Start of the Week: Owen Daniels at Raiders: Daniels is just about done at 33 years old (next month), but the matchup is just too good for him. The Raiders have been flat-out destroyed by tight ends through four games, giving up 32 catches for 388 yards and six touchdowns. That comes out to over 26 PPR fantasy points per game. Daniels is probably the worst tight end the Raiders will have seen come Sunday, but he’s a really good bet for a touchdown and his normal 4-6 catches for 40-60 yards. Daniels leads the Broncos in red-zone targets at the season’s quarter pole.
Antonio Gates vs. Steelers: Gates is coming back from his four-game suspension this week and expected to regain his starting spot ahead of Ladarius Green. Green should still play, but this is Gates’ job. Especially with Malcom Floyd (concussion) and Stevie Johnson (hamstring) up in the air for Week 5, Gates could step right back into 6-10 targets and be a factor in the red zone. The Steelers gave up four touchdowns to Patriots tight ends in Week 1 and are allowing the fourth-most fantasy points to the position. Make sure Gates is activated before Monday and fire him up.
Delanie Walker vs. Bills: Walker missed Week 2 but came back to catch 7-of-10 targets against the Colts in Week 3. He’s Marcus Mariota’s safety blanket over the middle and is averaging 6.5 targets per game in an offense catered to tight ends by coach Ken Whisenhunt, who played tight end. The Bills have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points to the position. Larry Donnell should have had a much bigger day against Buffalo last week, but is so bulky and immobile that he doesn’t get up field as quickly as others. Walker is a plus athlete. Fire him up as a locked-in TE1.
Charles Clay at Titans: Clay has become Tyrod Taylor’s favorite target. His targets have risen from four to five to seven to 13 in Week 4. He gets a big boost with Sammy Watkins (calf) out of the lineup. Watkins may return this week, but Clay should still get “his” with 6-8 targets, especially if the Bills are forced to throw the ball more if LeSean McCoy (hamstring) and Karlos Williams (concussion) can’t play. The Titans have allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to tight ends. Clay is a top-five play.
Jimmy Graham at Bengals: Graham is hard to sit, considering the price owners paid for him in drafts, but he’s just not getting the job done. No fault to him; the offense just doesn’t play to get Graham the ball at high volume. He has two eight-target games, but combined for six targets in Seattle’s other two contests. Frustration is surely mounting. The Bengals, with fine coverage safeties Reggie Nelson and George Iloka, have contained tight ends through four weeks. A tight end has yet to score a touchdown against Cincinnati. Graham has become extremely touchdown-dependent.
Gary Barnidge at Ravens: I want to get behind Barnidge just because of his name, but I need to see more. He’s reeled in 12 of his 15 targets the past two weeks for 180 yards and two touchdowns. One of those games was against the Raiders, but Barnidge answered with a 6-75-1 Week 4 against the Chargers. He’s a Josh McCown favorite. The matchup isn’t right this week. The Ravens have allowed just eight total catches for 31 yards and zero touchdowns to tight ends across four games. Inside linebackers C.J. Mosley and Daryl Smith, as well as FS Will Hill, are all above-average in coverage.
Larry Donnell vs. 49ers: Donnell is ninth among tight ends in targets with 24, but he’s averaging a pitiful 7.9 YPR. He’s made of concrete with stiff hips and an inability to get upfield. The 49ers have been middle of the road against tight ends, allowing an average of four catches for 41 yards and 0.5 touchdowns per game. Donnell will need to find the end zone to be a success.