Fantasy Football Tight End Streaming: Week 3 Edition
Crockett Gillmore, ladies and gentleman!
After being decimated by Tyler Eifert in Week 1, I guess we should have known that Gillmore would make it two weeks in a row of tight end domination against the Oakland Raiders. His 5-catch, 88-yard, 2-touchdown line topped even the output from the mighty Rob Gronkowski in all formats last week.
Our good friend Anthony Fasano -- who drove fantasy owners insane with his constant cannibalizing of Travis Kelce's opportunity last season in Kansas City -- even showed up, finishing as the TE3 in PPR formats. And just for good measure, Jake Stoneburner even caught a touchdown.
My recommendations from last week were middling with Jordan Reed representing the high end -- 14.2 PPR points, finishing as the TE6. Ladarius Green and Austin Seferian-Jenkins failed to duplicate their Week 1 successes, finishing as the TE19 and TE 28, respectively.
The tight end position will continue to be tough to predict on a week-to-week basis due to the inherent volatility at the position, but a few trends are emerging that we can look to for guidance.
It’s generally around Week 3 or 4 that we should start to feel comfortable with the sample size of data we have to apply to our decisions. But even after just two weeks, the fog is beginning to lift ever so slightly.
On to Week 3.
Owned – ESPN: 44.8%, Yahoo: 68%
numberFire Positional Rank: 7th
Reed was a pick in last week’s column, and he did not disappoint. With a peach of a matchup this week as well, it’s safe to bank on him once again.
Despite seeing 17 targets in the first two games (29.3 percent of his team’s total targets), Reed is still available in over half of ESPN leagues and almost a third of Yahoo leagues. I don’t expect that to be the case moving forward, so stream him while you can.
According to our Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, Reed ranks 5th in Reception NEP among all tight ends while also owning a 76.47 percent catch rate. The rapport between Kirk Cousins and Reed also appears to guarantee us a floor of five or so targets every game, a very important factor in identifying streaming tight end options. He’s also playing a large majority of his team’s offensive snaps -- 84 percent in the first two games.
Washington travels to the Meadowlands for a Thursday night match-up against the Giants, a team that has absolutely hemorrhaged fantasy points to opposing tight ends. Through two games, the Giants have allowed 16.25 PPR points per game to the tight end position, third worst in the league.
With DeSean Jackson still nursing his injured hamstring, Reed’s opportunity should remain static in Week 3, which puts him in a nice spot to produce.
Owned – ESPN: 9.8%, Yahoo: 15%
numberFire Positional Rank: 11th
Jared Cook has historically been a difficult player to nail down on a weekly basis. He has caused a great deal of frustration for the fantasy community in the past -- myself included -- but because of his matchup this week he needs to be included in the streaming discussion.
So far in 2015, Cook has been fairly middling as far as efficiency is concerned, ranking 12th in Reception NEP per target among tight ends with at least 10 targets, but he has seen 13 targets, tied for the team lead and 22 percent of the team’s market share. Cook also leads the Rams in catches and receiving yards.
This week’s opponent, the Pittsburgh Steelers, is another team that has struggled mightily in defending the tight end position. Pittsburgh has surrendered 20.9 PPR points per game to opposing tight ends through two games. Facing Rob Gronkowski in Week 1 didn't help, but even (the ghost of) Vernon Davis posted a 5-catch, 62-yard line last week.
This game opened tied for the highest over/under of the week (48), with Pittsburgh just a 1.5-point favorite. There should be touchdowns scored here, and Cook is in an excellent spot to carve up a porous Steelers’ pass defense.
Owned – ESPN: 14.6%, Yahoo: 15%
numberFire Positional Rank: 13th
The Bills are a tough team to parse out for fantasy purposes, especially the passing game. With Rex Ryan and Greg Roman calling the shots, we assumed the Bills would be very run heavy. That has come to fruition, and the Bills have called run plays 56 percent of the time during the first two weeks.
And although Tyrod Taylor ranks near the bottom of the league in total passing attempts, he sports a 75.5 completion percent despite throwing 3 interceptions. More importantly, his relatively low 7.8 Adjusted Yards per Attempt (AY/A) leads me to believe Charles Clay will be more likely to see targets moving forward.
Clay has seen 20.9 percent of the team’s total targets and has converted 7 of his 9 targets into catches, including one for a touchdown. He has also played 95 percent of the team’s offensive snaps during the first two weeks and has no real competition at his position.
The Bills travel to Miami in Week 3, setting up a somewhat difficult matchup for Clay. The Dolphins have allowed just 6.5 PPR points to opposing tight ends, but with Buffalo projected to score 19 points and with Clay being involved in a reasonable chunk of the team's passing attack, it’s not unreasonable to think Clay can find the end zone against his former team.