Why Jordan Reed Is a Must-Start Fantasy Tight End

Marcel Davis@@Mar_CelDavis24Correspondent IOctober 25, 2013

Just a rookie, Reed is already a must-start tight end in fantasy football leagues.
Just a rookie, Reed is already a must-start tight end in fantasy football leagues.

He's no Jimmy Graham or Tony Gonzalez, but like these fantasy studs, Washington Redskins tight end Jordan Reed is a must-start player in fantasy football leagues.

While Reed's season numbers of 26 catches, 298 yards and two touchdowns don't illuminate him in this light, his Week 7 performance certainly does.

Against the Chicago Bears, Reed had nine catches, 134 yards and a touchdown. Call him a one-game wonder if you want, but recognize that this one game catapulted Reed up the fantasy scoring list.

As we speak, in standard ESPN.com fantasy football leagues, Reed has the 14th-most fantasy points among tight ends.

Mind you, Reed has only played in five games. Furthermore, the Week 7 outing is his lone with more than 10 fantasy points.

With that said, you could say my faith in Reed is tied to what he'll do and not what he's done.

Just a rookie, ESPN's Ron Jaworski has compared Reed to former New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez, via ESPN.com's John Keim:

The guy will be sensational. He’s one of the guys that jumps off the tape at you. I like to use the word flash. We saw a little bit of it earlier this season but clearly against Chicago I saw a lot more of it. We were talking here, he reminded us on the field of an Aaron Hernandez. He has that kind of wide receiver movement for a big guy. This guy is going to scare the hell out of defenses.

You may or may not have faith in what Jaworski has to say—his Colin Kaepernick proclamation isn't looking too good at the moment—but history is on Reed's side as well.

For all the talk about Redskins head coach Mike Shanahan and his success using late-round running backs, his work with unsung tight ends is overlooked.

We all know what Shannon Sharpe did under Shanahan, but what about Jeb Putzier and Tony Scheffler?

In 2004 and 2005, Putzier had a combined 1,053 receiving yards and two touchdowns. Oh, and he posted those numbers despite only starting a combined nine games in those two seasons. Post-Shanahan, Putzier hasn't surpassed more than 125 yards in any season.

As for Scheffler, from 2006 to 2008, he registered 1,480 receiving yards and 12 touchdowns under Shanahan. And he only started 19 of 42 games in that time period.

Simply put, Shanahan will get his tight ends the football. In light of Fred Davis and Chris Cooley's production over the years in Washington, that fact hasn't changed.

But what do we care about history. We're all focused on the present, right?

Well, presently, there aren't many better alternatives to starting Reed.

Regardless if you're in a 10- or 12-team league, injuries have limited your starting options at tight end. Just look at some of the players currently ranked ahead of Reed.

Both Jermichael Finley and Owen Daniels are sidelined for the foreseeable future. Then there's Jared Cook and Martellus Bennett. Their respective quarterbacks, Sam Bradford and Jay Cutler, are currently out with injuries.

Voila, almost by default, Reed is now a top-10 tight end. But wait, there's more.

Not only is Reed the second receiving option on his team, he has a pretty good quarterback throwing him the football in Robert Griffin III.

Besides Charles Clay, Jordan Cameron—who's on, what, his third quarterback?—and Delanie Walker, this is a common trait among the top fantasy tight ends.

While this threesome has clearly overcome this obstacle, the production has still been sporadic. One week, they're fantasy studs, and the next week, they're on fantasy milk cartons. All of which is a result of their quarterbacks.

Seeing that Ryan Tannehill, Jason Campbell and Jake Locker are the quarterbacks for those three, I think Reed will be the more consistent performer going forward.

I don't expect Reed to challenge the likes of Vernon Davis and Julius Thomas for fantasy supremacy. But he'll be a mainstay at the top of the fantasy scoring list for tight ends.

My advice, get Reed in your starting lineup immediately. With a Week 8 matchup against the Denver Broncos, you can bet that Reed will exploit a Broncos secondary that has allowed the most passing yards in the NFL.

Ignore this advice at your leisure, but be forewarned, at the conclusion of the Washington-Denver game on Sunday, I'll have my "I told you so" moment.