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High Staked: Where We Rant About Tight Ends

This is where we complain about tight ends.

Yes, I know, I mention tight ends in this space seemingly weekly.1 The big reason, of course, is because FFPC differentiates itself from other scoring systems by weighting the value of tight ends, giving them 1.5 points per catch. Having a productive, reliable TE is key to succeeding. However, that fact is at odds with this one: Productive, reliable TEs seem scarcer than ever.

Nowhere is this more evident than with Rob Gronkowski. He has been such a dominant force at his position for so long that a lot of teams grabbed him in the second round, then assumed they were set at the position and waited until much later to take a backup.2Typically a staple of league-winning teams, Gronk’s rank going into Week 8 was as the overall TE10 in points per game, which means he’s more likely to be a part of cellar-dwelling squads than those at the top. Moreover, his back injury – which wreaked havoc on lineups last week when he was a late scratch – combined with his questionable tag for tonight’s game in Buffalo have made it difficult to plug him in with any confidence.

Week 8 was a microcosm of the frustrating season it’s been regarding tight ends in high-stakes leagues. With bye weeks mostly a non-factor – only Atlanta’s Austin Hooper could be considered a regular starter, as Dallas, Tennessee and the Chargers have no TEs of consequence – there were a lot of choices at the position, and a lot of disappointment.

It should come as no surprise that Travis Kelce was the top TE of the weekend. However, in an effort to really troll owners, the fantasy gods made sure the weekend’s second-best TE was Jack Doyle, who last played in Week 2 and was surely the MVP of benches everywhere.

It’s hard to remember a week this season when more TEs came up empty in spots where they were almost sure things to succeed. For example:

  • David Njoku had scored in the previous two games and had been one of the most consistent at the position since Baker Mayfield took the reins in Cleveland. Yesterday: No targets, zero points.
  • After a dud in Week 1, Jimmy Graham had scored in double figures every game this season. Yesterday: 1 catch for 21 yards.
  • Trey Burton had scored in his last three games and four of his last six. Yesterday: 3 catches for 18 yards.
  • A popular sleeper pick this week, C.J. Uzomah was expected to put up respectable numbers against a Tampa defense that has been terrible against TEs all season. Yesterday: zero points.

All of Greg Olsen, Jared Cook, O.J. Howard and Zach Ertz had only 4 catches each, but saved their days with touchdowns. Eric Ebron and Jacksonville rookie TE David Grinnage each had identical lines of 3 catches for 37 yards. The difference? Ebron scored. Last week’s waiver-wire darling, Jets rookie TE Chris Herndon, scored for the third week in a row, but his 16-yard TD was his only reception of the game.

With that said, there are a few bright spots. Doyle seemed healthy and has rejoined a Colts offense that’s humming behind Andrew Luck. Evan Engram and Olsen also look to have rebounded from their respective injuries. Cook’s late-round value continues to pay off and could spike even more with the departure of Amari Cooper.

As for this week’s waivers, unfortunately, there don’t seem to be any TEs worth grabbing. You can safely ignore Seth DeValve and his garbage-time TD. And for the love of all things holy, you don’t need to put in a bid for David Grinnage.

  1. Deal with it.  (back)
  2. Or, in our case, we paired him with an even more disappointing TE, Evan Engram.  (back)

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