PHOENIX (AP) Anyone with a tight end on a bye week can attest to how agonizingly difficult it can be to find a suitable replacement, especially in a season where no one at the position besides Rob Gronkowski is really setting the world on fire.
In past years, fantasy players could count on Julius Thomas, Jimmy Graham and Antonio Gates for double-digit touchdowns. This year, the cupboard is barer.
Sure, there have been some solid performances from players like Greg Olsen and Travis Kelce, and Graham is starting to show some signs of life in Seattle. But the challenge of remaining competitive at the position will be difficult going forward as bye weeks start this week (depriving many Gronkowski owners of their best player). So here are five tight end plays that can help you weather a bye week:
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He and Peyton Manning haven't looked all that comfortable together through three weeks, resulting in Daniels being 49 percent owned in Yahoo! Leagues. It's not surprising - he has racked up a paltry 52 yards on 10 catches. But it sure felt like something started to click with Manning and the new offense installed by Gary Kubiak in the second half of their win over Detroit, punctuated by a Daniels touchdown catch in the fourth quarter. He could easily have a breakout game as Manning's comfort level grows with the new scheme and the tight end Kubiak brought to Denver.
You have to think that if the Colts want to truly right the ship after their 1-2 start, they will find a way to work their tight ends into the game plan. With Dwayne Allen injured, Fleener saw some more targets in Indianapolis' win over Tennessee, even if it was for just 51 yards. But they have what should be a nice matchup with Jacksonville this weekend, a team the Colts have outscored 134-30 in their last four meetings.
No one saw this one coming. The longtime backup picked up 105 yards against the Raiders on Sunday. It's hard to imagine he keeps up a similar pace, but he's an option in a pinch now that he seems to be a go-to target for Josh McCown in Cleveland. His performance also raises questions about whether offenses are exploiting a weakness in the Raiders defense with the tight end position. Oakland had trouble stopping Crockett Gillmore of Baltimore the previous week
Speaking of Crockett Gillmore (which may be one of the best names among NFL players), the Baltimore tight end situation is worth monitoring. After his two-touchdown breakout game against Baltimore, Gillmore was limited to 40 yards against Cincinnati and went out with a calf injury. His replacement is rookie Maxx Williams. Neither tight end is going to be your first option, but one has to think Baltimore will find some options for the tight end spot with so few choices at wide receiver beyond Steve Smith Sr.
Antonio Gates returns from his four-game suspension Oct. 12 against the Steelers, giving owners one more choice at tight end. Gates' backup, Ladarius Green, missed Week 3 with a concussion. Julius Thomas remains injured, but his return is a top priority for the Jaguars organization given the money he is making and the team's struggles through three weeks.