Jesse Pantuosco (@JessePantuosco): The tight end crown still belongs to Rob Gronkowski, but who’s the Robin to his Batman? Jimmy Graham used to be that guy, but he hasn’t been the same since leaving New Orleans. Travis Kelce has some weeks where he looks like a superhero and others that leave you scratching your head. There really is no clear No. 2.
Which tight ends not named Gronkowski have caught your eye this year? I’ve seen a few Bengals games and I think Tyler Eifert’s the real deal. He leads all tight ends in touchdowns with five including two last week against a famously stingy Seahawks secondary. The volume’s there—he’s on pace for 115 targets—and at 6’6,” he’s a tough matchup inside the red zone. With Andy Dalton firing on all cylinders, I think Eifert has a great chance to finish as a top-three tight end.
Rich Hribar (@LordReebs): It’s definitely hard to disagree with Eifert being 2015’s Prince of Tight Ends. He’s been a top-7 scorer in PPR every week except for one and in that game he had what was a common sense touchdown called back due to the league having no clarity on what a catch actually is. While he’s been so consistent, he’s also shown he has a truly elite ceiling to go with it, something that players like Greg Olsen and Martellus Bennett have lacked. He’s tied with Larry Fitzgerald for the league lead in red zone scores and is attached to an offense that is focused on using their given mismatches each week, unlike the Chiefs with Travis Kelce. With Buffalo’s ability to defend the boundaries and Aaron Williams out this week, I’d be surprised if he doesn’t have another big game.
Raymond Summerlin (@RMSummerlin): You have to like what we saw from Antonio Gates on Monday night. He only played 57 percent of the snaps, but he saw 11 targets and, most importantly, two targets in the red zone. Philip Rivers targeted Gates on just over a quarter of his red-zone throws last season, and he looked to once again be locked into Gates in the scoring area on Monday night. His usage between the 20s should climb as he gets up to full speed, and it is pretty clear he remains an important weapon in the red zone. The touchdown numbers he put up last season are likely unrepeatable, but he can be a back-end TE1 with weekly touchdown upside.
Patrick Daugherty (@RotoPat): I’m going to go the stubborn route and stick with Travis Kelce. He’s still leading all tight ends in yards after the catch (granted, he’s played one more game than Gronk). Jamaal Charles‘ injury should provide clarity for Andy Reid. Kelce and Jeremy Maclin have to be funneled the ball. Kelce is simply one of the league’s most dynamic players with the ball in his hands. I’m still expecting that to translate to TE2 overall fantasy value.
Evan Silva (@evansilva): I thought Gates looked great last week. Moving smoothly and in really good shape. He played like a 4/undersized 5 last year but looked more like a 3/4 against the Steelers. I’m excited about him.
Jeff Brubach (@Jeff_Brubach): With Andy Dalton rolling along nicely this season, I agree that Tyler Eifert is a great bet to finish as fantasy’s second-best tight end. Eifert is the type of red zone beast that can certainly nip at Gronk’s heels as long as he is being targeted at his current rate. Also, I am interested to see what Travis Kelce‘s usage looks like with Jamaal Charles out as Pat mentioned. Andy Reid seemingly never checks his fantasy owner suggestion box, but we may have a shot now with Charles on the shelf.
Pantuosco: We should have seen the Graham-pocalypse coming. Graham has reeled in an impressive 80.8 percent of his targets this year. That’s higher than Gronk, Kelce, Eifert, you name it. The problem is he’s been targeted just 26 times in five contests. To put that in perspective, Graham Barfield’s good friend Gary Barnidge (who I like, by the way), has been targeted the same number of times in the last three weeks.
This was doomed from the start. Drew Brees averaged 658.8 passing attempts a season during Graham’s five-year stay in New Orleans. Russell Wilson’s career high is 452, which ranked 19th in the NFL last year. It gets worse. Brees targeted tight ends on 26.6 percent of his throws a year ago. Wilson’s percentage was 18.6. Graham must have been fuming watching Ben Watson go for 127 yards on Thursday night. “That could have been me!” Poor Jimmy.
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