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Fantasy football start/sit advice, Week 3: Tight ends

Which tight end has the best shot at being productive for fantasy owners this week? We take a look.

Trevor Ruszkowski-USA TODAY Sports

It's hard to be a Rob Gronkowski owner. Fantasy players who drafted him in the first round are surely feeling buyer's remorse at this point. Gronk missed the first two games with a hamstring injury and made his comeback on Thursday night. Even if he's on a snap count, with a rookie third-stringer at quarterback, surely Gronk will get enough red zone looks to help fantasy owners, right?

Nope. One target, zero catches, 14 snaps played, and a lot of broken hearts. Gronk will certainly get back to his TE1 days soon, but this was yet another reminder what a crapshoot the tight end position is in fantasy. For the most part, it's a guessing game as to whether this middling talent or that career journeyman will score a random touchdown. We'll try to do our best guessing here, recommending three players worth a shot and three you should stay away from.

Start

Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions (@ Green Bay Packers)

Ebron always seems to have a mental lapse or two, but he's developing nicely in his third year as the Lions continue to air it out. He would've had a touchdown against the Tennessee Titans last week had the referees not called it back on a phantom offensive pass interference. The Packers' defense is ravaged by injuries so this game has a lot of shootout potential. Ebron can be trotted out as a confident TE1 this week and is a good bet to find the end zone

Clive Walford, Oakland Raiders (@ Tennessee Titans)

The Raiders will need to keep throwing the ball as long as their defense is a mess. That means Walford should see a healthy number of targets again (he had seven last week, for six catches, 50 yards and a touchdown). Oakland should continue featuring Walford as he develops chemistry with Derek Carr. The Titans gave up some big plays to Ebron last week.

Dwayne Allen, Indianapolis Colts (vs. San Diego Chargers)

Phillip Dorsett was a hot waiver add in the wake of Donte Moncrief's injury (he's out 4-6 weeks with a broken scapula), but Allen might actually be the bigger beneficiary. Andrew Luck will have to use him more with Moncrief out and T.Y. Hilton battling through a knee injury. Don't expect a massive uptick in targets, but Allen is a decent dart throw to score a touchdown against the Chargers.

Sit

Antonio Gates, Chargers (@ Colts)

All signs point to Gates sitting out this week. He's listed as doubtful and the Chargers signed a street free agent at tight end, indicating they expect Gates to be out. Even if he's active, Gates hasn't looked good this year and it's fair to wonder if he's running out of gas at age 36. He's no longer a must-own option in 10-team leagues.

Gary Barnidge, Cleveland Browns (@ Dolphins)

Fantasy owners got excited when Josh McCown was named the Week 2 starter, since the McCown-Barnidge connection reaped big rewards last year. Unfortunately, McCown went down with a severe shoulder injury and now the Browns are turning to third-round rookie Cody Kessler. Even with Corey Coleman breaking his hand in practice, Barnidge is shaping up as a wasted draft pick.

Vance McDonald, San Francisco 49ers (@ Seahawks)

McDonald will have some good games this year as long as check-down artist Blaine Gabbert is under center. Good luck guessing when those weeks will come, though. Week 3 is a particularly poor guess going on the road against the Seahawks' defense. Look for higher-floor options this week.