Chris Wesseling

Waiver Wired

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Replacing Hernandez

Tuesday, September 18, 2012


Aaron Hernandez owners, I feel your pain. As the new offensive focal point and the best player in Patriots camp this summer, Hernandez was poised for a monster season before going down an ankle injury in the first quarter of the Cardinals game. I had drafted him as my tight end in all redraft formats this year.

 

Likely reeling from a Week 2 fantasy loss thanks to Hernandez's goose egg, owners have to turn to the waiver wire or the trade block for a replacement. Although regular readers of this column may have pulled the trigger on Dennis Pitta or Martellus Bennett a week ago, the two remain unowned in over 60 percent of Yahoo leagues.

 

As the "move" tight end in Baltimore's up-tempo offense, Pitta is leading all tight ends in targets and receptions. He's obviously earned Joe Flacco's trust. Bennett is behind only Vernon Davis, Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski in fantasy points, and only four tight ends have been targeted more frequently.  

 

If Pitta and Bennett have already been snatched up in your league, it's not a bad idea to work the phone lines for a trade. I wouldn't buy low on Fred Davis, who appears to be an afterthought in the RGIII offense, but two options that may be available for a decent price are Kyle Rudolph and Brandon Pettigrew.

 

Rudolph has yet to "arrive" on the scene nationally while playing every snap, but there's still plenty of breakout potential in an offense that will score more points than commonly believed. Pettigrew is heading to Tennessee to square off against a defense that has allowed five passing touchdowns in two games -- all to tight ends. 

 

On to the players. Here is how I rank the top players at each position as we head into Week 2. Full write-ups of each player are below.


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Tight Ends

Dennis Pitta

Martellus Bennett
Dustin Keller
Brandon Myers
Kellen Winslow
Dante Rosario

Running Backs
Andre Brown
Mikel Leshoure
Pierre Thomas
Rashard Mendenhall
Daryl Richardson
Bilal Powell
Mike Goodson

Wide Receivers
Austin Collie 
Greg Little 
Brian Hartline
Donnie Avery
Julian Edelman
Damaris Johnson
Golden Tate
Andrew Hawkins

Quarterbacks
Matt Cassel
Alex Smith
Sam Bradford
Christian Ponder
Jake Locker

Team Defense
Dolphins
Bills

Tight Ends

Dennis Pitta, Ravens - Emerging as Joe Flacco’s go-to receiver, Pitta leads all tight ends in targets and receptions through two weeks. As the “move” tight end in an up-tempo offense, Pitta’s TE1 production appears to be here to stay. In his last five games going back to Week 17 of the 2011 season, Pitta is averaging 8.6 targets, 5.2 receptions and 54 yards with three scores.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Martellus Bennett, Giants - Already featured heavily in the red zone, Bennett could have had a monster Week 2 game had he reeled in two end-zone passes that hit his hands. Big and athletic, Bennett is more than just a blocking specialist. Eli Manning targeted his tight end a whopping ten times versus the Bucs. Only Pitta, Jimmy Graham, Brent Celek and Owen Daniels have been targeted more frequently through two games. Bennett is fourth among tight ends in fantasy points. He needs to be rostered in all leagues.

Recommendation: Should be owned in all leagues.

Dustin Keller, Jets - Keller’s ownership is down to 40 percent in Yahoo leagues after missing Week 2 with a setback in his hamstring injury. Keep an eye on his practice participation this week. If it looks like he’s going to play at Miami, Keller is worthy of a roster spot for those owners desperate at the position.

Recommendation: Should be owned in 12-team leagues.

Brandon Myers, Raiders - Drafted out of Iowa in 2009 as a blocking specialist, Myers has shown better hands than expected going back to his first training camp. Although he’s taking on a bigger role in Greg Knapp’s West Coast offense, Myers’ 11 targets are tied for 16th among tight end through two games. He’s just a low-end TE2 going forward.

Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.

Kellen Winslow, Patriots - Winslow will be joining the Patriots pending the outcome of his physical, but expectations for a fantasy impact should remain low. With no experience in Josh McDaniels’ offense, Winslow will have a tough time earning snaps as the second tight end in New England. He’s going to be well behind Rob Gronkowski, Brandon Lloyd, Wes Welker and Julian Edelman in the pecking order.

Recommendation: Worth a look in deeper leagues.

Dante Rosario, Chargers - A long-time special teamer and backup, Rosario had five career touchdowns in five seasons before finding the end zone three times versus the Titans. He’s headed back to the bench once Antonio Gates returns from his rib injury, likely this week. Hold off on adding Rosario until Gates’ Week 3 status is known.

Recommendation: Worth a look only in the deepest of leagues.


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Chris Wesseling is a senior football editor and Dynasty league analyst for Rotoworld.com. The 2011 NFL season marks his fifth year with Rotoworld and his third year contributing to NBCSports.com. He can be found on Twitter @ChrisWesseling.
Email :Chris Wesseling



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