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NFL Fantasy Week 2: Start ‘em, sit ‘em – tight ends

Here we go again. For all the talk of how the tight end position looked more stable in 2018, we find Jared Cook (ADP TE-17) and Will Dissly (undrafted) leading the position in scoring.

Travis Kelce (ADP TE-2)? He gave us 0.6 NFL Fantasy points. Zack Ertz almost made the cut with an 11th best 4.8 NFL fantasy points. Greg Olsen couldn’t finish his game. Jimmy Graham’s involvement in the Packers’ comeback involved fighting off the Bears defensive line. Evan Engram dropped as many passes as he caught.

But with the exception of Dissly, at least we recognized the names of the top ten scorers and didn’t have to look up what teams they play for. And to be honest, being a top-ten scoring tight end didn’t amount to much.

Delanie Walker didn’t even finish his game, but his 52 yards (5.2 standard NFL Fantasy points) was good for the TE-10 spot. Scoring a touchdown, which only five tight ends managed to do last week- guarantees a top-ten finish.

We also can’t expect players like Graham, Engram, and Kelce to be so uninvolved in their teams’ offensive attacks most weeks.

It all makes predicting the top ten a crapshoot- just like last season. Of course, that won’t stop us from trying! So here you go with Week 2’s start ‘em and sit ‘ems.

Start this guy: Jimmy Graham at Minnesota

It sure looked like the fears of Jimmy Graham becoming a forgotten man in Green Bay came true in Week 1. An immobile (due to injury) Aaron Rodgers needed as much blocking help as possible, which took the tight end out of the game plan when the NFL Fantasy points were being distributed.

The Packers’ wide receivers were also able to get open against the Bears corners, something that is not as sure a thing against Minnesota. The Vikings pass rush is nothing to take lightly, but their better secondary will force Rodgers to find Graham popping his head out of the pile like a gopher enough times to warrant the start up north.

Sit this guy: Jared Cook at Denver

Wait a minute… did I get the first start ‘im and sit ‘im mixed up? No. Graham will be needed more in Minnesota, but Jared Cook will practically disappear after his TE-1 showing against the Rams. Cook was the focus of the Raiders’ attack against the Rams as Derek Carr made a determined effort not to pass toward LA's Pro Bowl-caliber cornerbacks.

This week, Oakland faces a Broncos team that admittedly gave up 105 yards to a guy named Dissly. They also shut down the Seahawk’s receiving tight end, Nick Vannett. Coupled with Jon Gruden’s calling out of Amari Cooper, I have to believe the script shifts back to wide receivers-first for the Raiders, while Denver’s defense helps Cook continue his pattern of averaging less than 3 NFL fantasy points the week after a 100-yard game.

Start this guy: George Kittle vs Detroit

George Kittle finished with 90 yards in a generally awful offensive showing by the 49ers. He left a touchdown and a bunch more yards on the field by dropping a long pass from Jimmy Garoppolo.

Detroit won’t offer the defensive resistance Minnesota did and Kittle remains a favorite target of the Niners’ young passer. Kittle lined up in the slot over 20 times last week, which makes sense since he fields passes more like a wide receiver than a tight end.

Kittle might soon be a no-brainer start, potentially joining the likes of Kelce, Ertz, and Gronkowski as the “elite” tight ends of the 2019 NFL Fantasy draft. So, let me use him one more time as a recommended start em in Week 2.

Sit this guy: Will Dissly at Chicago

Will Dissly is a blocking tight end. Chicago has a vicious pass rush. They also play tight ends pretty well. Sure, there is a chance Pete Carroll will reward his rookie blocker’s surprising Week 1 performance by allowing him to sneak out in a pattern once or twice. But it will be a bad idea.

If you think a Seahawk tight end will catch a few passes against Chicago, I’d play Nick Vannett ahead of Dissly. But, I don’t think I’ll be starting either of them, even with injury to Doug Baldwin. It is more likely we see the new wide receiver, Kareem Reynolds, play the role of Dissly this week than Dissly.

Start these guys: Jack Doyle and Eric Ebron at Washington

Jack Doyle was targeted ten times in Indianapolis’ season-opening loss to the Bengals. That was second only to TY Hilton. He remains the favorite tight end target for now.

If not for a lost fumble, the Colts would have had two top-ten scorers at the position. As it was, Doyle’s 60 yards was the most on the team. With a floor of 5 points or so, Doyle offers a safe tight end starter each week.

Eric Ebron looked sharp, but his 5 targets put him closer to Jordan Wilkins and Chester Rogers in the pecking order than Hilton, Doyle, Ryan Grant, and Nyheim Hines, who each had at least 9 passes thrown their way.

However, Ebron is more likely to break a play for a score than Doyle. With Andrew Luck behind center, anyone with two hands is a threat for a big day. Ebron’s legs give him a higher ceiling than Doyle.

Sit this guy: Evan Engram at Dallas

Like last week, I have concerns about Evan Engrams target share with a healthy Odell Beckham and Saquon Barkley on the field, as well as his penchant for dropping the ball. Last week, he saw 5 targets. He caught two and dropped two. Eli Manning can’t seem to hit anybody deeper than ten yards, further limiting Engram’s upside.

To be fair, Engram had an acrobatic 24-yard catch called back by penalty. In what I suspect will be a breakout day for the Giants’ offense, I still have enough concerns to sit Engram.

Overtime considerations:

Rookie Ian Thomas and the young Jonnu Smith offer interesting options as they step in for injured tight ends Greg Olsen and Delanie Walker. Thomas has the better upside, but I don’t have enough confidence to start either of them.

David Njoku will wear the “potential” tag until he can provide more than 13 yards with 7 targets. Cleveland needs him to step up if the Saints take out Josh Gordon, but I don’t trust him to do it.

Green Bay traditionally plays tight ends tough in NFL Fantasy. Don’t give up on Chicago’s Trey Burton just yet. He’s a better start this week against the Seahawks.

Full disclosure: drops and fumbles will kill ya

Because tight ends don’t score points, we’ll use a simple system of saying any top-12 (since I play in 12-team leagues) tight end is a successful start.

By that standard, I still got beat by Austin Seferian-Jenkins’ dropped touchdown and Jack Doyle’s lost fumble in Week 1. George Kittle, despite his dropped potential touchdown, made my sit recommendation look silly, too.

All in all, I guessed right on 6 of my 9 recommendations for a respectable 67% rate. If we were gambling, that would bring a very nice return.

Do you have more sit ‘im or start ‘im conundrums? Give them to me in the comments below or on my Facebook page, where I’ll be tracking my success rate all season.