

Abrupt Verdict: START

 

Jared Cook, St. Louis Rams

ST. LOUIS, MO - SEPTEMBER 8: Jared Cook #89 of the St. Louis Rams celebrates a touchdown against the Arizona Cardinals at the Edward Jones Dome on September 8, 2013 in St. Louis, Missouri.  (Photo by Michael Thomas/Getty Images)
Michael Thomas/Getty Images

Opponent: Dallas Cowboys, allowing 8.5 fantasy points to opposing tight ends per week.

Analysis: Do we believe that Cook is more the player that caught seven passes for 141 yards and two touchdowns in Week 1, or the player that had just one catch for 10 yards last week? Truth be told, it's probably smack dab in the middle. Cook has the athleticism to be a playmaker, but consistency has never exactly been his forte. 

Thoughtful Verdict: If I didn't have one of the players listed above, he's the guy I'd want. He'll prove to be one of Sam Bradford's favorite targets this year. 

Abrupt Verdict: START

 

Jordan Cameron, Cleveland Browns

CLEVELAND, OH - SEPTEMBER 8: Line backer Philip Wheeler #52 and cornerback Brent Grimes #21 of the Miami Dolphins watch as tight end Jordan Cameron #84 of the Cleveland Browns catches a touchdown reception during the first half at First Energy Stadium on
Jason Miller/Getty Images

Opponent: Minnesota Vikings, allowing 12.5 fantasy points to opposing tight ends per week.

Analysis: Can we trust the guy who will have Brian Hoyer throwing him passes? It's an excellent question. Then again, who else is Hoyer going to throw to outside of Josh Gordon, who may show some rust after missing the first two games of the season dude to suspension? Cameron has been excellent to start the season, with 14 receptions (tied first with Jimmy Graham amongst tight ends), 203 receiving yards (second behind Graham), one touchdown (tied 10th), 20 targets (second behind Graham) and 25 fantasy points in standard-scoring leagues (tied fifth). He'll get his. 

Thoughtful Verdict: Hoyer getting the start definitely bumps Cameron down the rankings, but he's still a must-start in 12-team leagues.

Abrupt Verdict: START

 

Owen Daniels, Houston Texans

Sep 15, 2013; Houston, TX, USA; Houston Texans tight end Owen Daniels (81) celebrates a third quarter touchdown against Tennessee Titans safety Bernard Pollard (31) at Reliant Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports
Matthew Emmons-USA TODAY Sports

Opponent: Baltimore Ravens, allowing 16.0 fantasy points to opposing tight ends per week.

Analysis: Everything about this matchup screams "START" for Daniels. He has 26 fantasy points on the year, fourth amongst tight ends. The Ravens have given up 32 fantasy points to tight ends already. Daniels is a proven safety valve for Schaub. But the emergence of DeAndre Hopkins makes him think Daniels could soon be the third option in this passing attack, and I expect the Texans will try to run early and often against the Ravens rather than get involved in a shootout. 

Thoughtful Verdict: Daniels is 13th on my rankings, though that presumes Rob Gronkowski starts for the New England Patriots. If Gronk is out again—and he reportedly will be, according to Michael Whitmer of The Boston Globe—Daniels can be started in 12-team leagues. Otherwise, sit him down this week if you have one of the above options.

Abrupt Verdict: START

 

Kyle Rudolph, Minnesota Vikings

Sep 15, 2013; Chicago, IL, USA; Minnesota Vikings tight end Kyle Rudolph (82) catches a pass for a touchdown over Chicago Bears strong safety Major Wright (21) during the second quarter at Soldier Field. Mandatory Credit: Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sport
Dennis Wierzbicki-USA TODAY Sports

Opponent: Cleveland Browns, allowing 3.0 fantasy points to opposing tight ends per week.

Analysis: If you've read any of my fantasy work, you know I don't like Rudolph as a fantasy option. I'm not inclined to trust players whose value is completely tied to scoring touchdowns, especially against a defense that has given up just seven receptions for 80 yards and no touchdowns to tight ends. The Browns may be a mess offensively, but they still play solid defense. 

Thoughtful Verdict: Just avoid him this week.

Abrupt Verdict: SIT

 

Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins

MIAMI GARDENS, FL - NOVEMBER 25: Receiver Charles Clay #42 of the Miami Dolphins catches a touchdown pass against the Seattle Seahawks at Sun Life Stadium on November 25, 2012 in Miami Gardens, Florida. Miami defeated Seattle 24-21.  (Photo by Marc Serota
Marc Serota/Getty Images

Opponent: Atlanta Falcons, allowing 8.0 fantasy points to opposing tight ends per week.

Analysis: With Dustin Keller done for the year, Clay has stepped into the void he left and stepped up, with 10 catches for 163 yards and a rushing score. Yes, a rushing score. But he doesn't have a great matchup against the Falcons this week, and I would like to see him continue to produce before I promote him as a starter. With Mike Wallace, Brian Hartline and Lamar Miller to keep involved, Clay should be this team's No. 4 weapon. 

Thoughtful Verdict: If you are in a 16-team league, start him. Anything else, keep him on the bench.

Abrupt Verdict: SIT

 

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