When the leading fantasy tight end of Week 8 plays in less than a third of his team's total snaps, you know that it was a bizarre week to say the least. Making matters worse, just three at the position were able to manage double-digit games in fantasy leagues, putting it in the running for one of the worst of the season when it's all said and done.
For Week 9, there are a few more matchups that present themselves to be better than the misfortunate outputs of the week prior, and owners can likely take pleasure in a bounce-back week. But the biggest thing for owners to keep in mind is that if they struggled at the tight end position of late, they're in the same boat as most of their league. Stay the course, and roll with the players who have helped their respective fantasy teams climb the standings.
WEEK 9 STUDS
Jordan Reed has arrived. Not just as a formidable weapon for the Washington Redskins' offense, but as a TE1 for fantasy owners who were fortunate enough to scoop him up in dynasty leagues and on the waiver wire in redraft leagues.
Over the past two weeks, Reed has blown up, catching 17 passes for 224 yards and a touchdown on 23 targets, all of which lead the Redskins during that time. More encouraging is that in a game where Robert Griffin III struggled, Reed remained a bright spot, putting up 17 PPR fantasy points despite the passing attack hitting rock bottom. The Redskins and fantasy owners should expect a bounce back at home this week versus the Chargers, who have allowed a bulky 8.4 yards per pass attempt this season, which is 31st in the NFL.
If fantasy owners were to be told last week that Jimmy Graham would only play 20 snaps, would they have benched him? Probably, and rightfully so.
However, even with that very snap total, Graham still made his fantasy football presence known by logging his third multiple-touchdown game of the season. Graham left the game experiencing no setbacks from the foot injury that limited him to a dozen-and-a-half snaps, and though he will not necessarily be in line to resume his full workload, Graham ought to get more work in than he did in Week 8. Even if Graham only plays in third-down and goal-line situations once again, being a part of a high-octane Saints offense makes him every bit worth the start. That especially rings true considering the fact he will face a Jets defense that just got torched for 35 points by Andy Dalton and the Bengals.
When the Browns last played the Ravens, Jordan Cameron did not have much of a chance to be featured, as then-quarterback Brandon Weeden targeted his athletic tight end just seven times. With time to study the film of that Week 2 matchup, there's no reason for Jason Campbell to make that same mistake, as Cameron caught five of those targets for 95 yards, including a 53-yard catch-and-run that put the Browns in business.
The modest target total is something that Cameron has been accustomed to over recent weeks, but with a catch rate hovering at 73 percent on the season, he is converting his chances at an elite rate. Even with erratic quarterback play, Cameron has capitalized, and there's no reason to assume that will change this week at home versus a Ravens defense that has allowed the eighth-highest point total to tight ends in PPR leagues.
WEEK 9 DUDS
Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears (vs. Green Bay Packers):
There's no denying Martellus Bennett's consistency from a week-to-week basis thus far, but those days could be coming to an end with Josh McCown under center. When McCown took over for Jay Cutler in Week 7, he moved the ball with ease versus a porous Redskins defense on the road; however, it's troubling that Bennett caught just one pass in the process. McCown is not Cutler, and though primary weapons in the Bears offense like Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte should not see much of a change in value, secondary targets like Bennett could be in for a rough time until Cutler returns.
Though the Packers have allowed nearly 74 yards per game to opposing tight ends, it's a risky matchup for fantasy owners to take part in. Expect a boom-or-bust output, with the scales leaning toward bust.
There's some hype surrounding Coby Fleener this week, as Reggie Wayne's torn ACL will pave the way for involvement of other pass-catching weapons on the team. Fleener fits into that category, but it would be an upset if he was able to make much of his chances this week. Despite the team's struggles, the Houston Texans boast one of the stingiest defenses when it comes to covering tight ends, allowing 35.6 yards per game to them. That's second-best in the NFL, and it presents a matchup that will make it difficult for Fleener to dispel criticism in fantasy leagues and in the "real" league itself. He is a high-end TE2 in Week 9, and owners could do much better than starting the Colts' "move" tight end this week.
Let's take a look at the top 25 tight ends for Week 9: