As I wrote about earlier this year, Jason Witten completed his gradual fall from weekly fantasy football tight end starter to stream-only option this year. He’s become one of the touchdown-or-bust tight end options. While the future Hall of Famer likely doesn’t mind his diminished role in the offense, it is a significant problem for those looking to roll him out there this weekend against the San Francisco 49ers. While the Niners are winless, they do not make for a positive matchup this week for the consensus #13 tight end (according to FantasyPros.com).
First, Witten’s role in the offense. He has a ton of targets, getting at least nine in three games this year. The other two games, though? Six targets combined. That kind of boom-or-bust targeting can’t be trusted to plug him in on a week-to-week basis. He needs every bit of that large amount of targets because he is the third weapon in the red zone for the Cowboys. He has just two red zone targets since week two, and the Cowboys average just a hair under 30 points in that time frame (so it’s not a lack of the team being in the red zone). His two targets came at the 13 and the 16, meaning he’d have to do a lot of rumbling to get the score. He isn’t even getting within the five, ten or end zone targets. So he’s a pure yardage play at this point.
The matchup makes that proposition a bad play, as the 49ers’ pathetic offense bleeds yardage everywhere except to tight ends. They are thirtieth in total TE yards (209). The two teams behind them, the Bengals and Bucs, both already have had their byes. They are also one of only four teams without a bye who haven’t allowed a TE touchdown up to this point. While they’ve played scrubs like Derek Carrier and Jermaine Gresham, they’ve also shut down Jimmy Graham, Greg Olsen and Jordan Reed.
Witten doesn’t make for a great play this weekend. He doesn’t get the requisite touchdown opportunities to make him a strong start. While he gets a decent amount of yardage, the 49ers do a great job of limiting them. He’s a player better left on your bench (or better yet, the waiver wire) this week. He won’t do enough to justify playing him. But if you need five points, sure, go for it.