Fantasy Football: Tight End Streaming Options for Week 1

Detroit Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew
Detroit Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew
Oct 28 2012 Detroit MI USA Detroit Lions tight end Brandon Pettigrew 87 makes a catch in the fourth quarter against the Seattle Seahawks at Ford Field Detroit Lions defeated the Seattle Seahawks 28 24 Andrew Weber USA TODAY Sports

We finally, at long last, get to deploy the strategies we’ve obsessed about for these past eight months.

I’m going to lay out a few tight end streaming options every week for those who did not invest heavily in the position during their various August drafts. If you waited until the 12th or 13th round to take a tight end, there’s no reason for you to commit to one guy as your unquestioned every-week option.

You paid pennies for your tight end; there’s not reason to have a shred of loyalty for him.

A side note: there’s no reason to stream tight ends — play matchups — if you’re in a 10-team league. There are a dozen tight ends who are worthy of every-week starter status, so barring injury, you’ll likely never need to stream the position.

This column will be geared toward those in leagues of 12, 14, and 16 teams.

Read more about streaming tight ends…
Fantasy Football Tight End Streaming: Schedule Exploitation

I’ve seen some misunderstanding of some tight ends who I would consider top weekly options. A lot of Twitter questions this past week have centered around benching Jordan Cameron or Jared Cook. Cook, for one, is going to be an elite red zone option for a team that is going to throw it more than ever.

Cameron could be a target hog in Josh Gordon‘s absence. He’s plugged into the league’s tight end friendliest offensive scheme and he’s shown nice chemistry with quarterback Brandon Weeden. You’re starting Cook or Cameron if you own either one.

Julius Thomas, DEN vs. BAL

Thomas, who was likened last month to a slightly heftier version of Shannon Sharpe, caught 12 of the 14 passes thrown his way in the preseason for 123 yards (10.3 yards per receptions). Thomas ran away with Denver’s starting tight end gig, and has drawn praise from none other than Peyton Manning, who made Dallas Clark a fantasy deity in Indianapolis.

It’s true that Thomas will have to fight for targets in an offense teeming with pass catchers who cannot be ignored. Wes Welker‘s presence in the middle of the field is certainly a ding to Thomas’ weekly value. We’re not rolling with Thomas because he’s going to be peppered with targets, however.

We’re targeting Thomas as a streamer because of the constant single coverage from linebackers who are slower than him and safeties who are smaller than him.

The Ravens are a decidedly bad matchup for any tight end. Baltimore’s defense surrendered the second fewest yards to tight ends in 2012 and the sixth fewest catches. The rare exception: Manning completed nine passes to tight ends for 90 yards in Denver’s 2012 playoff game against the Ravens.

Manning targeted Joel Dreessen and Jacob Tamme a combined 11 times that day.

Zach Sudfeld, NE at BUF

It’s our old friend, Sudfeld, who was the “best all around” player in Patriots training camp last time we checked on him. The un-drafted free agent with frighteningly similar measurables to Rob Gronkowski is now assured of a spot in the New England pecking order. He’s expected to fill the “move” tight end position vacated by Aaron Hernandez.

What kind of opportunity will that leave Sudfeld? Hernandez, in nine 2012 games, averaged 8.9 targets per contest. Tom Brady looked Hernandez’s way 7.7 times a game in 2011.

Brady showed some semblance of trust in Sudfeld during the preseason, completing eight of the 11 balls tossed his way. Sudfeld is owned in 65 percent of Yahoo! leagues. I suspect his ownership will be near 100 percent come Week 2.

Brandon Pettigrew, DET vs. MIN

Pettigrew is a streamer special in point per reception (PPR) leagues this week. His value takes a hit in standard formats, since he does little to nothing once the ball is in his mitts.

Minnesota’s defense, in two games against the Lions last season, gave up 11 catches for 115 yards and a score to Detroit tight ends Pettigrew and Scheffler. The presence of Reggie Bush and the nonstop talk of a rejuvenated running attack in Detroit should sail directly into one ear and out the other. Matthew Stafford will throw 35 passes in this game if he’s upright and conscious for more than two quarters.

Pettigrew is locked in as a solid, if not inspiring, PPR streaming option. He’s owned in 63 percent of Yahoo! leagues.

Owen Daniels, HOU at SD

It’s a long shot that Daniels is available in your 12-team league, as he’s owned in 93 percent of Yahoo! fantasy leagues. Snatch him right this moment if he’s floating around the various corners of your waiver wire.

Daniels averaged 7.2 targets a game last season, drawing a whopping 98 targets, fifth among all tight ends. The Texans could — and should — throw more as questions surround their potent running attack, so Daniels could see an uptick in opportunity this month.

San Diego was tough against tight ends in 2012. Tight ends scored double digit fantasy points just twice against the Chargers, as other skill positions thrived against the unit.

rotoViz’s GLSP projection tool — a highly recommended app — has Daniels’ median projection at a hefty eight points if he sees between 4-10 targets. His high projection is 11.8. Scoop him up if he’s there.

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C.D. Carter Fantasy Football Analyst
C.D. Carter is a reporter, author of zombie stories, writer for The Fake Football and XN Sports. Fantasy Sports Writers Association member. His work  has been featured in the New York Times.