Tight end remains one of the shallowest positions in fantasy football. The select few players at the position that regularly produce can generate significant advantages for fantasy managers fortunate enough to roster them.
But while most top-shelf tight ends will appear in fantasy lineups every week in which they play, some games present enough of a challenge to warrant a benching. Miami Dolphins tight end Mike Gesicki will encounter such a matchup this week when his team faces off against the San Francisco 49ers.
The Sit: Dolphins TE Mike Gesicki
Despite playing for an offense in a state of flux at quarterback, Gesicki has produced reasonably well for a tight end through four weeks. He has recorded touchdowns in half of his games while delivering a stellar eight-catch, 130-yard performance against a stingy Buffalo Bills defense. Though his floor remains frustratingly low — he caught just one pass for 15 yards during the Dolphins’ tilt with the Seattle Seahawks — he still provides fantasy managers enough upside to start virtually every week.
The exception comes this Sunday. The 49ers have limited opposing tight ends to just 14 catches for 105 yards all season. That doesn’t account for just starting tight ends but rather all tight ends to line up against them in 2020. No defense has more reliably shut down the position, and that doesn’t appear likely to change this week.
And while Gesicki could conceivably salvage the day with a touchdown, his performance in red zone leaves a lot to be desired. The Dolphins have targeted him six times inside the 20-yard line. Gesicki has converted only two of those into receptions. Some of the fault lies with quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, but the bearded passer will again start this week.
Note: Roster percentages from ESPN Fantasy Football Leagues on Friday, Oct. 9.
The Starts: Eric Ebron (35.2%), Darren Fells (3.1%), Ian Thomas (1.2%)
Despite a cavalcade of talented receiving options, the Pittsburgh Steelers have looked toward Eric Ebron frequently over their last two games. The former first-round pick has 12 targets over that stretch and has converted those into eight catches for 95 yards and a score. Facing a Philadelphia Eagles defense that averages more than a touchdown a game to tight ends, Ebron could have a nice performance in Week 5.
The Houston Texans haven’t used Darren Fells extensively this season — three of his four outings saw him receive just two targets each — but the veteran tight end has gotten some love in the red zone (two targets, one touchdown). With Bill O’Brien finally out in Houston, Fells could re-emerge as a more regularly featured receiver. A matchup with a struggling Jacksonville Jaguars defense doesn’t hurt.
Like Fells, the Carolina Panthers’ Ian Thomas has largely done most of his damage in the red zone. His one touchdown came last week with the offense 2 yards away from the goal line. Thomas draws a favorable matchup with an ailing Atlanta Falcons defense this week, opening the door for a breakout performance.