Time to deal Jason Witten?

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Time to deal Jason Witten?
(Photo by Ronald Martinez/Getty Images)

Has Witten's fantasy value hit the turf?

Dallas Cowboys tight end Jason Witten was taken as the top tight end in most fantasy football league drafts this year and with good reason. However, with a month of football action under our belts, Witten hasn’t lived up to the high billing—and not necessarily through any fault of his own.

In standard non-PPR scoring, Witten is the 15th ranked tight end (for those of you in PPR leagues, he’s coming in at eighth). The likes of Marcedes Lewis (Jacksonville Jaguars), Benjamin Watson (New England Patriots), Heath Miller (Pittsburgh Steelers), and Todd Heap (Baltimore Ravens) are even ahead of him, which not many would have expected a month into the game.

Witten is averaging 4.5 receptions, 53 receiving yards, and 0.25 receiving touchdowns per game so far. Through four games last year, Witten averaged 6.75 receptions, 90.8 receiving yards and 0.25 touchdowns per game. Only his touchdowns are on par with last year.

Can Romo pick up his level of play?

His best buddy, quarterback Tony Romo (averaging 247.5 yards passing, one touchdown, and one interception per game), is struggling, and the offense seems to lack a true identity. Witten is being targeted two times less per game so far, and none of the team’s receivers have been able to step up to steal consistent attention from defenses. Despite all of the drama Terrell Owens, now with the Buffalo Bills, caused, Owens forced defenses to respect the receivers.

Making matters worse, the remainder of the season finds the Cowboys facing some tough tight end matchups:

Wk Opp Avg Fan Pts Allwd Allowing per game to TEs
5
KCC
8.5
4.5 rec, 58.5 yards, 0.50 TDs
6
Bye
-
-
7
ATL
9
3.67 rec, 55 yards, 0.67 TDs
8
SEA*
6.2
5 rec, 52.3 yards, 0.25 TDs
9
PHI*
2.7
4 rec, 34.3 yards, 0 TDs
10
GB
7.8
3.5 rec, 43 yards, 0.75 TDs
11
WAS*
3.5
2.75 rec, 38.5 yards, 0 TDs
12
OAK*
4.2
3.25 rec, 50 yards, 0 TDs
13
NYG
8.5
5.5 rec, 47.5 yards, 0.75 TDs
14
SD
8.8
4 rec, 47 yards, 0.75 TDs
15
NO*
4.2
4.25 rec, 45 yards, 0 TDs
16
WAS*
3.5
2.75 rec, 38.5 yards, 0 TDs
17
PHI*
2.7
4 rec, 34.3 yards, 0 TDs

* Allowing less than league average (7.03 points) fantasy points to tight ends through four weeks

Also worth noting: The Cowboys have one of the more difficult schedules the remainder of the season in terms of fantasy quarterback points allowed by defenses, too. If Romo struggles, Witten also struggles.

The upcoming week, versus the Kansas City Chiefs, could be a make-or-break game for the Cowboys (2-2) despite it being so early in the fantasy season. This is a game in which Dallas should roll over their opponent. If they don’t, they’ll have the Bye week to prepare for a tough Atlanta Falcons squad and all fingers will be pointed at Romo.

With a healthy amount of fantasy-worthy tight ends available this year, now may be the time to look to deal Witten if you need an upgrade at other skill positions.

I’d hold him through this weekend’s game, and—provided he has a big game versus the Chiefs—you could send him to another owner and upgrade at another position of need.

Witten’s name carries a lot of value based on perception, so you may be able to get someone else to bite while his value is higher after a big game. Even if he struggles, his name alone allows you to make a case for him in trade talks.

In PPR leagues, you could take the same approach, but the need isn’t as high due to the extra value he’s obtaining through his handful of receptions each week. However, if you’re struggling and need to start making some moves, he is one you could look to put on the trade block in your fantasy league.

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