How to find tight end gems in shallow waters
Nothing ruins a fantasy football season quite like a rash of injuries to your team. You could have done all the research in the world, had the most spectacular draft of all-time and been the favorite to win it all this year, but a run of injuries can turn your entire season into a treacherous, uphill climb.
With most trade deadlines having passed, scouring the waiver wire is your only recourse, and trying to find a way to replace players such as Mark Andrews and Dallas Goedert becomes an exercise in futility.
But we always can find ways to dig deeper for replacements.
If you use Andrews on Thursday, your starting point for replacing him is fellow Ravens tight end Isaiah Likely. Though he didn’t record a catch Thursday night after Andrews was lost to a severe ankle injury, Likely immediately steps in as a must-own in fantasy.
Lamar Jackson has long focused on feeding his tight end the ball, and offensive coordinator Todd Monken has done little to change that in this offensive scheme.
Before Week 11, Andrews was averaging seven targets per game with two double-digit target efforts, and those numbers should immediately shift to Likely.
With upcoming matchups against the Chargers and Rams, he should prove to be a fantastic option.
Should you be unable to acquire Likely, or need someone for this week, there are still a number of serviceable tight ends who, according to ESPN and Yahoo, are owned in fewer than 40 percent of all leagues.
You should be exploring Steelers tight end Pat Freiermuth, who is coming off IR this week, and Tampa Bay’s Cade Otton.
Freiermuth should see a respectable target share upon his return, and Otton has been seeing a 95 percent snap share and has four red-zone targets over the past two games.
You also can explore a pair of rookies in Luke Musgrave and Michael Mayer. Musgrave plays 75 percent of the snaps and averages 4-5 targets each week, and Mayer has seen a steady increase in work over the past several weeks, surpassing incumbent tight end Austin Hooper.
Though it is unlikely either will bust out with a big 100-yard effort, they can remain steady producers over the duration of the season.
The pickings at tight end are pretty slim, but you can take solace in the fact that few people have a tight end with whom they are totally comfortable.
Even Travis Kelce managers find themselves disappointed every so often.
The key is to keep plugging away to find a serviceable replacement.
Howard Bender is the head of content at FantasyAlarm.com. Follow him on X @rotobuzzguy and catch him on the award-winning “Fantasy Alarm Radio Show” on the SiriusXM fantasy sports channel weekdays from 6-8 p.m. Go to Fantasy-Alarm.com for all your fantasy football advice.