*All statistics/projections are based on ESPN Standard Rules for PPR leagues*
1) Darren Waller
Yes, I am aware Darren Waller mustered a measly two catches against the Patriots last weekend. Although, the Pats are known for stopping the opposing teams’ top strength. Against the Raiders, it became clear they were determined to lock down Waller as they frequently had defensive backs travel with and cover the athletic tight end.
The week prior, Waller had 12 grabs on 16 targets which went for 100+ yards and a touchdown. After last week’s dud I would bet my left kidney that the Raiders study the game film relentlessly, determine methods for combatting the Patriots defensive tactics (in case other teams try to replicate them), and return to feeding their top pass-catcher. Remember: Waller led the Raiders in receiving with 18 catches for 150 yards over the first two games and faces a Bills D that has allowed the 9th-most points to TEs through the first three weeks.
2) Zach Ertz
The only thing hindering Zach Ertz from performing like a top-5 TE so far has been the Eagles stagnant offense and ceding target share to Dallas Goedert. One of those problems has been eliminated for the time being as Goedert has been placed on IR with an ankle injury.
Ertz’s increased role paid dividends last week as he received ten targets resulting in seven catches for 70 yards. While the 49ers have actually been the 2nd-worst matchup for fantasy TEs through three weeks, the Niners’ offense has gone on a scoring barrage despite their injuries. A high-scoring affair will force the Eagles to keep throwing as well.
Expect Ertz to return to one of Wentz’s favorite targets with a struggling offense and with Goedert out.
3) Travis Kelce
Kelce would be the undisputed leader on this list if he was playing any other team than the Patriots. Given the fact that the Patriots just finished holding Darren Waller to two catches, owners might want to look elsewhere for this week if you have an embarrassment of TE riches and somehow have Waller or Ertz.
However, Kelce has been the #1 fantasy TE so far and is once again a top option this week. In the Chiefs offense with his volume, he is a must-start every week. He has a high ceiling and a high floor which can’t be said for any other fantasy TE at the moment. Kelce’s worst statistical performance of 2020 came last week when he led the Chiefs in receiving yards and recorded a season-long gain of 29 yards. He finished with 87 yards and six catches on seven targets against the Ravens in Week 3.
Mahomes’ first TD pass of the season to Kelce ?
— Bleacher Report (@BleacherReport) September 11, 2020
Owners can likely expect a similar performance out of fantasy’s #1-ranked TE in Week 4 regardless of a difficult matchup.
4) Jonnu Smith
With Delanie Walker gone, Jonnu Smith was set to explode in 2020. So far, he is the #2-ranked TE, has scored three touchdowns through three weeks (matching his career-high for a season), scored double-digits in every performance, and has received no less than five targets in each game.
His productivity and consistency is rare for the position, and his role is similar to Mark Andrews. Like Andrews, Smith is the #1 TE in one of the league’s top run-first offenses. This means plenty of red zone opportunities and plenty of targets as he often finds the opening in the coverage when defenses oversell on a Derrick Henry run. A physical freak at 6′ 3″, 247 lbs., Smith’s snap count will continue to be in the stratosphere as he is a capable blocker as well and often looks like a power forward running around a football field.
EASY MONEY! @Easymoney_81
— Tennessee Titans (@Titans) September 20, 2020
Smith led the Titans with eight targets on Sunday and appears to be in the midst of a fourth-year breakout, as he’s already accrued 20 targets — nearly half of his previous season-best. Once A.J. Brown (knee) is able to return, we will see what Jonnu Smith’s true value is. Although, Smith has shown good chemistry with quarterback Ryan Tannehill through three games.
5) Mark Andrews
After a 22-point Week 1 outing, Andrews disappointed owners in back-to-back weeks, scoring just nine combined PPR points over the span. He sits firmly at fifth here because despite his recent lackluster stats, he is still the #1 TE in one of the league’s best run-first offenses. Often, the Ravens line up with three TEs which makes Andrews and Marquise Brown the only two real viable pass catchers on the play save for a dump-off to a running back.
Furthermore, Andrews’ stock is bolstered this week via a matchup against Washington. Through three weeks, Washington has allowed the fifth-most fantasy points to TEs and has allowed over 57 yards per game to TEs, setting up Andrews for a rebound performance.
— Baltimore Ravens (@Ravens) September 13, 2020
Andrews at least led Baltimore in targets against the Chiefs, setting a new season high in the category. Following back-to-back down performances, Andrews should be desperate to return to his best form in Week 4.
Notes for TEs Just Outside the Top 5
6) Noah Fant
- #3-ranked fantasy TE through three weeks
- Has received no less than five targets per game
- Coming off a 10-target week
- Plays the horrendous Jets in Week 3
7) Tyler Higbee
- #4-ranked fantasy TE so far
- Starting TE in a good offense
- Received tons of targets towards the end of 2019
- But most of his 2020 production is due to his three TDs and 28-point performance against a terrible Philly D
8) Jimmy Graham
- #7-ranked fantasy TE
- Received 7+ targets in two of his three games
- Coming off a 24-point and 9-target week
- Might be returning to old form with Nick Foles at QB
- But last week’s performance could be an outlier since the Bears were forced to throw due to the score/time
- Plays the Colts this week who are the worst fantasy matchup for TEs (allowed the least points)
9) Mo Alie-Cox
- #10-ranked fantasy TE
- Exploded for 111 yards in Week 2
- Huge and athletic target for Philip Rivers
- Coming off back-to-back double-digit weeks
- But volume is questionable as he received three or less targets in two of his three games
10) T.J. Hockenson
- #9-ranked fantasy TE
- Received at least four targets in each game
- Plays the Saints in Week 3 who have allowed the most fantasy points to TEs
- Has a high floor
- But might have low ceiling as his best performance was Week 1 when he had five catches for 56 yards and a TD