Before I get into what I really want to talk about today, I’d like to take just a little bit of time to point out what a strange football season we’ve had so far. In the last three weeks, there have been three unbelievable comeback victories, two of which involved the Buffalo Bills. Last week, Tom Brady threw four interceptions against those Bills, after having thrown four all of last season. Vince Wilfork has two interceptions, the first two of his nine year career. Joe Flacco didn’t complete a single pass in the second or third quarter of Sunday’s game, and yet his Ravens still destroyed the Jets 34-17. And finally, as the Colts continue to suck, the Raiders, 49ers, Bills and Lions all surprisingly look like legitimate contenders.
And that’s just the NFL. At the college level, the Michigan Wolverines, who have been terrible in recent years, are 5-0 and just ran up a 58-0 win against Minnesota. I’m not sure what’s going on in football right now, but I like it. It’s tremendous fun.
Anyway, today I want to talk about the rise of the pass catching tight end. Tight ends have always been important, especially for young quarterbacks. They’re a safety valve. If there are no open receivers down field, quarterbacks know that if they have a good tight end, they will be able to dump the ball off for a short gain. But this season it seems as if there are more elite pass catching tight ends than ever before, which is also good from a fantasy perspective.
The increase in productive tight ends is due to two aspects of today’s game: the large amount of young quarterbacks and uncertain quarterback situations, and the developing trend of teams carrying two capable tight ends on their rosters. For fantasy owners, this means that there is unprecedented depth at a normally shallow position. So if you have an injured starter or missed out on top tier tight ends such as the Patriots’ Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski, Jason Witten, Jermichael Finley, or Antonio Gates, there are plenty of serviceable tight ends out there that will help your team.
In addition to the established top tier tight ends, this season has seen the emergence of players like New Orleans’ Jimmy Graham, who has the second most fantasy points of any tight end in ESPN standard leagues, behind only Gronkowski. Even tight ends that don’t rack up a lot of yards each game can help you from a fantasy perspective, because when teams get into the red zone, there is nothing a quarterback likes more than a strong, sure-handed tight end. Buffalo’s Scott Chandler has only had more than 16 receiving yards in one game thus far, but he still has the ninth-most fantasy points amongst tight ends because he has scored four touchdowns through four games.
There are an astounding 14 tight ends that have scored at least two touchdowns through the first four weeks, and all of them are receiving multiple looks from their respective quarterbacks each week. Chandler, and other options such as Cincinnati’s Jermaine Gresham, who has two touchdowns and is 11th in points among tight ends, is a viable option that can help your team. The point is, if you need help at tight end, you don’t have to look far. Help is out there and it is more abundant than ever.
Pick Up of the Week: I’ve got two for you this week: WR David Nelson of the Buffalo Bills and RB Stevan Ridley of the New England Patriots. Nelson is essentially the Bills’ version of Wes Welker. He won’t get quite as many touchdowns or quite the same yardage, but Ryan Fitzpatrick loves throwing to him and that’s a good thing in that high powered offense. As for Ridley, it’s always risky to trust a Patriots running back, but Belichick seems to love Ridley and he’s shown better burst and power than BenJarvus Green-Ellis so far.
Daily Nexus NFL columnist Joshua Greenberg has more depth to him than the tight end position this year. It’s true.