Tight end is an increasingly important part of fantasy teams, but its proven unpredictable the last several weeks with even reliable options near the top of this list having their ups and downs due to injury, quarterback issues, and defenses focusing on them.
With six teams on a bye this week, the pickings become even more bare than normal, so it’s important to make sure you have your best option in place. Here are the top ten tight ends to start this week based on a composite ranking of myself and Pewter Plank editor, Leo Howell. Here’s who we think should be your starters this week if your in a standard 10-team league.
If you don’t have one of these options available or have a roster specific question, send it to me on twitter @ZT_Sports or drop in tin the comments at the bottom of the page, and I’ll do the best I can to give you my opinion on your specific situation.
Here’s our top ten for this week:
1. Jimmy Graham-New Orleans Saints
Graham will have to battle through pain from his sore foot the rest of the season most likely, but he still gets our top spot this week as he and the Saints travel north to take on the Jets. He caught all three passes thrown his way on Sunday and finished with 37 yards and two touchdowns. He only played limited snaps, but still is an elite option against New York who has given up four tight end touchdowns in their last six games.
2. Rob Gronkowski-New England Patriots
Gronk and the Patriots passing game face a tough task as they take on the visiting Steelers. Pittsburgh allows the second fewest points per game to opposing tight ends, and the Patriots passing attack has struggled due in part to Tom Brady’s injury. Gronk is still a TE1 and has the potential to go off, but I don’t think he’s the best option this week based on matchup and current form.
3. Jason Witten-Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys passing game has been doing just fine, but Witten’s role continues to decrease. He hasn’t found the end zone in three weeks and has under 100 yards total over that timespan. Last week, he was only targeted twice against Detroit, but he has been much better at home where he plays this week against a beatable Vikings defense.
4. Jordan Reed-Washington Redskins
One of the emerging talents at tight end is Jordan Reed who has become a big part of Robert Griffin III’s passing attack for the Skins. Reed was targeted 14 times last week despite missing some plays due to injury and finished with eight catches for 90 yards. He had an even bigger game at home two weeks ago against Chicago where he went for 134 yards and a touchdown. This week, he and RG3 host the Chargers in what could become a shootout and provide plenty of fantasy points to go around.
5. Jordan Cameron-Cleveland Browns
Cameron has played with three starting quarterbacks this year but has proven to be a big enough weapon in Norv Turner’s offense that he’s a top ten option with any of the three under center. Last week, he had four catches for 81 yards against the Chiefs elite defense and this week he faces the Ravens who he had 95 yards against in Baltimore back in week 2.
6. Antonio Gates-San Diego Chargers
Gates’ production has dropped recently with the emergence of Keenan Allen and the Chargers running game, but he’s still a TE1 this week against the Redskins who have allowed the opposing tight end to score in all but one of their games this season.
7. Greg Olsen-Carolina Panthers
Olsen and the Cats take on Atlanta this week at home in a NFC South grudge match. Olsen hasn’t seen as many passes coming his way in the last three games but the fact that he’s still a legit redzone threat and that he’s is in a nice matchup make him still a TE1 for the week.
8. Martellus Bennett-Chicago Bears
Bennett and the Bears face the Pack at Lameau this week in a juicy Monday Night Football matchup against Green Bay who allows the third-most fantasy points to opposing tight ends. He won’t have Jay Cutler getting him the ball, but Josh McCown did find him for the Bears lone passing TD in their week 7 loss in Washington before the bye week. Bennett is high-risk, but he could also pay off big time making him a solid start if your normal TE is on a bye (like Vernon Davis, Julius Thomas, and Brandon Myers).
9. Tony Gonzalez-Atlanta Falcons
Gonzalez hasn’t found much space as defenses have focused on taking him away without Julio Jones and Roddy White to contend with. He’s only caught five passes in the two weeks without the star wide outs for a total of just 56 yards. This week, he faces a Panthers offense that has struggled with the tight end, so he’s still startable for one more week, but if he struggles this week it may be time to move in another direction.
10. Kyle Rudolph-Minnesota Vikings
Rudolph enjoyed having Christian Ponder back catching four passes for 51 yards against Green Bay last Sunday Night. This week, the Vikings still don’t know who is under center but Rudolph will be in a nice matchup against Dallas who allows the fourth-most points to opposing TE. If you’re a Rudolph owner, you probably want Ponder under center since he uses the TE the most, but either way Rudolph is a borderline TE1.
Honorable Mention: Delanie Walker-Tennessee Titans, Charles Clay-Miami Dolphins