The TE position is thin this season, but there’s still value to be had. Here are some position battles/injuries to monitor as Week 1 approaches:
Depth: Clive Walford, Mychal Rivera, Lee Smith
The Raiders have a whole bunch of nothing at TE, but with Derek Carr and the offense expected to take a huge step forward, someone should reap the benefits playing alongside Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Walford is projected as the starter, but Rivera has a history with Carr and has scored nine times in his three year career (all with Oakland). Smith was an addition from the Bills that’s getting some chatter as an emerging player. I’m not advising you use any of these guys for fantasy purposes, but let’s see if any of the three make a name for themselves early on and go from there.
New York Giants
Depth: Larry Donnell, Will Tye, Matt LaCosse
Tye actually outproduced Donnell last season, but played in more games. With Donnell injured, Tye emerged late in the season, scoring a touchdown in three of the Giants’ final four games. It looks like Donnell is going to win the starting job, but this is likely a situation to avoid. Both guys will be out there sharing the snaps, and Manning will often be looking to OBJ and the rookie Shepard anyway.
Green Bay Packers
Depth: Richard Rodgers, Jared Cook
Rodgers is still holding on to the top spot on the depth chart despite the addition of Cook. He did snag eight touchdowns last season from Aaron Rodgers, after all. Cook came off the PUP list just over two weeks ago now, and reports indicate that he and Aaron have been building some very good chemistry. This is a “wait and see” type of situation. It’s clear both of these guys are going to have roles in the offense, but keep an eye out for one of them getting a leg up. Considering the QB they play with, it’d be worth having the potential clear-cut top option on your radar.
Depth: Tyler Eifert, Tyer Kroft, C.J. Uzomah
Eifert will miss at least the first couple of games of the season, while Kroft is expected to play in the opener. This leaves Uzomah, who’s been playing extensively in preseason but still hasn’t recorded a catch. In short, things aren’t looking good. Eifert is a fantastic red zone option when he returns, and it’s worth considering Kroft while he’s out. But the big beneficiary here has to be rookie Tyler Boyd (a WR) who should be the Bengals second option behind A.J. Green in Week 1. The fact that I have to recommend a WR in a TE article shows how rough the TE position is to begin the season.
Depth: Ladarius Green, Jesse James, Paul Lang, David Johnson
Green is on PUP and there are questions around whether or not he will even see the field this season. We’ll find out, but for now we know he won’t be playing anytime soon. Not exactly what Pittsburgh was hoping for as a Heath Miller replacement. If the Steelers are unable to make a move, James will be a nice bargain as the starter. Johnson and Lang will battle for the backup role, but none of these guys have more than three catches or 15 yards this preseason…
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Depth: Cameron Brate, Austin Seferian-Jenkins
Finally! Some clarity! ASJ is the name we know. He’s performed in the past (338 yards and four touchdowns in seven games last season) and leads the Bucs in receptions this preseason (five for 46 yards). However, it’s Brate’s name at the top of the depth chart. ASJ will still be a part of the offense, and his role could grow based on the production we’ve seen from him. But every report indicates that Brate has grown into one of Winston’s favorite targets.
Depth: Jimmy Graham, Luke Wilson
It’s no secret that Graham has fallen off a cliff since being traded to Seattle. In his four year stretch as the starter in New Orleans, Graham racked up 4,396 yards and 46 touchdowns while missing just one game. In his first year as a Seahawk, Jimmy managed a a mere 605 yards and a pair of scores in 11 games. Now it’s uncertain if Graham will even be ready for the start of the regular season, which leaves room for Wilson to show what he can do with more volume. Wilson’s never had much of a stage, but he’s averaged at least 12.5 YPC in each season of his young career. He could wind up being a big playmaker for Seattle.
New England Patriots
Depth: Rob Gronkowski, Martellus Bennett, Clay Harbor, A.J. Derby
There’s no debate when it comes to the starters here, but the Patriots are really going to feature tight ends this season. Gronk will be Gronk, health permitting, but that doesn’t mean you should rule out Bennett. I actually like him better than most team’s TE1 for fantasy purposes. He has five catches for 59 yards so far this preseason and should be an early target for Garoppolo to focus on due to his size and the thin/beat up WR core. Even A.J. Derby has performed well in preseason with a team leading nine catches for 118 yards and a TD. This is going to be a productive position beyond Gronk all season for New England, even after Brady returns.
Find me on Twitter @julianedlow
I am a promoter at DraftKings and am also an avid fan and user (my username is jedlow) and may sometimes play on my personal account in the games that I offer advice on. Although I have expressed my personal view on the games and strategies above, they do not necessarily reflect the view(s) of DraftKings and I may also deploy different players and strategies than what I recommend above.