The tight finish position is speedily threatening to turn out to be a fantasy black hole. Hunter Henry and David Njoku are injured. George Kittle and O.J. Howard are off to slow begins. And quite a few other major-ranked guys have lost their quarterbacks.
So, we’re kicking off this week with a status verify on quite a few major tight ends, asking ESPN’s NFL Nation reporters to price the level of concern for their fantasy worth from 1 to 10.
George Kittle, San Francisco 49ers. Level of concern: two. Understandably, these who have Kittle have been disappointed he didn’t contribute a lot more in a game in which his group racked up 572 yards and scored 41 points final week in Cincinnati. But believe of the extended game right here. Kittle is clearly the 49ers’ largest threat and the one particular opponents are operating to quit the most. So possessing a game such as that, in which the operating backs and rookie wideout Deebo Samuel developed large numbers, must only support open items up for Kittle — who also began slow final season, ahead of going on to break NFL records. The slight concern has to come from the truth that Kittle has had most of his results without having Jimmy Garoppolo at quarterback. But Kittle is nevertheless acquiring lots of targets, appears to be establishing chemistry with Garoppolo and has had two touchdowns referred to as back for penalties — which if they counted possibly would have rendered this query unnecessary. Bottom line: Kittle is as well excellent to not bust loose sooner rather than later. — Nick Wagoner
Evan Engram, New York Giants. Level of concern: two. The switch from Eli Manning to Daniel Jones shouldn’t do considerably to alter Engram’s fantasy worth. He nevertheless is one particular of the couple of weapons the Giants have and will be targeted lots. Jones produced undrafted rookie tight finish C.J. Conrad appear dominant with the second-group offense all through the summer season. Jones must have no challenge feeding Engram. In truth, the switch could possibly even lead to a lot more large plays with Jones’ arm and aggressiveness. — Jordan Raanan
Vance McDonald, Pittsburgh Steelers. Level of concern: three. It really is an admittedly little sample size, but McDonald’s fantasy worth could improve in a Mason Rudolph-led offense. With Rudolph at quarterback in the second half of Sunday’s loss, McDonald had 4 catches on 4 targets, which includes two touchdowns — the initially multi-TD game of his profession. Rudolph threw only two TD passes to tight ends in his college profession at Oklahoma State. But he has targeted tight ends 10.three% of the time in preseason games, according to NextGen Stats. That is nevertheless a drop-off, even though, from Ben Roethlisberger, who targeted tight ends 16.five% of the time because 2017, with 11 of his 62 TD throws going to them. — Brooke Pryor
O.J. Howard, Tampa Bay Buccaneers. Level of concern: five. Howard’s early struggles are a function of his personal overall performance and this coaching staff’s track record for not constantly possessing the tight finish involved (tight ends saw a total of two targets final week). In coaching camp, Howard looked like a dominant player poised to take the subsequent step. But in Week 1, he had a rough game, with the ball bouncing off him for an interception and a fumble at the 49ers’ eight-yard line. Then in Week two, he saw zero targets, even though he did serve as a crucial blocker. When coach Bruce Arians was asked about Howard’s lack of production, he mentioned, “You’d possibly have to ask him. He’s got so considerably talent and he can play a heck of a lot improved than he’s playing.” The whole Bucs offense wants to boost. But if it does, Arians believes Howard just wants to “keep playing” and the “balls will come” — some thing offensive coordinator Byron Leftwich echoed. — Jenna Laine.
