Dose: Toning the Tight End

Adam Levitan
Dose: Jimmy Graham Unhappy?
Nick Mensio checks in on Jimmy Graham, Andre Ellington, Eddie Lacy, Eric Decker, and many others in Wednesday's Dose

No Gronk or Jordan Reed. Jordan Cameron (concussion) and Garrett Graham (hamstring) are far closer to doubtful than questionable. Tony Gonzalez and Coby Fleener have awful matchups. The tight end landscape has turned into a certifiable mess for fantasy’s Super Bowl week.

The majority of questions I’m getting this week are from owners either thinking about starting Kirk Cousins over (insert low-end QB1 here), or owners in desperation mode at tight end. The first thing you can do is refer to Pat Daugherty’s Week 16 rankings here. I’m going to give my take on the desperation tight end options in this space.

*First of all, if Delanie Walker is available, he’s the no-brainer plug-n-play. The only team worse than defending tight ends than Arizona is Jacksonville.
* The next step is to try to add Dennis Pitta. The biggest thing we lose with the Gronks and Camerons is the ability to have a difference-making game from the tight end spot. So many of the TE2s just lack big-play ability. Pitta, on the other hand, is a red-zone monster that plays like a “move” tight end. His ceiling is high as I think the Ravens exploit the Patriots slowish linebackers with Pitta – and win the game.
* After that, it gets real shaky. My pick would be Ryan Griffin, who just might be more talented than Garrett Graham. Griffin played on every single snap in Week 15, responded by catching all six passes that came his way and now gets to play with Matt Schaub – who loves throwing to his tight end in the red zone. Moreover, the Broncos project to get a lead early in this one, meaning lots of comeback and garbage-time opportunities for Griffin.
* The last plug-n-play I’d look to is Zach Miller. His rib injury is not a concern and he gets to face Arizona’s league-worst defense in Seattle. I think the Seahawks blow the Cardinals out, it’s just a question of how many looks Miller will get.

Yes, I’d play these four over Scott Chandler (no upside), Zach Ertz (Eagles will have a run-heavy gameplan), Andrew Quarless (a blocker at heart) or Marcedes Lewis/Joseph Fauria (too touchdown dependent).


The Packers didn’t make an official announcement on Aaron Rodgers (collarbone) Thursday, but the signs were not good. Matt Flynn took the first-team reps and A-Rodg has not gained medical clearance yet. Even if he is officially cleared, it’s possible the organization will still hold him out – even though they are two wins away from a home playoff game.

Coach Mike McCarthy said an announcement will come on Friday, so we won’t have to take this up to game-time. I’d be very surprised if Matt Flynn wasn’t under center for Sunday’s home game against the Steelers.

In other superstar injury news, Wes Welker (concussion) is out of Week 16. It’s no surprise. Although he doesn’t have any documented concussions before this season, I’d wager plenty that he suffered at least a few while with the Patriots. This year, he’s had two in a four-week span. A third one anytime in the next month would put his season – and his career – in jeopardy. So holding him out is a no-brainer move even if he had medical clearance.

Andre Caldwell is fully expected to step in as the No. 3 wideout once again. In Week 15, he played on 68.5 percent of the snaps and posted a 6/59/2 line. The risk in plugging him in again is two-fold: He lacks difference-making talent and he’s still the No. 4 option in the passing game. But the upside is that he’s playing a ton of snaps with Peyton Manning, and that leads to upside. I’m not using Caldwell in any FanDuel spots (because I think there are better values out there), but I would take a WR3 flier on him if I thought I was a big underdog in a regular fantasy game.

Both Adrian Peterson (ankle) and Toby Gerhart (hamstring) remain on track to play in a tough spot at Cincy Sunday. … Daniel Thomas (ankle) isn’t practicing, putting a little pep in Lamar Miller’s step for now. … Maurice Jones-Drew (hamstring) remained out of practice. Jordan Todman is a fine RB2. … Carson Palmer (ankle) will play Sunday, but is a terrible QB2 at Seattle. … Donald Brown (stinger) will be fine to share the workload with Trent Richardson Sunday. … Zac Stacy (hip) feels better than he did at this time last week.

Michael Floyd (ankle) is practicing in full, but I’d never want to use him at Seattle. Larry Fitzgerald (concussion) is going to play also, but he’s just a WR3 for me. … Jermaine Gresham (hip) is practicing in full. So much for that Tyler Eifert idea. … Victor Cruz is done for the year. I’ve talked about how much I like Rueben Randle’s Week 16 plenty. … Jordan Reed (concussion) is done for the season. I love him as a player, but I fear this could be a Jahvid Best situation. Reed had two concussions at Florida.

Joseph Fauria is expected to see a major role increase with Brandon Pettigrew (ankle) doubtful. He’s still not athletic enough to be more than a red-zone player. … Aaron Dobson (foot) is expected back, which could impact Danny Amendola’s snap count.