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Fantasy Football Week 8: Streaming Tight End Options

C.D. Carter identifies tight ends with the most exploitable week 8 matchups.

Detroit Lions tight end Joseph Fauria

Everything told us to deploy Jordan Reed last Sunday.

The rookie’s snap count, pass routes, and targets had risen steadily as he usurped Fred Davis as Washington’s starting tight end. Coaches talked up Reed, his quarterback had nice things to say about him, and perhaps most importantly (as mentioned here), Reed was facing a depleted defense that was among the most generous to opposing tight ends since mid-September.

Detroit Lions tight end Joseph Fauria

Oct 20, 2013; Detroit, MI, USA; Detroit Lions tight end Joseph Fauria (80) catches a pass during the first quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Ford Field. Mandatory Credit: Tim Fuller-USA TODAY Sports

In case you missed it, Reed posted nine receptions for 134 yards and a score against the Bears. He was fantasy’s top-scoring tight end by a giant margin.

It’s what streaming is all about: identifying favorable circumstances begging for exploitation and trusting the numbers instead of giving in to our love of psychological comfort.

Those who grabbed Reed for the waiver wire last week have the best of both degenerate worlds — you cashed in on an obvious streaming play last week, and you have a clear-cut top-10 tight end for the remainder of 2013. The same happened for those who plucked Julius Thomas from the wire before his Week 1 explosion.

It’s something beyond mind-boggling, however, to see Reed’s fantasy ownership sit around 25 percent. I’m not sure if that means half of fantasy owners have checked out, or if they’re cool with starting Jared Cook and Kyle Rudolph every week because, you know, they drafted those guys in August.

Let’s get into Week 8’s best tight end streamers.

Jordan Reed (WAS) vs. Denver Broncos

Back to our guy, Reed. The matchup nightmare — far too speedy for linebackers and too physical for safeties — caught nine of nine targets last week, improving his catch percentage to 74 percent. That’s nuts, for the record.

Reed, since taking over as the Washington starter, has secured 13 of 15 targets, as he’s become far more than a check-down option for Robert Griffin III. Reed was Washington’s slot receiver for much of his time on the field against Chicago. Most encouraging was the team’s usage of Reed near the end zone: he was split out wide, matched up in single coverage that Griffin III seemed confident he could beat.

Denver, among its many defensive deficiencies, is more than generous to opposing tight ends. Tight ends have piled up more than 100 receiving yards in four of Denver’s seven games. The only reason the Broncos aren’t among the three worst teams against tight ends is because they’ve played several opponents whose tight end has no real role in the offense.

Reed’s Week 8 fantasy floor is undeniably high. I have him as a top-10 play.

Tyler Eifert (CIN) vs. New York Jets

I’m a bit wary of recommending Eifert (available in 95 percent of leagues), and it has nothing to do with his ability. His opportunity is still terribly limited thanks to the plodding, stone-handed wonder that is Jermaine Gresham.

Eifert is only running 20.4 pass routes per game, not nearly enough to post consistent numbers. Gresham, somehow, is running 28.7 routes per contest. Until that flips, Eifert is a borderline streaming option.

I should not that Eifert has a fantasy points per route run (FPPRR) of .23, a more than respectable number that saw a big boost from his three-catch, 45-yard, one-touchdown performance at Detroit last week.

The Jets appear to be strong against tight ends, but a closer look shows that Gang Green shut out tight ends against the Bucs in Week 1 — before Tim Graham emerged as a passing-game threat — and New England in Week 2, when the Patriots had abandoned any and all tight end usage.

Heath Miller caught six passes for 84 yards against he Jets the week before Rob Gronkowski tormented New York for 114 yards on eight grabs. Eifert’s matchup is right, even if it doesn’t appear that way.

Joseph Fauria (DET) vs. Dallas Cowboys

The big dancing wonder was targeted four times last week against the Bengals, including two end zone targets. I don’t see Fauria becoming a target hog by any means, but the Lions decision to cut Tony Scheffler on Tuesday tells us that Fauria is going to be a consistent part of Detroit’s attack.

Dallas has allowed the fourth most fantasy production to tight ends this season, giving up at least four grabs in every game. The Cowboys’ linebackers have struggled in pass coverage through large swaths of 2013. That might not matter a lot for Fauria, who will remain touchdown dependent until he runs more routes between the 20s. Fauria’s eye-popping .78 FPPRR is unsustainable, yet amazing.

I have Fauria as a top-16 Week 8 tight end option.

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