It has taken 3 weeks, but the cream of the NFL Tight End crop has begun to rise to the surface. While some have proven that they are the real deal, like Visanthe Shiancoe and Jermichael Finley, others have not quite lived up to their early high watermarks, like Jermaine Gresham and Todd Heap.
Week 3 was a practical coin toss for the big name players at the tight end position. Tony Gonzalez, Antonio Gates, and the aforementioned Jermichael Finley all went for 100+ yards, while the likes of Todd Heap, Dallas Clark and Vernon Davis barely accounted for 100 yards combined.
The tight end position remains to be one of the most difficult to predict, but some trends have arisen and Week 4 is going to be all about consistency. These guys are fed the ball early, often, and almost always in the Red Zone. With the first Bye Week of the season upon us here are my picks of the week for Week 4.
As a random side note, has anyone ever noticed that tight ends consistently have the greatest names? Where else do you find guys with names like Bo Scaife, Brandon Manumaleuna, Michael Hoomanawanui, Visanthe Shiancoe, or just plain old Jermichael? I mean seriously. Next thing you know there is going to be a tight end lining up for the Browns that is just a random string of Aztec symbols.
|Antonio Gates vs. ARI
|How can the guy not be mentioned? I know it is an obvious choice for fantasy owners out there, but he deserves credit where credit is due. Arguably the best Red Zone target in the league right now, 4 TDs through 3 games, and is going up against a Cardinals team that has yet to face an elite Tight End. The Cards’ biggest challenge thus far: Zach Miller (64 yds and a TD).
This will be trial by fire for the Cardinals secondary and coverage linebackers. Gates combination of size and speed causes matchup nightmares each and every week, and this week is no exception to that fact. Gates will run their LBs ragged and have a big day against the 19th ranked secondary of the Cardinals as he single-handedly attempts to get the Chargers season back on track.
|Dustin Keller @ BUF||Apparently the massive hit he took from Ray Lewis in Week 1 was just enough to wake Dustin Keller out of his fantasy slumber. Ever since that game he has become one of Marky Mark Sanchez’s most reliable pass catchers, hauling in 13 balls for 213 yards and 3 touchdowns. Not too shabby in the least.
Now Keller enters week 4 looking to continue his hot streak against a struggling Bills defense. Last season the Bills secondary was one of the toughest and most reliable units in the league, but now? Not so much. They have plummeted from their #2 ranking last season to 18th against the pass and have had massive issues covering tight ends down the field. Last week the Bills allowed New England’s rookie duo of Aaron Hernandez and Rob Gronkowski to rack up a combined 9 catches (on 10 targets), 108 yds and a TD.
|Jermichael Finley vs. DET||If it weren’t for Antonio Gates catching touchdowns literally every week, you could easily make the argument that Finley has been the best Tight End in the NFL so far this season. His one downside? He simply cannot seem to find the end zone.
After 2 straight 100+ yard games and the Pack needing to make an example out of Detroit, there is a good chance he could be the big winner this weekend. I would be shocked if he doesn’t finally get to do his inaugural Lambeau Leap and continue to rack up big yardage, especially against Detroit’s porous secondary.
|Dallas Clark @ JAX||Coming off an uncharacteristically weak game (5 catches for 44 yards) Dallas Clark and Peyton Manning are bound to bounce back. Although Jacksonville hasn’t given up big games to tight ends thus far in 2010, I see their focus shifting to Austin Collie and Reggie Wayne, which will leave those middle lanes wide open for Clark to run wild.|
And here is who to sit in Week 4:
|Brandon Pettigrew @ GB||At home: 7 catches for 108 yards
Away: 7 catches for 50 yards (2 games)
This week Brandon Pettigrew and the De-Troit Lions travel to Green Bay…outdoors… against the 3rd ranked pass defense in the NFL. Yeah, it’s not happening.
|Todd Heap @ PIT /
Heath Miller vs. BAL
|Two hot defenses against two up and down QBs. The Bengals showed the world that Joe Flacco is not as unflappable as he seems and Charlie Batch is still relatively unproven despite his impressive showing against the Buccaneers screen door defense. This is going to be a battle for sure, but it will be up front in the trenches, neither of these guys will see much of the football in the open field.|
|Chris Cooley @ PHI||Although the season is still young, Chris Cooley’s numbers have been on a steady decline. Thus far he has had 80, 64, and 53-yard games, in that order. His physical decline in yardage isn’t the fact that irks me the most. What bothers me the most is the fact that those weak performances came against some of the weakest secondaries in the NFL like Dallas, Houston and St. Louis, respectively. So what happens when Cooley and the Skins face off against a fast and physical Eagles squad? I’m guessing that decline shall continue.|