The tight end position is having an extraordinarily weak year in fantasy football, and things won't get any better with the bye weeks starting up. Fortunately, fantasy owners don't have to worry about losing any top tight ends to byes this week (Jared Cook and Zach Ertz are injured anyway), and there is some light at the end of the tunnel with Rob Gronkowski close to full health and Tyler Eifert coming back soon.
But for Week 4, fantasy owners are mostly stuck playing a guessing game again unless they happen to have a top-shelf player like Greg Olsen, Jordan Reed or Travis Kelce. So with that in mind, let's navigate the tight end minefield this week and pick out three recommended starters, along with three you should probably avoid for this week.
Hunter Henry, San Diego Chargers (vs. New Orleans Saints)
Forget about Henry's crippling, game-losing fumble last week. Remember his five catches on all five targets for 72 yards instead, playing 60 snaps in place of an injured Antonio Gates. Gates is still out this week, so Henry has juicy upside against the Saints' nonexistent defense.
Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts (vs. Jacksonville Jaguars)
Somehow, Doyle has emerged as Andrew Luck's preferred tight end target over Dwayne Allen. He had six catches for 65 yards last week, both season highs and suggesting that his Week 1 outburst might not be such a fluke after all. Or maybe it is, knowing the nature of tight ends this season. Regardless, Doyle is a decent dart throw against the Jaguars' mistake-prone defense in London.
Dennis Pitta, Baltimore Ravens (vs. Oakland Raiders)
Pitta's career looked like it was over after dislocating his hip twice in two years. Now he's back and one of Joe Flacco's most trusted weapons, going up against the Raiders' surprisingly porous defense. We like Pitta's chances of being a borderline TE1 for the rest of the season.
Julius Thomas, Jaguars (vs. Colts)
Thomas is dealing with an elbow injury and likely won't play on Sunday. Even if he's active, fantasy owners can't trust him right now. The Jaguars' offense is dysfunctional and Blake Bortles is a trainwreck right now. You can find safer options at your TE spot this week.
Charles Clay, Buffalo Bills (@ New England Patriots)
With Sammy Watkins out, you figure that Clay will be Tyrod Taylor's main safety valve most weeks. However, the Patriots know that as well, and will likely plan to take Clay out of the game with no serious playmakers left in the Bills' passing game. Clay is only a Hail Mary play if you don't have any better options.
Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (vs. Denver Broncos)
Brate is now the starter after Austin Seferian-Jenkins got released last week, and he got 10 targets and two touchdowns against the Los Angeles Rams. That stat line seems like a fluke, and Brate will likely come back to Earth against the Broncos' suffocating defense. Brate will be a worthy streaming option during the bye weeks, but he's in a tough spot here.