Though it’s often an afterthought on draft day, the tight end position comes into focus on this weeks’ edition of Working the Wire. We lost a pair of top-10 caliber tight ends this week — Dennis Pitta to a second hip dislocation and Kyle Rudolph to groin surgery — and have also seen Jordan Cameron and Vernon Davis miss time. Rob Gronkowski is still working his way back to full strength and, of course, the bye weeks begin top strip the depth at the position, leaving Julius Thomas and Jordan Cameron owners searching for a temporary replacement.
So, how does and owner searching for both a short and long term solution address a position who’s depth is rapidly declining? We’ve got a couple of options for you out there in a number of leagues that we’re pushing to the top of the list, presented in the order we’re lining up to add em.
Larry Donnell (NYG) – 40% owned: The Giants offense showed a massive improvement in Week 3 and Donnell continues to carve out a consistent role, seeing 6+ targets in each of the first three games. He’s a big target for Eli Manning and runs plenty of high-percentage routes. Donnell is unlikely to win you any weeks, but he’s rock solid in Charles Clay 2013 type of way.
Niles Paul (WAS) – 44% owned: Paul has a bit more week-to-week potential than Donnell, but his long-term upside is capped with Jordan Reed eventually returning to the starting lineup. If we’re adding a player for this week to cover a bye, Paul is the preferred option.
Travis Kelce (KC) – 49% owned: His workload remains limited but the Cheifs should continue to open things up in the passing game as the year drags on. Kelce has top-7 upside at the position if given the targets.
Owen Daniels (BAL) – 27% owned: Daniels busted out in Week 2 with a pair of touchdown grabs but was largely ignored in the Ravens latest efforts. Pitta’s injury should open up some obvious opportunities in the passing game and he’s worth an add for the TE-needy.
Ladarius Green (SD) – 40% owned: Green was not targeted in Week 2, but bounced back witha 4-for-46 performance on six targets Sunday. His athletecism and upside is evident, but the role may be slower to come than many fantasy owners would like.
Heath Miller (PIT) – 56% owned: The least sexy of the group, Miller figures to be good for 4-5 receptions and 50 yards each week. He’s going to need to get into the end zone to pay off for fantasy owners and is yet to be targeted in the red zone.
We’re also keeping an eye on Andrew Quarless and Brandon Bostick in Green Bay, Levine Toilolo in Atlanta and Tim Wright in New England. None of these guys nade the cut as recommended “adds” this week, but we could easily see them rise on this list in the coming weeks.
Working the Waiver Wire
Each week, we’ll outline the top options available in more than 50% of standard fantasy leagues and arranged roughly in the order we’d prioritize the pickup.
Kirk Cousins (WAS): While it clearly won’t always be as pretty as it was Sunday (427 yards, 3 TD, 1 INT), Cousins has the skill set and surrounding talent to put up top-10 numbers the rest of the way in the defensively challenged NFC East.
Eli Manning (NYG): With the team putting forth a strong effort in the run game (193 yards on 42 carries) Eli was efficiet in his best game of the season, completing 21-for-28 passes for 234 yards and a pair of scores. He’s got plenty of opportunity to turn things around with games @WAS, vs. ATL, @PHI, and @DAL ahead of the teams’ Week 8 bye.
Khiry Robinson (NO): He failed to get in the end zone in Week 3, but the workload was there for Khiry. He remains ripe for the plucking off the wire with the hope that goal line carries will also come his way in the near future.
Donald Brown (SD): The last man standing in San Diego didn’t do a ton with a massive workload in last Week — 89 yards on 36 touches — but is a must add with opportunity coming.
Deangelo Williams (CAR): After missing two straight games with a thigh injury, the hope is that Williams will return to the field for a Week 4 date with the Ravens. The Panthers lost both Johnathan Stewart and Mike Tolbert, so D-Will should step right back into the workhorse role.
Isaiah Crowell (CLE): Crowell continues to be the more impressive runner of Cleveland’s rookie tandem and while he’s unlikely to grab an every down role, continued productivity should keep him in the mix even when Ben Tate returns. Unfortunately, a bye week is staring Crowell in the face and it could be tough to make room for the emerging back.
Roy Helu (WSH): Though Helu’s talent flashes on a regular basis, he’s yet to carve out a big enough workload to move to the top of this list. He’s a solid stash, however, and not just for Al Mo owners.
Alfred Blue (HOU): Arian Foster owners will certainly want to put Blue close to the top of their pickup list.
Lorenzo Taliafaro (BAL): Though he looked strong in Week 3 duties, but Talifaro’s role is hard to predict. Still, Bernard Pierce should get another crack as the bell cow in a tough matchup against the Panthers with some added pressure from the rookie.
Brian Quick (STL): Quick has clearly emerged as the Rams’ only useful piece in the passing game, piling up 16 catches for 235 yards and a score over three weeks.
Miles Austin (CLE): While can’t bank on long term health, the veteran Austin has been healthy and productive through three weeks.
James Jones (OAK): Jones is the clear number one on a terrible offense. It will be boom or bust production all year long.
Jordan Mathews (PHI): The preseason sleeper took a couple of weeks to find his way into the Eagles’ game plan. His workload will continue to grow, but the litany of weapons in Philly will make consistent production a difficult thing.
Marvin Jones (CIN): He’ll move to the top of this list following the Bengals’ Week 4 bye as Jones should be ready to return from a preseason foot injury.
Allen Robinson (JAX): Flew under the radar amongst a talented crop of rookie recievers in this year’s draft, Robinson has moved to the top of the depth chart due to injuries and put up solid number on 10 targets Sunday.
Jeremy Kerley (NYJ): Kerley is developing into a nice little PPR play after his 7-81-1 performance on 11 targets during Monday Night Football.