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This Sunday was National Tight End Day, and there were many surprising performances in week eight. Former Houston Texan, Ryan Griffin, and current Texan, Darren Fells, each exploded for 20+ point performances due to their ability to find the endzone twice. Austin Hooper and Travis Kelce also put up outstanding numbers in their games against tough Seahawks and Packers defenses. Hooper and Kelce have been excellent fantasy options, regardless of their matchups, which makes them must-starts every week.
While National Tight-End day was a great outing for some tight ends, it was a regrettable performance for others. Eagles tight end, Zach Ertz, had another rough outing against a remarkable Bills defense. Ertz has been trending in the wrong direction since week five, and fantasy owners are close to having to decide whether to keep him. Ertz isn’t the only tight-end who has struggled in consecutive weeks, but he’s going to need to improve if he wants to be considered a TE1 again.
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Week Eight Studs
Against the Jacksonville Jaguars, tight-end Ryan Griffin had his first breakout game of the season. He finished with four catches, 66 yards, and two touchdowns. While the low yardage totals prevent Griffin from being a reliable fantasy tight-end, his performance indicates that QB Sam Darnold is growing more comfortable using Griffin as a safety valve. Griffin has had two 10+ point games the past three weeks, and if he can continue to assert himself as a red-zone threat, he could very well become a TE2 by week ten.
Following a lackluster outing against the Indianapolis Colts, Darren Fells bounced back against the Oakland Raiders. Fells reasserted himself as a red zone threat, scoring two touchdowns along with six total catches and 58 yards. Since week two, Fells has had a bumpy 2019 fantasy season in which he’ll have less than five points in one week, and follow it up with a 12+ point game. If the trend continues, he’s in for a dud against the Jaguars, but given the fact that he is currently tied for the most TDs by a TE this season, he’s always a treat for fantasy owners.
Similar to Ryan Griffin, Titans TE Jonnu Smith finally had booming success in week eight. He finished with six catches for 78 yards and a TD against a shoddy Tampa Bay Buccaneers defense. Since Marcus Mariota was benched in week six, Smith’s numbers are trending in the right direction, with the third-year veteran having consecutive weeks of 50+ yards receiving. However, he is going to need to see continued success if he’s going to be a reliable option for the foreseeable future.
Tyler Eifert finally was able to reach double-digit fantasy numbers against the Los Angeles Rams. Week eight was the first week in which Eifert had above 27 yards, and was the first time he had more than three receptions since week one. Eifert was a top-ten TE this week due to an increase in his targets, from four in weeks six and seven, to a whopping nine in week eight. The Bengals finally decided to bench QB Andy Dalton, which will lead to a change in Eifert’s numbers, but desperate fantasy owners should watch how Eifert fares with rookie QB Ryan Finley.
Week Eight Duds
Zach Ertz couldn’t get anything going against the Buffalo Bills. The former Stanford Cardinal struggled all day, finishing with two receptions for 20 yards. Week eight marked the third consecutive week that Ertz failed to reach 10 points, and the third straight week that Dallas Goedert has been a more productive fantasy option than Ertz. If Ertz continues this problematic regression, he will become Carson Wentz’s second favorite tight-end and fall below TE2 status.
After a promising start to the season, T.J. Hockenson has been utterly unproductive following the Lions’ bye week. Since week six, Hockenson has totaled eight catches for 74 yards and zero scores. Most of Hockenson’s inability to produce is linked to his low target share, as he is 4th amongst Lions pass catchers on the target share list. Unless he’s able to get things going against a mediocre Raiders defense that’s allowing the third most TE fantasy points, it’s time for fantasy owners to think about cutting the first-year Hawkeye product.
Greg Olsen was unable to satisfy fantasy owners in his week eight game against the soaring San Francisco 49ers. Greg Olsen’s performance is hardly his fault considering his QB Kyle Allen was getting harassed and pressured all game long. Nevertheless, it is time for fantasy owners to abandon Greg Olsen. He has failed to reach 10 points in four straight weeks, and similar to Hockenson, Olsen is only 4th amongst Carolina Panthers players in terms of target share. Furthermore, Kyle Allen is only averaging 211 passing yards/game this season, which doesn’t leave a lot of opportunities for Olsen to see high yardage output.
Gerald Everett heads into the Rams bye week with an underwhelming outing the Cincinnati Bengals. Gerald only had two receptions for 15 yards and zero touchdowns. While Everett has been inconsistent the previous five weeks, his inability to accumulate fantasy points is a byproduct of the competition he’s facing. Of the three 15+ point performances that Everett has accomplished, two of them came against bottom-five defenses when it comes to allowing TE fantasy points. However, against teams that are modest or excellent at restricting TEs, Everett only has one double-digit fantasy performance. Given the fact that Everett’s targets are not decreasing, he is still a nice TE2 option to play against favorable matchups.
Despite coming off a bad game in week seven and an unfavorable matchup in week eight, George Kittle was able to fare pretty well against the Carolina Panthers. The next four weeks look incredibly favorable for Kittle, who will play the Cardinals twice, the Seahawks, and the Green Bay Packers. The Cardinals give up the most fantasy points to TEs, the Seahawks give up the fourth-most, and the Packers surrender the 6th-most. Look for Kittle to head to Arizona on Thursday and do damage to the Cardinals defense, especially in the red zone.
Evan Engram is also primed to have a favorable matchup against the Dallas Cowboys. In his week one performance against the Cowboys, Engram totaled 28.6 points with 11 receptions for 116 yards and a TD. Dallas is currently allowing the 5th most points to tight-ends, so look for Engram to be a focal point of the New York offense.
Mark Andrews will be in for his most challenging game this year when the New England Patriots head to town to face the Baltimore Ravens. The Patriots defense has been daunting this year and currently allows the second-fewest fantasy points to TEs this season. Even though Mark Andrews is Ravens QB, Lamar Jackson’s favorite targets, and now leads the Ravens in terms of target share, Pats head coach, Bill Belichick, is known for his ability to draw up schemes to rattle QBs. As a result, Andrews is a TE2 this week, and only should be started in desperate situations.
Similar to Mark Andrews, Jason Witten should be avoided in most fantasy leagues. According to ESPN Fantasy, the 15-year veteran is only 14th amongst TEs in terms of average fantasy points for a tight end and has only had one 10+ point fantasy game in the past five weeks. The New York Giants are extremely stingy against tight-ends when it comes to fantasy points this season, so look for Dak Prescott to look for Amari Cooper and hand the ball off to Ezekiel Elliot in week nine.
Darren Fells is a must pick up for fantasy owners. Despite being second amongst TE’s in terms of TDs, and eighth in terms of TE fantasy points, Fells is only rostered by 11.6% of ESPN fantasy football owners. He’s not the flashiest pickup, and he has yet to reach 100 yards in a game this season, but he excels at finding the end zone and making the most of his targets. As a result, he is always a threat for a 20 point game and should be a waiver pickup for all fantasy owners.
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