Week 2 was a bounce-back week for many tight ends. Rob Gronkowski and Travis Kelce owners can breathe a sigh of relief after each player rebounded from Week 1 disappointments with over 100 yards and a touchdown each. Things were so status quo for the two studs that Gronkowski left early due to an injury and Kelce was flagged for an unsportsmanlike conduct penalty. Ah, normalcy. There were eight tight ends who had at least 79 receiving yards, as opposed to two in Week 1. There were also 10 tight ends who caught a touchdown pass in Week 2. Yet somehow there were only six tight ends who hit double digits in fantasy points last week, and one of those (Delanie Walker) did so on the strength of a rushing touchdown. Go figure. Unfortunately, the news was not all good. Greg Olsen suffered a broken foot and has been placed on IR. If you’re an Olsen owner looking to stream tight ends, or if you simply have two so-so options on your roster, matchups will often determine your course of action. Here are some of the tight end matchups I’m looking to take advantage of in Week 3.
Zach Ertz, Philadelphia Eagles vs. New York Giants – This one might be a tad obvious, but Zach Ertz needs to be treated as a borderline-elite tight end this week. Ertz leads all NFL tight ends through Week 2 with 190 receiving yards and currently ranks as the overall TE6 despite not yet having scored a touchdown. He probably won’t have a fluky 53-yard catch every week, but his chemistry with Carson Wentz is undeniable. Ertz is quickly becoming a matchup-proof starter. As it stands, his Week 3 matchup is pretty juicy. The Giants have allowed touchdown catches in back-to-back weeks to opposing tight ends and have allowed 13 receptions on just 15 targets. In his last three games against the Giants, Ertz has caught all 19 of his targets against the Giants for 282 yards. His floor is very bankable in this matchup, and a touchdown catch would likely vault Ertz into a top-five option this week.
Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts vs. Cleveland Browns – Jack Doyle was Colts’ fill-in quarterback Jacoby Brissett’s most efficient receiver in the Colts’ Week 2 loss against Arizona. Doyle caught all eight of his targets for 79 yards and finished last week as the overall TE14 in standard scoring. I think he’s in for an even better week in Week 3. Last season’s Cleveland squad gave up a league-high 13 touchdowns to opposing tight ends. Things haven’t gotten any better for Cleveland thus far against tight ends in 2017. They’ve already given up 19 receptions (most in the NFL), 162 receiving yards (third-most) and two touchdowns (tied for most) to opposing tight ends this season. I think Doyle is in line for a monster game this week. I wouldn’t be surprised if he ends up as a top-five tight end in Week 3, prompting Doyle owners to break out their favorite meme.
[the_ad_group id=”2221″]Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions vs. Atlanta Falcons – Eric Ebron ended up as the TE6 in Week 2 by virtue of his five catches, 42 receiving yards and a touchdown in Detroit’s victory against the New York Giants. Ebron was responsible for 34.4 percent of Detroit’s receiving output. While that number is unsustainable, there’s reason for optimism once again this week. The Lions head home to face the Atlanta Falcons. Much like the Giants, Atlanta also boasts a very talented secondary, which may make life difficult for the Lions’ wide receivers. Through two games, Atlanta has given up the most targets to opposing tight ends and running backs. I expect Ebron to be a focal point of Detroit’s attack as Matthew Stafford checks down to his backs and tight ends quite a bit in this game. I believe Eric Ebron will be heavily targeted in this matchup, making him a prime candidate for another big game in Week 3.
Jared Cook, Oakland Raiders at Washington Redskins – Jared Cook let me down last week, but I’m going back to the well with him in Week 3. Last season, the Washington Redskins gave up the second-most receptions (106) and the third-most yards (1100) to tight ends. Things have not started out much better this season. So far, they have allowed the most receiving yards to opposing tight ends. They have given up 208 yards to tight ends this season, despite tight ends being targeted just 14 times in total. It will be interesting to see how Oakland approaches this matchup. The Raiders have two star wide receivers in Michael Crabtree and Amari Cooper. However, the Redskins will counter with Josh Norman and Bashaud Breeland in coverage. I think Raiders’ quarterback Derek Carr will look for Jared Cook against Washington’s questionable linebackers and safeties quite a bit in this game. I think Cook makes for a solid under-the-radar option this Sunday night.
Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans vs. Seattle Seahawks – If you own Delanie Walker, it will be tough to bench him this week. He’s been the Titans’ leading receiver in each of the team’s first two games, and he currently ranks as the overall TE5. However, I’d curb expectations quite a bit in this week’s matchup against Seattle. The Seahawks’ defense is perennially tough against tight ends and has been quite impressive thus far in 2017 as well. They’ve held tight ends to just three touchdowns dating back to last season. They’ve been even stingier over their last eight games, conceding just 264 yards and one touchdown to opposing tight ends. I see Walker doing just enough to make him playable, but I don’t see him getting into the end zone this week, which limits his upside. I do not think Delanie Walker finishes Week 3 as a top-10 tight end.
Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals at Green Bay Packers – The entire Cincinnati Bengals offense has been out of sync to start the 2017 season, and quarterback Andy Dalton has looked terrible. In an attempt to shake things up, Cincinnati fired offensive coordinator Ken Zampese and replaced him with Bill Lazor. Even with the promise of a rejuvenated offense, Tyler Eifert’s matchup this week isn’t ideal and may prevent a Week 3 breakout. Albeit in a small sample size, Green Bay has held opposing tight ends to a minuscule 25 yards on 12 targets thus far in 2017. In addition, Eifert is currently questionable with knee and back injuries. As the Bengals and Packers don’t kickoff until 4:25 PM EST, it’s probably best to have another option this week. Given the uncertainty regarding both his playing status and his role within Cincinnati’s new offensive scheme, I begrudgingly suggest steering clear of Eifert this week.
Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks at Tennessee Titans – Jimmy Graham has four catches for nine yards so far this season. That is not a typo. Graham has struggled mightily in consecutive matchups against Green Bay and San Francisco, defenses that were towards the middle of the pack in defending the tight end position a year ago. Both of those teams seem to have improved this season versus tight ends, but not so much as to excuse Graham’s poor performance. Graham now faces a Tennessee Titans defense that was considerably better than both Green Bay and San Francisco against tight ends in 2016. Tennessee allowed just 20 receptions for 180 receiving yards and a lone touchdown over their final seven games last year against tight ends. So far in 2017, they’ve picked right up where they left off, allowing just five receptions for 56 scoreless yards. Graham is also fighting knee and ankle injuries as well, making a Week 3 rebound performance a lot less likely. Graham simply cannot be trusted in this matchup.
SLEEPER OF THE WEEK:
Ben Watson, Baltimore Ravens at Jacksonville Jaguars – Ben Watson bounced back from a Week 1 bagel, leading the Ravens with 91 receiving yards in Week 2. He also hauled in all eight of his targets. Ravens’ quarterback Joe Flacco has always been fond of targeting his tight ends quite a bit, and I don’t think Watson’s big Week 2 was a fluke. Lest we forget, Watson is just a season removed from finishing as the overall TE8 in 2015. This week the Ravens take on the Jacksonville Jaguars. As Rotoworld’s Rich Hribar notes, nearly 40% of Jacksonville’s receiving yards allowed have come via the tight end this season. I look for Watson to carry last week’s success into this week’s tilt against the Jaguars. Please note that this game will take place in London, so make sure you don’t wait until the last minute to plug Watson into your lineup.