New England Patriots tight end Zach Sudfeld‘s Week 1 performance — or lack thereof — is a case study in how making decisions based on available information can backfire, and backfire badly.
Sudfeld, one of our Week 1 streaming tight end targets, was simply left out of the Patriots’ offensive game plan against Buffalo. He ran a grand total of 10 pass routes. He didn’t draw a single, solitary look from Tom Brady.
Sudfeld, an un-drafted rookie free agent, was among Week 1’s least fantasy relevant tight ends.
There was no possible way of knowing that Sudfeld was a waste of space on your various fantasy football rosters, of course. Teammates, coaches, and beat writers talked up the rookie as a key ingredient to the Gronkowski-less New England offense. Sudfeld was involved in every preseason game, looking impressive in limited opportunities.
Pegging him as an ideal streaming option made sense, but only because we weren’t in the Patriots’ locker room. We might have guessed — but we could not have known — that wide receiver Julian Edelman would be Brady’s primary target outside Danny Amendola.
The only thing fantasy footballers can do, as I may have mentioned once or twice, is make the best decisions based on available information and trust that, in the end, we’ll slice through luck’s machinations and win more than we lose.
Here’s a run down of our four streaming options from Week 1.
Now on to Week 2’s streaming tight ends.
Scott Chandler, BUF vs. CAR
EJ Manuel, in his regular season debut, targeted his lumbering tight end six times. They connected on four of those throws for 38 yards. It’s not those numbers that jump off the screen as much as it is Chandler’s Week 2 matchup against a Carolina Panthers defense that was so-so against tight ends in 2012, and allowed three catches for 48 yards to Zach Miller last week.
Probably we shouldn’t consider Chandler anything more than a top-20 Week 2 play, but for those stuck with Sudfeld, Chandler’s six targets look mighty fine. Chandler was tied with C.J. Spiller and Stevie Johnson for the most targets among Buffalo pass catchers.
Another tidbit of good news: Chandler ran 28 pass routes against New England, playing in 29 of the Bills’ 32 pass plays, according to Pro Football Focus. Chandler wasn’t asked to block once against the Patriots; decidedly good news for us.
Kellen Winslow, NYJ vs. NE
It’s important not to write off any streaming option, even ones with the knees of a 90 year old who seemed a long shot to make final roster cuts. Winslow, who displayed remarkable chemistry at times with rookie Geno Smith in the season opener, is a legit streaming option in Week 2.
Winslow hauled in seven of the eight passes thrown his way against Tampa Bay, piling up 79 yards and a score. Only six tight ends scored more fantasy points in Week 1.
Winslow ran an encouraging 31 pass routes — 17 of those from the slot. Tight end is a focal point of the Jets’ new offensive scheme, as beat writers have reported all summer. All they needed was someone to fill the role.
rotoViz’s GLSP projection app forecasts Winslow for a median score of 6.7 standard league points against the Patriots, with a ceiling of 11.7 fantasy points. You could do a lot worse this week.
Charles Clay, MIA at IND
Clay served as Ryan Tannehill‘s security blanket in the season opener, catching all five of the passes that came his way for 54 yards. Clay strikes me as a better streamer in point per reception (PPR) leagues, as most of his opportunities will come on underneath passes, and he’s not nearly the kind of player who can turn a short pass into a long gain.
Clay’s 27 pass routes are a little concerning, since a guy like Clay needs some sort of volume to retain value, and you won’t see volume unless you run a bunch of routes.
Dallas Clark, BAL vs. CLE
Clark did criminally little with the massive opportunity he was given on opening night, when he drew 12 targets (a league high) and ran an eye-popping 50 routes against the tight end-friendly Denver defense. Clark dropped the surest touchdown of his career while the game was still in doubt.
Ed Dickson, however, looked even worse, so it’s reasonable to expect Clark to retain the primary tight end duties for the moment.
Cleveland’s linebackers gave up 11 PPR fantasy points to Clay in Week 1. The Browns’ run defense is more than stout; I think it’s reasonable to project Flacco to throw quite a bit in Week 2. Opportunity — not talent or game-breaking ability — is the reason we’re targeting Clark as a streamer.
The rotoViz GLSP app projects a median PPR score of 8.9 points for Clark this week, with a high of 15.2.