Please raise your hand if you drafted Charles Clay, Coby Fleener, Garrett Graham, or Clay Harbor. I don't see any hands, and that's because you would've been mocked at your draft if you described most of these players as a possible full-blown fantasy starter. However, all four of these guys were top-12 tight ends in Week 2. Meanwhile, the rich and famous Tony Gonzalez, Vernon Davis, and Jason Witten all finished outside the top-20 at tight end this past week. Volatility is found at every position in football, but 2013 has brought unseen depth to the tight end position. If you don't have Jimmy Graham locked into your starting lineup, it might be time for you to sail the tight end stream.
Week 3 Streamers
Coby Fleener, Indianapolis Colts (owned in 9.2% of ESPN Leagues)
Coby Fleener, formerly known as the guy from Stanford who isn't Andrew Luck, finally had fantasy owners take notice with 68 yards and a touchdown in Week 2. His receiving net expected points per target climbed to .72 (a metric describing how many real points are being added on received targets), an impressive number considering top tight end Jimmy Graham finished last season with a receiving NEP per target of .67. Enhancing Fleener's already-rising value is the season-ending hip injury to complementary tight end Dwayne Allen.
So now that Fleener becomes the man at tight end for Indy, what does that mean for his fantasy numbers? In 2012, Fleener and Allen, or "Flallen" as I like to call this two-headed tight end, combined for 71 catches, 802 yards, and five touchdowns. There's no reason Fleener can't match those numbers, and he's currently on pace to surpass them. Fleener has a year of NFL experience under his belt, and the "eye test" tells me that he's more comfortable with the pro game as a second-year player. He has great familiarity with quarterback Andrew Luck, who he has teamed with in both college and the pros.
Things are even more familiar for Fleener now that his offensive coordinator at Stanford, Pep Hamilton (Who the heck names their kid Pep?), has taken over as offensive coordinator. Fleener was featured as a pass catcher in college, and we have begun to see some of the same in the Colts' new offense. The addition of Trent Richardson, and the fact that defenses must now respect the Colts' rushing attack can only open up space for Fleener to get open. We project that Fleener has the same odds to score a touchdown in Week 3 as Jermichael Finley. Fleener's a top streaming target for Sunday.
Brandon Pettigrew, Detroit Lions (owned in 44.3% of ESPN Leagues)
Pettigrew has not impressed thus far with 5 catches for 38 yards and a negative NEP over the first 2 games. However, streaming isn't about what you've done for me lately; it's about what are you going to do for me this week.
Visualize an open meadow, with acres of space to freely roam. Now you know how tight ends feel when they face the Redskins' Swiss-cheese secondary. The Skins yielded 56 yards and a touchdown to Brent Celek in Week 1 and 65 yards and a touchdown to Jermichael Finley in Week 2. Two games doesn't constitute a trend, but it does give tight end streaming owners a viable option in Detroit. Pettigrew could also benefit from Reggie Bush's up-in-the-air status this week. Even if Bush suits up on Sunday, he could easily see less targets than usual, opening up more opportunity for Pettigrew.
Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert, Cincinnati Bengals (owned in 12.4% and 10.8% of ESPN Leagues respectively)
No, you're not allowed I count them as one player; that would be cheating. But can't both players have value? It wasn't so long ago that Gronk and his alleged murderer teammate were starting in every fantasy league out there, so there's reason to believe that two tight ends on the same team can find value at the same time.
Gresham and Eifert had nine and five targets respectively in Week 2, and there is reason to believe that these numbers will increase soon. A.J. Green was targeted 14 times in Week 2, but had Pittsburgh backs draped over him all game. He finished with only 41 yards on six catches. As teams continue to blanket Green, opportunities will increase for our dynamic duo. Gresham went for 66 yards on six grabs on Monday and Eifert matched him with 66 yards on three catches. Both tight ends have a receiving NEP per target of more than .50, which means they are solid contributors in Cinci's offense. I'd take Gresham if both are available, but either one is a strong streaming play against Green Bay.
Charles Clay, Miami Dolphins
Brent Celek, Philadelphia Eagles
Zach Miller, Seattle Seahawks