Jared Cook, New Orleans Saints. Level of concern: five. Cook’s fantasy worth shouldn’t automatically nose-dive just due to the fact Drew Brees is sidelined for the subsequent six weeks or so. In theory, Cook is the great sort of large, midrange target to present a good security valve for backup Teddy Bridgewater — who did target him 5 instances final week, with two completions for 25 yards. But I’m slightly concerned in basic that Cook’s slow begin hasn’t lived up to the lofty possible he displayed on the practice field in OTAs and coaching camp. So I count on an unpredictable mix of large games and quiet ones all through the season. — Mike Triplett
Eric Ebron and Jack Doyle, Indianapolis Colts. Level of concern: 7 for Ebron, five for Doyle. 1 factor the Colts have proved so far this season is that they will regularly attempt to run the ball (they rank second in the NFL with 370 rushing yards) and not force the passing game. This is the opposite method from when Andrew Luck and Peyton Manning have been the franchise quarterbacks, so the tight ends have not had as large of an effect in the passing game, so far, as they did final season. 1 of the items that coach Frank Reich and offensive coordinator Nick Sirianni talked about throughout coaching camp was that players would have to make sacrifices due to the fact of the depth they have at the talent position spots. And be warned: Sunday’s game does not appear like a excellent passing chance for the Colts, due to the fact the Falcons have offered up an NFL-low 167 yards per game by means of the air. — Mike Wells
Now for the rest of our weekly tour about the league:
Bowen: Eight preferred picks
Karabell: RB tiers | WR tiers
Schefter: Worth picks and sleepers
Clay: My draft board | 13 breakouts
Arizona Cardinals: It has been pretty the win-win connection among 22-year-old QB Kyler Murray and 36-year-old receiver Larry Fitzgerald, so far. Murray referred to as Fitzgerald a “security blanket,” and Fitzgerald is off to the very best begin in his 16-year profession, wrote Josh Weinfuss.
Baltimore Ravens: Lamar Jackson ran for a profession-higher 120 yards final week. But as soon as once more, Jackson showed off his passing capacity with a great 41-yard throw when the Ravens trusted him in a essential third-and-11 predicament, wrote Jamison Hensley.
Hensley also wrote about the good connection Jackson has formed with a tight finish who is in fact tearing it up early this season, Mark Andrews.
Cincinnati Bengals: Joe Mixon took the blame for his “terrible” performances this season, telling reporters they can contact him the “peon.” Coach Zac Taylor mentioned the blame clearly falls on the whole offense. Either way, they know they have to get it fixed.
Denver Broncos: Second-year operating backs Royce Freeman and Phillip Lindsay have played 72 snaps apiece this season. As Jeff Legwold wrote: “While that figures to be a supply of consternation for fantasy football nation, it is the Broncos’ program.”
Green Bay Packers: Operating back Aaron Jones can support initially-year coach Matt LaFleur’s offense break out from its early-season blahs –- specifically if he keeps acquiring involved in the passing game, wrote Rob Demovsky.
Kansas City Chiefs: It appears like anyone can be a star in Kansas City’s offense, wrote Adam Teicher. Final week, it was receiver Demarcus Robinson’s turn.
Los Angeles Rams: WR Cooper Kupp appears completely recovered from final year’s torn ACL. And QB Jared Goff mentioned they are proper back to getting “so considerably on the exact same web page,” as Lindsey Thiry wrote.
Minnesota Vikings: Coach Mike Zimmer insisted the Vikings “have the utmost confidence” in quarterback Kirk Cousins. They think his dismal game final Sunday was a lot more of an anomaly than a cautious trend, according to Courtney Cronin.
Chris Berman and Tom Jackson recap the weekend’s games with extended highlights and evaluation. Watch on ESPN+
Also from Cronin: RB Dalvin Cook is carrying the Vikings, but their challenge is to preserve him for the season.
New York Jets: QB Sam Darnold is feeling improved and targeting a Week five return, per Wealthy Cimini.
Oakland Raiders: Rookie RB Josh Jacobs currently has won more than his locker space, per Paul Gutierrez, thanks to his early results and his tough-operating style.
“We know he’s particular,” quarterback Derek Carr mentioned. “If you are a small kid and you appreciate the Raiders and you are a operating back, I’d obtain his jersey, due to the fact he’s going to be about a extended time.”
San Francisco 49ers: Recall how excellent every person believed that pairing among coach Kyle Shanahan and QB Jimmy Garoppolo would be, ahead of Garoppolo tore his ACL final year? Effectively, we saw it come with each other in a large way final Sunday, as Wagoner wrote.
Seattle Seahawks: Rookie DK Metcalf is the large receiver Pete Carroll constantly wanted, wrote Brady Henderson.