Fantasy Football: Week 3 Streaming Tight End Options

Charles Clay - Miami Dolphins

Sep 15, 2013; Indianapolis, IN, USA; Indianapolis Colts safety Antoine Bethea (41) breaks up a pass intended for Miami Dolphins tight end Charles Clay (82) at Lucas Oil Stadium. Brian Spurlock-USA TODAY Sports

You want to know how I know streaming tight end recommendations is tough action?

Because even locked-and-loaded every-week starting tight ends are terribly unpredictable. See Jason Witten and Jared Cook – who combined for two fantasy points last week – for an example.

The key, I’ve found, is spotting one streamer who stands out above the rest. I’ll always point to three or four options, but I have a slightly better chance at the Power Ball than I do at nailing down a trio of waiver wire options who end the week in the top-12.

Apologies if it wasn’t clear that Dolphins tight end Charles Clay was the surest play of last week’s recommendations. I’ll be sure to clarify that from here on out.

My tight end streamers are averaging 10.3 fantasy points per week, which would make the streaming monster the ninth highest scoring tight end in fantasy.

Player Week 2 fantasy points Ranking
Charles Clay 17 TE3
Kellen Winslow, Jr. 1.6 TE32
Scott Chandler 1.2 TE36

 

Streaming tight ends will only get easier as the season rolls along and stats are collected and culled to within an inch of their numerical lives. The more data, the better.

It’s when we can offer fantasy points per route run (FPPRR) breakdowns that weekly streamers will make themselves known. Rather, the numbers will emerge from the abyss.

 

Charles Clay, MIA vs. ATL

The ninth highest scoring fantasy tight end through two weeks, Clay hasn’t exactly been peppered with targets, but has proven efficient, snagging 10 of the 13 balls Tannehill has thrown his way for 163 yards (16.3 yards per catch). All this after Dolphins coaches said Clay played far too many snaps in Week 1, and that his playing time should be scaled back. It wasn’t. And for good reason.

The potential for goal line vulturing – as Clay did to Lamar Miller and Daniel Thomas last week – makes him all the more appealing in a Miami offense that has involved their tight end as a central weapon. Dustin Keller was going to have this role – sans goal line carries – and thrive in it. Now we have Clay, who is owned in less than 1 percent of leagues on most major fantasy platforms.

Clay is averaging 26.5 routes per game with a sparkling .41 FPPRR. Even if (when) Clay regresses to a .30 FPPRR, he’d be expected to score eight fantasy points per game in standard leagues. That’s less than terrible output for a streaming option.

It’s early – very early – but our favorite streamer, Clay, is on pace for more than 100 targets. He goes up against an Atlanta defense that has given up 12 receptions to tight ends through two games.

 

Vance McDonald, SF vs. IND

This, of course, is contingent on Vernon Davis’s availability after hurting his hammy in Week 2’s blowout in Seattle. Cross McDonald off your streaming list if Davis is slated to play. Otherwise, consider the following.

Indy’s defense has been among the league’s softest against opposing tight ends, allowing 11 points to tight ends in each of their first two games. The Colts’ linebackers, never world beaters in pass coverage, have looked especially vulnerable against athletic tight ends.

Enter McDonald, the surprisingly fast (4.68 40-yard dash) behemoth who stands 6’4” and weighs 264 pounds.

McDonald turned the heads of more than a few 49ers beat writers during OTAs and training camp, displaying his size-speed combination and soft hands. The second-year tight end caught a 19-yard pass from Colin Kaepernick in Davis’s absence last week.

Davis has been targeted 14 times in six quarters of play this season, and unless the 49ers commit to run-first, run-second, run-third mode against the Colts, I think McDonald will have a chance to post a nice stat line.

 

Coby Fleener, IND at SF

Fleener, much like McDonald, doesn’t have a whole lot of value if the second part of Indy’s tight end tandem, Dwayne Allen, returns from injury to face the 49ers.

Fleener, freed from the chains of his route running timeshare against Miami in Week 2, finished as a top-5 option. I certainly would’ve included him in this space if the extent of Allen’s injury had been known before Saturday evening.

Fleener played 42 of the Colts’ 57 (72 percent) Week 1 offensive snaps, and 61 of 73 snaps (83 percent) in Week 2. And more importantly: Fleener ran just 24 routes when Allen was healthy, and 36 routes with Allen on the proverbial shelf. He experienced what we like to call an “opportunity spike” — a critical element of spotting weekly streamers.

San Francisco’s linebackers are excellent in coverage. The defense has held tight ends to 78 yards through the season’s first two weeks, so using Fleener isn’t as much an exploitation of a favorable matchup as it is banking on an opportunity spike, if Allen sits for a second straight game.

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C.D. Carter is a reporter, author of zombie stories, writer for The Fake Football and XN Sports. Fantasy Sports Writers Association member. His work  has been featured in the New York Times.
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