Week 8 TE Start, Sit Fantasy Strategy: Gronk-Brady Connection Is Back

Harrison Bryant is this week’s “come out of nowhere” tight end who superseded expectations with a two-touchdown game. He had received some work before last week but with the Browns’ receiving corps banged up, Bryant played a huge role in the offense, especially near the endzone. His usage could keep up too as he had five targets last week. Last week also marked another big week for Rob Gronkowski which makes two in a row. The old connection between Gronkowski and Tom Brady could be a very dangerous threat moving forward. We all had a feeling this would come, but the day is finally here. Lastly, T.J. Hockenson is continuing to prove he is a top tight end in the league with 59 yards and a touchdown. There still has not been a week in which Hockenson has not put up starting material numbers. Moving into the back end of the fantasy season, winning becomes more and more important. To help you gain an edge, here are some of the tight ends you should be starting and avoiding.

Start ‘Em

Rob Gronkowski, Tampa Bay Buccaneers

Opponent: New York Giants

It now has been back-to-back weeks of big games for Rob Gronkowski. The old connection between him and Tom Brady might be coming back. He received eight targets and hauled in a touchdown in both games. Both games account for his two best-receiving totals this season with 62 and 78-yard performances. When paired with the touchdowns, the numbers have gotten up there. The Buccaneers’ next matchup against the Giants could go well for him again as they have been a poor overall defense. The one problem is that they are better at guarding tight ends this season as they have allowed the ninth-least amount of fantasy points to tight ends. Seeing the momentum for Gronk and the chemistry between him and Brady, we can expect him to break the seal this week.

Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans

Opponent: Cincinnati Bengals

After two weeks of just one reception, this week is set up perfectly to be a comeback week for Jonnu Smith. Smith had such a great start to the season that the Titans cannot help but start going back to him again. The Bengals give the best chance of this happening as they have allowed the third-most fantasy points to tight ends this season. After receiving seven or more targets in three out of the first four games, the last two weeks have been a surprise. After a loss last week, they may think about reverting back to what worked initially which included a lot of Smith. He also just needs to do a better job at catching his targets which will improve with time.

Noah Fant, Denver Broncos

Opponent: Los Angeles Chargers

If Noah Fant is healthy enough to play this week, he is a great option against a Chargers’ defense who has allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to tight ends this season. After such a great start for Fant, his fantasy value has dropped as his yardage has fallen and he has not found the endzone since week 2. Only catching three of his seven targets last week is also not a good sign, but his injury had to have played a role in that game as he sat out the previous game. The Chargers provide a bounce-back game as they have struggled to cover tight ends. As he continues to recover from his injury, Fant will return to playing a huge role in the offense who has few receiving threats.

Sit ‘Em

T.J. Hockenson, Detroit Lions

Opponent: Indianapolis Colts

In the introduction, I mentioned how T.J. Hockenson has been one of the best tight ends this season, but even with a top tight end, the matchup can play a big role in their production. Hockenson still is not a tight end that you can play every week like with Kelce, Waller, or Andrews. His production will likely dip this week against the best defense in the league. The Colts have hammered tight ends, allowing just 22.3 yards per game and zero touchdowns. While Hockenson is not a fully touchdown-reliant tight end, they certainly have been on his side with a touchdown in four of his six games. I would hold off on him this week if you have another option.

Harrison Bryant, Cleveland Browns

Opponent: Las Vegas Raiders

After an insane week for Harrison Bryant, can you expect the same thing again? I lean towards no. Two touchdown games are infrequent even for the top tight ends in the league and Bryant is a name who came out of nowhere. Austin Hooper played a limited role in the Browns’ offense before going with an injury. It is unlikely that they would play Bryant more than Hooper just because of his injury. The hype exceeds the reality for me which is leaning towards a large reduction for Bryant. Odell Beckham Jr.’s injury is help for Bryant owners as it spreads out targets more, but the introduction of Donovan Peoples-Jones will limit the targets for Bryant, leaving him as your typical average backup tight end.

Trey Burton, Indianapolis Colts

Opponent: Detroit Lions

I doubt that you would have to reach deep enough for Trey Burton to even come across your mind, but if you are in a deep league, Burton is one to avoid this week. In his last game two weeks ago, Burton had an explosive game with four receptions for 58 yards and a touchdown. He had never seen that usage before which made it such a surprise. Normally, the Lions would be a great matchup for most offensive weapons as they are one of the worst defenses in the league, but they manage to hold tight ends to very few points. In fact, they are the third-best defense at covering tight ends. This does not favor Burton well who has only one good game to prove himself. His production will likely revert back to what it had been.

  
I started playing fantasy football in 2010 at 12 years old where I subbed in for an owner who was having a baby. That year I won the championship in a 16-team league, carried by Arian Foster and Michael Vick. I have yet to bring a trophy home since then, but my love for fantasy football has grown, delving more and more in the statistics and finding ways to improve my drafting ability.

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