Week 8 of the NFL is in the rearview mirror and we’re here to find the best tight end pickups for Week 9 to keep you motoring down the highway toward the fantasy football playoffs. As usual, tight end is a desolate landscape on the waiver wire, but there are players out there who can get you through the lean times.
We’ll take a look at players who are available in the majority of ESPN fantasy football leagues. There aren’t any high FAAB adds this week, but there is talent out there with room to grow.
Jonnu Smith, Tennessee Titans (.5 percent)
Delanie Walker is super old. Well, he’s 35, and he has injured the same ankle that ended his season last year. Walker could return and take over as the starting tight end as early as this week, but we caught a glimpse of what his backup Smith can do over the last two weeks, as he’s caught 9-of-10 targets for 142 yards and a touchdown with Walker out and Ryan Tannehill starting. He’s no lock, but he has good upside if Walker remains out or the team starts to ease the second-year pro into starter’s usage.
Chris Herndon/Ryan Griffin, New York Jets (25.4 percent/.3 percent)
The wait for Herndon to return has grown unbearably long and while we waited, Griffin went off with four receptions for 66 yards and two touchdowns against the Jaguars. Herndon should be close to returning as he was upgraded from out to doubtful and participated in limited practices this week and he will be reinserted as the starter once he returns. The Jets’ tight end, whoever that may be, gets a great matchup against the Dolphins this week, who rank 31st in defensive DVOA against the position. Herndon is the pick for the long term and possibly this week as well, but if it looks like he’ll miss again, Griffin will have appeal as a streamer.
Darren Fells, Houston Texans (12.5 percent)
Fells has given us useful fantasy football totals in four of his last six games, with those games coinciding with a Texans’ wide receiver missing time. Kenny Stills’ injury earlier this year pushed Fells into a larger role and now Will Fuller’s injury has done the same. In Week 8, he was a key component in Houston’s victory over Oakland, as he caught all six of his targets for 58 yards and two touchdowns. His six targets were second to DeAndre Hopkins, while his 90 percent snap rate was his highest to date. This week he’ll face a Jaguars’ defense that has given up the twelfth-most fantasy points to tight ends, including two touchdowns to Jets’ backup Ryan Griffin last week.
Dallas Goedert, Philadelphia Eagles (24.5 percent)
Goedert has found the end zone in back-to-back games and has 17 targets to Zach Ertz’s 18 targets over the last three weeks while getting his most significant snap usage last week with 90 percent. This week he’ll take on a Chicago defense that has been middling against tight ends, ranking 15th in fantasy points allowed and as long as Darren Sproles and DeSean Jackson remain out, Goedert should continue to see worthwhile work.
Cameron Brate, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (.9 percent)
Brate didn’t put up the fantasy numbers many hoped he would with O.J. Howard out, but he was third on the team in targets with six, behind Mike Evans and Chris Godwin. With no other receiver stepping up other than their two studs and Jameis Winston’s connection with Brate in the red zone, there is hope for him to have fantasy value on a team that will continue to pass often due to their inept pass defense getting them into holes. The main question is, if O.J. Howard will return, as he might be traded.