Tight ends have been changing for a while now. They’ve been getting faster, better hands and route running, impossible for linebackers and even safeties to cover, and just more offensive minded than in the past. Of course this is pretty much old news, but Sunday was a bonanza for fantasy tight ends. There have been 13 games so far and 15 touchdowns for tight ends. Let’s take a look at a few of the highlight games.
Jimmy Graham – The Reverend’s season has been slowed down by an ankle sprain, but the bye came at an opportune time and he only lost a couple games. And this Sunday was his third game in a row with a touchdown as he went off, catching seven receptions for 146 yards and two touchdowns. His competition for best fantasy tight end, Rob Gronkowski, caught his fifth touchdown in his last three games, but had a relatively slow week for his standards, catching three passes for 31 yards and that touchdown. So Graham now has 45 receptions for 533 yards and seven touchdowns, while Gronk has 46 receptions for 611 yards and eight touchdowns. They are the cream of the crop once again and it will be a race to the finish to see who comes out on top.
Tony Gonzalez – The old man just keeps on keeping on. He has been in a mini slump, with no touchdowns or games over 42 yards receiving over the previous three games, but he broke out in a big way against the Saints porous defense. His 11 receptions for 122 yards and two touchdowns was his best game since 2004.
Gonzo is second in receptions (61), first in yardage (617), and third in touchdowns (6) for tight ends, so why don’t I have him in the Gronk/Graham conversation? Well, I probably should, but the loss of Julio Jones for part of Sunday’s game was a big part of Gonzo’s uptick in looks and the Saints pass defense has trouble defending passes. I’d actually look to sell high on Gonzo if you can get Gronk or Graham in a two for one deal.
Greg Olsen – The outlier monster tight end game came from Greg Olsen this week. His nine receptions for 102 yards and two touchdowns mark his first regular season game over 100 yards and his best all around game ever. Olsen has gone through some ups and downs this season, but he’s had his three best receiving yardage games in his seven-year career and is averaging the sixth most fantasy points per game.
Some other positions did some damage as well this week. Let’s take look-see shall we? Shall we!? Ok.
Adrian Peterson – has 1,128 yards rushing on 195 attempts for 5.8 yards per carry and seven touchdowns. That extrapolates to 1,804 total yards and 11 touchdowns. That would be the most yards rushing and yards per carry he has ever had. Are you kidding me? I don’t know what else to say about how amazing he’s been coming off his injury. This week he was having a tough game against the Lions at the half, but of course broke a few long runs in the second half and finished with 171 yards rushing and a touchdown. In the last four games, Peterson is averaging 157 yards rushing per game with five total touchdowns.
Calvin Johnson – Megatron caught 12 passes for 207 yards and a touchdown against the Vikings and is now on pace for 106 receptions for 1,731 yards and 3.5 touchdowns. That would be a high in receptions and yards and obviously a low in touchdowns. Last season he had eight touchdowns in the first four games of the season. He can go on a touchdown tear at any time.
Danario Alexander – Alexander is an amazing talent, with an amazing amount of knee surgeries. On Sunday he started the game by hauling in an 80-yard touchdown and finished it with five receptions for 134 yards. I am rooting for him, but he’s shown this ability followed by knee swelling on too many occasions.
Steven Jackson – If this column weren’t all about fantasy, Jackson would be the headliner for sure this week. He had a very good fantasy day, but how he did it was the epitome of who he’s been as a player his whole career. Facing a monster 49ers rush defense, he ran like a possessed bull, tearing through the defense for 101 rushing yards and a touchdown along with 26 yards receiving. He’ll most likely go down as a great running back who never had the supporting cast to elevate him to his full potential.
Danny Amendola – The PPR king is back! He caught 11 passes on 12 targets for 102 yards and had an 80 yard receptions called back for illegal formation in overtime. All those Wes Welker comparisons that people scoffed at repeatedly, let’s stop scoffing.
Joe Flacco – Flacco had thrown for four touchdowns in his last five games before this week, so on cue he tosses 341 yards and three touchdowns. He has had games like this before and he’ll have them again, but predicting exactly when they’ll happen is risky business. But this is his upside and it’s not a fluke, but neither are his 153-yard efforts such as last week’s at Cleveland.
Matt Ryan – Ryan threw for 411 yards and three touchdowns on a healthy 52 attempts and 34 completions. That’s his career high for yardage and the first time he’s hit the 400-yard mark. He’s always had to try to keep up with the Saints so his top yardage games have been against them and he’s averaging 295 yards passing in the eight games he’s faced them. That’s not too shabby considering early in his career he wasn’t allowed to throw the ball that much. He has fully stepped into his fantasy quarterback big boy shoes and they fit nicely.
Andy Dalton – Dalton, much like Flacco, is a streaky fantasy contributor, but when you throw for four touchdowns in a game for the first time in your career, you get a game ball. He amazingly didn’t top 200 yards passing, but was efficient in completing 21 of 30 passes for 199 yards and the aforementioned four touchdowns. This was also the first game of the season he didn’t throw an interception, so I’d say this was one to hang his hat on.
Philip Rivers – This is the second efficient game in a row for Rivers, and his best fantasy game of the season. He completed 26 of 31 passes for 304 yards and three touchdowns. That 84% completion percentage, coupled with last week’s 90% is about as good as it gets. That’s 44 for 51 in his last two games for a crazy 86% completion percentage. That ain’t too bad.