Every year we try to convince ourselves that Tyler Eifert won’t be hurt and miss significant time, and every year Tyler Eifert laughs in our faces and casts curses on our fantasy football teams. This year, however, there exists a viable replacement for the Tyler Eifert role in the Bengals offense. This time, it’s been filled by another Tyler. Tyler Kroft, the heir to the Kraft Singles empire, has done work in Eifert’s absence. Will he continue to do that this weekend?
Over the last four weeks (due to a bye, this is only three Bengals games), Kroft is among the big boys in fantasy points per game. He is fourth, behind Zach Ertz, Cameron Brate and Rob Gronkowski (Kelce rounds out the “averaging double digits” club). Even with all the buzz Evan Engram, Darren Fells and ASJ have received, Kroft is out there outscoring all of them. Granted, he’s scored three touchdowns in three games, which isn’t sustainable. Or is it?
The Tyler Eifert “Role” includes tons of touchdown-creating targets. Eifert played in only eight games last year, and had just 47 targets—six were within the “ten zone.” He turned that into five touchdowns, in eight games. When Eifert took over his full-time role in 2015, he averaged a touchdown a game. That means five touchdowns in eight games was only a slight regression in 2016 from a crazy 2015 campaign. That suggests the role in the offense can produce sustainable fantasy football production. Kroft isn’t as amazing as Eifert, but he can certainly play that role and continue the trend of scoring touchdowns more often than not.
And this weekend is going to be one that fits into the “more often” category, as the Bengals host the trash garbage Indianapolis Colts football team. The Colts allow the ninth-most fantasy points to tight ends on the season, including four touchdowns to tight ends in their last five games (and if the Titans were the Titans and not an injured mess in their game, I would bet Delanie Walker would have had one, too).
Tyler Kroft isn’t extremely highly ranked this season, mostly due to him coming in as the backup to a much more ballyhooed Tyler, and Cinci’s struggles in the first couple of weeks. He’s slipped nicely into the Eifert role, which means beaucoup touchdown opportunities. You don’t have to worry about the Colts slowing him down, but you may have to worry about Joe Mixon taking all the touchdowns.