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NFL Fantasy Week 4: Start ‘em, Sit ‘em- tight ends

Vance McDonald appears to be healed from his preseason injuries. His aggressive stiff-arm on the way to a long touchdown nearly took down Twitter. It also helped make him the only tight end to gain 100 yards (112) and score a touchdown in Week 3.

Travis Kelce gained more yards (114), but when Pat Mahomes threw a touchdown to his tight end, it was Demetrius Harris, not Kelce, on the receiving end.

Like last season, the top ten scorers list included some unusual names. Philadelphia rookie Dallas Goedert split the tight end yardage with the better-known Zach Ertz (TE-12), but a touchdown gave him the second-best tight end points total.

Career blocker Rhett Ellison was the TE-5 and Buffalo’s Jason Croom and Cincinnati’s CJ Uzomah snuck into the top ten, too.

So, who can we expect to finish in the top spots in Week 4? Consider these guys:

Start this guy: Trey Burton (vs Tampa Bay)

Trey Burton hasn’t paid off for the NFL Fantasy owners who made him a top-ten draft pick based on his performance in the absence of Zach Ertz last year. The new Bears coach, Matt Nagy, knows a thing or two about using tight ends, enhancing the possibilities in the minds of NFL Fantasy owners.

Is it time to jump off that wagon? Not this week. Tampa Bay has not done a good job against tight ends through three games. If Nagy didn’t realize that, Vance McDonald’s nationally-televised stiff arm should have made him check.

Throw in quarterback Mitchell Trubisky’s difficulties throwing the ball downfield, and Burton almost has to get more involved. This is as good a week as any. Give him another week.

Sit this guy: George Kittle (at LA Chargers)

Kittle was a favorite target of Jimmy Garoppolo and will remain a big part of the 49ers offense. But CJ Beathard is not likely to have as much of an aversion to throwing to his wide receivers as Jimmy G displayed recently.

It is reasonable to expect a heavy dose of Matt Breida and Alfred Morris as San Francisco adapts to life with their new passer. Even if the Chargers take a big lead, Kittle’s targets will be shared with the wideouts.

Start this guy: Eric Ebron vs Houston

Jack Doyle should miss another week with a hip injury. Should he return, I’d sit Ebron.

Without his veteran teammate in the mix, Eric Ebron saw 11 targets against Philadelphia. He picked a bad week to have his first bad outing, catching 5 passes for just 33 yards.

This is a tight-end heavy attack. This week they should be able to take better advantage of that against a Texans defense that allows 9.9 NFL Fantasy points to tight ends each week.

Ebron had touchdowns in limited work over the first two weeks. It’s a good bet he gets back into the end zone in Week 4.

Sit this guy: Austin Seferian-Jenkins (vs Jets)

Last week’s defensive struggle with the Titans could be repeated in Jacksonville against the surprising Jets defense. Leonard Fournette would improve the Jaguar’s rushing outlook, but one thing that won’t change is the Jets’ familiarity with tight end Austin Seferian-Jenkins.

New York comes into Week 4 allowing just 4.3 NFL Fantasy points per game to opposing tight ends. That is the sixth-best mark in the league. Look for them to continue that pace even if Seferian-Jenkins sees the 5-7 targets he’s managed so far.

Start this guy: Austin Hooper vs Cincinnati

Austin Hooper was held to 23 yards on three catches facing the top NFL Fantasy defense against tight ends last week. But his 4 targets against the Saints represents a change in the Falcons’ modus operandi.

That effort followed a 5-target game in which Hooper scored and put up 59 yards. It coincides with Matt Ryan’s and the Falcons’ concerted decision to spread the ball around more. Scoring more than 30 points in each game, there is no reason to expect that will change Sunday.

Cincinnati gives up a fifth-worst 10.8 NFL Fantasy points to tight ends each week. That spells opportunity for Hooper.

Sit this guy: Dallas Goedert at Titans

Dallas Goedert got more involved in the Eagles’ offense last week, just like coach Doug Pederson said he should. The rookie tight end finished second only to Vance McDonald among NFL Fantasy scorers.

This week, he faces a Titans defense giving up a league-best 2.3 NFL Fantasy points to tight ends. While I expect that number to go up compliments of Zach Ertz, I would not try to ride the rookie another week.

Alshon Jeffrey is rumored to be coming back this week and Jordan Matthews should be more involved, too, further reducing targets for Goedert.

Extra points

Antonio Gates looked much quicker and stronger in last week’s loss to the Rams. What better day for him to catch his next touchdown pass than against the fourth-worst NFL Fantasy defense against tight ends?

Baker Mayfield might offer his receivers some better NFL Fantasy point opportunities, but if there is one thing the Oakland Raiders defense does right, it is defending tight ends. I am not starting David Njoku.

Full disclosure: looking good!

Despite all the surprises in Week 3, folks who followed my advice mostly did alright. Six of my eight recommendations came through.

Will Dissly was my real miss as the blocking tight end suddenly remembered what his role is supposed to be. My tongue-in-cheek mention of Rob Gronkowski (TE-21) has to count as a miss, too.

But Kittle and Eifert came through as top-12 starts, while my four sit ‘ems all finished below the TE-12 threshold. Only OJ Howard (TE-14) made me sweat those decisions.

This week will be even better. I’m pretty sure.