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We bring you the Sunday Six Pack, an article featuring six of the biggest storylines heading into each and every week of the season. Keeping tabs on these events will keep you prepared and informed throughout the season – just don’t drive within six hours of reading this.
- Sympathy for Gronkowski
Please allow me to introduce myself, I’m a man of wealth and TDs. Rob Gronkowski bye week is the saddest day of the year. The one true dynasty Tier 1 TE’s off-week creates despair and discontent on Fantasy TE Island. But now the Patriots have emerged from their one week hibernation and Gronk may return victorious to our fantasy lineups. His dominance of the TE field is so complete that in three games, Gronk is still the PPR TE1 and over six points ahead of Travis Kelce. This is buoyed by still being first in both receiving yards and TDs among TEs. Gronk’s 19.3 average yards per reception is over four yards higher than number two on the list among TEs with at least ten receptions. His dominance is simply staggering. While the Cowboys have only given up an average of 8.7 PPR FPs to opposing TEs so far this year, they haven’t faced anyone that is even in the same hemisphere of Gronk (Larry Donnell, Zach Ertz/Brent Celek, Jacob Tamme/Levine Toilolo and Ben Watson/Josh Hill). No other position in fantasy offers such an advantage over the field and Gronk is only 26. There’s a compelling argument to be made that he should be in the conversation for the dynasty 1.01. Jason Witten hasn’t been too shabby lately either and currently sits as the dynasty TE3. While he certainly gets a downgrade as long as “not Tony Romo” is playing QB for the Cowboys, his talent, the lack of Dez Bryant and his target volume (eight targets per game) make him a high end TE in a very diluted field.
- Travis Kelce Can’t Always Get What He Wants
Andy Reid gives you your fair share of abuse. So the good news is that Kelce is the PPR TE2 through two weeks just as all of us Zeus truthers expected. His seven targets per game leave him tied for seventh among TEs with Jordan Cameron. What is disappointing is that Kelce has just five red zone targets through four games and is being targeted on less than 20% of Alex Smith’s passing attempts. Unfortunately Andy Reid’s conservative playcalling and Smith’s limitations will keep Kelce from joining Gronk in the first tier of fantasy TEs. The solace is that the immense talent is there and Kelce is a good bet to survive well past the Reid/Smith era in Kansas City. The Bears are giving up an average of 8.8 PPR FPs to opposing TEs through four games, but dished out seven receptions for 83 yards and a TD to Jimmy Graham in Week 2. Martellus Bennett has actually been a little disappointing,checking in at only the PPR TE7 through four weeks as the only real non-RB pass catching option on the Bears during Alshon Jeffery’s absence. He had a ridiculous week against the Raiders last week (11 receptions for 83 yards and a TD on 13 targets), but the Raiders can’t cover TEs. The Chiefs are right around the Bears statistically in covering TEs, but they also haven’t faced a TE as talented as Bennett yet (unless you count Tyler Eifert, and I don’t).
- This May Be the Last Time (You Can Start Owen Daniels)
It’s too much pain and too much sorrow. Week 1: Bengals v. Raiders: Tyler Eifert: nine receptions for 104 yards and two TDs on 12 targets. Week 2: Ravens v. Raiders: Crockett Gillmore: five receptions for 88 yards and two TDs on six targets. Week 3: Raiders v. Browns: Gary Barnidge: six receptions for 105 yards and one TD on ten targets. Week 4: Raiders v. Bears: Martellus Bennett: 11 receptions for 83 yards and one TD on 13 targets. So that leaves us with TEs averaging 7.8 receptions for 95 yards and 1.5 TDs against the Raiders this season. Owen Daniels has certainly been underwhelming this year as the TE21 coming into Week 5, but this matchup almost makes him a must start. Peyton Manning has been just a low-end QB2 through four weeks. The biggest problem is his inconsistency. Two good games against the Chiefs and Lions are sandwiched in between two duds against the Ravens and Vikings. I’d rather start a guy like his brother, Eli Manning, who at least has been fairly consistent since his anomalous TD-less Week 1 outing against the Cowboys. The same is actually true for Derek Carr, although I would not start him against the beastly Broncos defense. The Broncos are eighth against the run and first against the pass so far. Amari Cooper and Latavius Murray are startable based on volume, but I’d temper expectations.
- Beast of Barnidge
Am I hard enough? Am I rough enough? As a former card-carrying member of Team Rob Housler, it’s been hard for me to accept the rise of Browns TE Gary Barnidge. I have to give Barnidge his due, however, as he’s currently the PPR TE9 and has a real chemistry with QB Josh McCown who has played well the last two weeks over the quieting calls for Johnny Manziel. Barnidge has seen 16 total targets in those two games, averaging six receptions for 90 yards and a TD. He’s got a tougher matchup this week against a Ravens defense that has defended the TE well, but based on his useage, I’d still be comfortable starting him as a low-end TE1 over TD dependent guys like Richard Rodgers or Larry Donnell. It looks like Ravens TE Crockett Gillmore will miss his second straight game with a calf injury. (Brandi) Maxx Williams showed us last Thursday night that we can’t trust him as a starting option and he should continue to split TE duties with John Boyle. Kamar Aiken looks to take Steve Smith’s place as the Ravens target hog while Smith is dealing with microfractures in his back. He makes an intriguing high-volume WR3 candidate while Smith is out.
- Street Fighting Graham
[inlinead]Hey! Think the time is right for a Seattle revolution. Seattle TE Jimmy Graham is ranked a disappointing 12th among TEs in targets through four weeks. He has however, converted 18 of his 23 targets into receptions — a stellar 78.2% — and has caught two TDs. He’s clearly disappointed in his role, right along with his fantasy owners. The most frustrating part has been the target pattern – 8, 2, 8, 5. Two targets in a Week 2 loss against the Packers is simply criminal. Especially with Marshawn Lynch dealing with hamstring and calf injuries, Graham is easily the most dynamic weapon at Russell Wilson’s disposal. While it’s true that the Seahawks don’t throw the ball that much (Wilson is 18th in the league in passing attempts), they need to make a more concerted effort to get the ball to Graham. Compare the percentage of targets to their top TE in New England (21.0%); Carolina (28.1%) and Dallas (23.7%). Even poor Travis Kelce has been targeted on 19.6% of Alex Smith’s throws. 18.1% for Jimmy Graham is just too low. Unfortunately, this will need to be corrected before Graham can be relied on as an every-week TE1 (everyone’s nightmare after the trade). Tyler Eifert on the other hand, has been targeted on 20.7% of Andy Dalton’s throws and has the benefit of working underneath the shadow of AJ Green. Seattle has actually allowed the seventh most receiving yards to TEs this season so far. While he’s no guarantee to outscore Graham this week, I’d feel more confident starting Eifert over Graham this week.
- Gimme Walker
If I don’t get some fantasy points, yeah, I’m gonna fade away. Titans TE Delanie Walker has played just two games this year due to a hand injury, but in those two games is averaging a healthy 13.5 PPR FPs per game, good enough for tenth in average points per game. It will be interesting to see if the rumored rise of Dorial Green-Beckham takes away from Walker or Kendall Wright but my gut says that the reliable TE will still be a nice security blanket for rookie QB Marcus Mariota. Buffalo has actually given up the fifth most receiving yards to TEs so far this season, so it’s a good matchup for Walker. I’m starting him without hesitation and would even consider him as a FLEX if I had a better option at TE given injury and bye week concerns. Charles Clay continues to produce, especially in the absence of Sammy Watkins. Currently the TE4, Clay is a must start against a Titans defense that has given up an average of 16.2 yards per catch to opposing TEs.