In case you haven’t noticed, it’s the year of the tight end in the National Football League. That’s fine and dandy if you own studs like Jimmy Graham, Jermichael Finley or Jason Witten on your fantasy football team. But what if you don’t?
Well, don’t fret, because I have a few hot tight ends that you may be able to pick up on the waiver wire or steal from your friends in a minor trade. Conversely, I also list some tight ends who are nothing but bad news for your team.
So which fantasy tight ends are hot and not in Week 10? Let’s find out.
The New England Patriots have stalled on offense. After averaging 30 points through the first five games, they’ve only mustered an average of 20 through their past three.
A big reason for this is because, outside of Wes Welker, New England’s wide receivers have struggled with opposing man-to-man defenses. This has caused Tom Brady to lean more on the tight end duo of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski.
The duo hasn’t let him down. Both caught a touchdown this past weekend against the New York Giants, and Hernandez in particular has hauled in a touchdown in each of the past three games. With the Jets expected to give New England’s wide receivers more fits, look for Hernandez and Gronkowski to continue their solid play.
After a hot start to the season, wide receiver David Nelson has cooled considerably. And Donald Jones is still not fully recovered from his ankle injury. That has left the trio of Stevie Johnson, Fred Jackson and Scott Chandler for quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to be lean on in the passing game.
Now, it appears that teams are making a conscious effort to not let Jackson beat them—especially in the red zone. The Jets made him the focal point of their defensive game plan to great results.
Expect Rob Ryan to follow his brother Rex’s philosophy this week. With that said, Chandler should have a few opportunities in the red zone against Dallas. He hauled in two touchdowns two weeks ago against Washington and is owned in only 28 percent of ESPN leagues. Chandler could be a quick tight end fix if you need one this week.
For whatever reason, Celek was MIA from Philadelphia’s offense early on in the season. Now it appears that he has worked his way back into Michael Vick’s good graces.
In the past two games, Celek has snagged 14 passes and one touchdown. Celek’s play is clearly trending upward and the best part is he’s only owned in 15 percent of ESPN leagues.
So if you originally drafted and then cut him a short time later (like I did), see if you can get reunited with him via the waiver wire. With Celek and the Eagles facing an inconsistent Arizona Cardinals defense this week, you won’t be disappointed.
Ballard made quite the name for himself when he caught the game-winning touchdown in the New York Giants’ comeback win over the Patriots this past weekend. In that game, Ballard averaged 14 points in ESPN leagues, pretty impressive for someone who was supposed to be nothing more than a blocking tight end for Big Blue.
Use caution if you’re going to pick up Ballard this week. If Hakeem Nicks and Ahmad Bradshaw return to action, then Ballard may drop to the end of the line in terms of pass targets. Then again, Eli Manning does like his tight ends (see: Boss, Kevin) and given how Ballard played in New England, he may have earned some more attention from Eli.
The reason why I place Daniels on this list is because of Andre Johnson. The star wide receiver for the Houston Texans may or may not return this week from his hamstring injury.
In Johnson’s absence, No. 2 wide receiver Jacoby Jones has definitely not stepped his game up (a combined seven catches the past three outings). Even if Johnson does return against the Bucs, look for quarterback Matt Schaub to continue relying on the unconventional duo of Daniels and Arian Foster in the passing game.
It will probably take Johnson a game or two to fully recover from his bum hammy. Meanwhile, Daniels is projected for 63 yards and a touchdown against Tampa Bay.
The free fall for the New York Jets’ Dustin Keller continues. Although he was projected to have a big 2011 season, Keller has done virtually nothing.
He only has two touchdown catches and is averaging a meager eight points (in ESPN leagues) each week. Of course, Mark Sanchez’s developing chemistry with wide receiver Plaxico Burress isn’t helping the cause.
Burress’s emergence as a red-zone target has diminished Keller’s value in an area where he previously thrived. To top it all off, Keller suffered a bad head injury against the Bills.
Although he’s expected to play this weekend against the Patriots, head injuries are nothing to fool around with. Injury or not, stay away from Keller.
You know who misses David Garrard the most in Jacksonville? Hands down, it has to be Marcedes Lewis. The Jaguars tight end caught 10 touchdowns with Garrard under center in 2010.
This year, with the awful Blaine Gabbert leading the way, Lewis hasn’t caught one. Unlike fellow rookies Andy Dalton and Cam Newton, Gabbert is struggling through the growing pains of being an NFL quarterback.
As a result, Lewis’s game has suffered dearly. Until Gabbert does anything for Jacksonville’s offense, drop Lewis like he’s hot (which, ironically, he’s not).
One tight end duo that hasn’t done much lately is Baltimore’s Ed Dickson and Dennis Pitta. The reason for their struggles is two-fold.
First, you never know what you’re going to get out of Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco. One week, he’s lighting it up (like opening day against Pittsburgh). Another week, he’s laying an absolute dud (like in the Monday night massacre against Jacksonville).
Second, when he’s on his game, it’s clear that Flacco wants to attack defenses with a vertical passing game. That’s great news if you own wide receivers Anquan Boldin or Torrey Smith. That’s bad news if you own Dickson or Pitta.
The Colt McCoy novelty is starting to wear off in Cleveland, which is bad news for tight end Benjamin Watson.
After catching 16 passes and two touchdowns in his first four games, Watson has only hauled in nine receptions for no touchdowns his last four. As McCoy has regressed, so has Watson’s output. McCoy is now 5-11 as a starter in his NFL career.
While I would be encouraged that Watson is going against a questionable Rams defense this week, I have little faith that McCoy will suddenly break out of his recent slump. Until he does, sit Watson.
I know it’s surprising that someone who caught two touchdowns his last game would be considered avoidable. The problem for Dolphins tight end Anthony Fasano is that Reggie Bush and Brandon Marshall are starting to heat up. Therefore, Fasano may be the odd man out in Miami’s offense.
Marshall erupted for eight catches, 106 yards and a touchdown against Kansas City. Bush had 50 yards receiving against the Chiefs and has racked up 34 fantasy points the past two weeks.
I’m not ready to say Fasano will fall off the face of the earth. I am saying that it may be wise to stay away from him, only until Bush and Marshall cool off.