Start or Sit Jordan Reed, Vance McDonald, or Kyle Rudolph?
How often do tight ends break our hearts? The position is the proverbial Lisa Turtle to our Screech. We long for it, we need it, but it always lets us down, like that time Jessie took caffeine pills to help her study. Let’s head into week 14 in true Zack Morris fashion by combing back our hair, reading some fantasy advice, and pausing Showgirls every five minutes to see Jessie make a bold career move.
Start or Sit Jordan Reed versus New York Giants
Whether to start or sit Reed has been a consistent yet frustrating piece of the puzzle for fantasy owners everywhere, and though he sees his fair share of targets and is an obviously large piece of Washington’s offense, he simply fails to impress on the scoreboard. The two games he was targeted the least he still pulled in half of them for 21 and 43 yards. He makes something out of nothing every week, and though he has a hard time breaking double digits, his target share is certainly remaining high. His floor has been somewhat high all season, and he finally saw the end zone against Houston in week 11 for the first time since week 1. His lack of targets in the red zone creates a disturbance in the force, but hey, he’s got 167 yards and a score in the last three games. That counts for something. He’s not like Obi Wan necessarily. More like one of those dudes who sit on the Jedi council who have messed up looking heads. The Giants defense against tight ends is right in the middle of the league, but a huge part of that has to do with their containment of the position early on in the season. Through the first five weeks, New York only allowed an average of 44.6 yards to tight ends per game. In the last five games, tight ends are averaging 65.6 yards per game. They only allowed one touchdown to a tight end through the first 10 games, yet have given up two to the position in the last two games alone. Washington is sure to have noticed this trend and will likely give Reed a more involved role in the offense this week. With talks of Reed being the backup quarterback and his high average targets, you can consider him a start this week.
Start or Sit Vance McDonald at Oakland
If deciding whether to start or sit Vance McDonald was a rollercoaster, it’d be the type that would get stuck over and over. It would be kind of funny, but after a while, you just want to get off of that ride. Many owners across leagues gave up on old McDonald midway through the season. He’s had some decent games, but his low receptions through weeks eight and nine certainly didn’t inspire hope in anyone. He came back strong in the next two weeks, posting a touchdown in each game. The tight end position isn’t easy to figure out in Pittsburgh, as Jesse James seemed to be the hot shot for a while. The usage between the two is unpredictable, but Big Ben seems to trust McDonald a bit more than James at this point. McDonald has seen 22 targets through the last four games, hauling in 14 of them for 126 yards and 2 touchdowns. It’s not perfect, but it’s consistent usage, and looking at his numbers shows that he’s been a very consistent target. Oakland is absolutely abysmal against tight ends this season, raking at the bottom of the league in some formats. Kelce torched them for 168 yards and 2 scores last week, and they’ve given loads of tight ends easy yardage all season, even when they aren’t targeted frequently. Vance should have some key roles in the Steelers’ offense this week against Oakland, so consider him a start.
Start or Sit Kyle Rudolph at Seattle
I know, I know. Hear me out. The Vikings offense has been hot and cold all season. From putting up 6 points to scoring 31 in a loss, it’s a wonder how they’ve managed to pull together six wins. Rudolph has been there through all of it, but unfortunately hasn’t had a score since week 3 against Buffalo. After their bye week, it’s obvious Minnesota is changing gears a bit. They’re getting a bit faster. Cook is running well and Rudolph came out of the bye seeing more targets than usual. Chicago was a tough matchup and gave him one of his lowest scores of the season, but he was able to gain 63 yards against Green Bay, who’s in the top three against the position in most formats. Even against New England he was able to convert his three catches into 38 yards. What I’m seeing on Monday Night Football is Rudolph being much more involved. I would expect him to be targeted at least six or seven times, and considering he turns these catches into pretty decent gains, it makes his floor pretty high against Seattle. When considering whether to start or sit Kyle Rudolph, consider this: While they have done well against tight ends, much of Seattle’s luck has come early in the season. They’ve allowed three touchdowns to tight ends in their last four games, allowing an average of 44 yards per game to them as well. The position simply isn’t targeted too often against them, but I’m willing to bet Rudolph finds himself free more often than not. He’s ready this week against Seattle, and I can see some red zone targets coming his way with other receivers getting most of the attention. Consider Rudolph a start this Monday.
Sometimes we have to take chances. It’s not fun doing that with such an important position, but for the most part, it’s important to pick tight ends with low floors. Numbers can be deceiving at times, which is why it’s smart to consider the position and who they’re playing without letting the statistic skew your thoughts. Plays like Rudolph can be extremely rewarding, even if they seem to go against the grain. Good luck to everyone this week!
If there’s a decision to be made between the three, I’d rank them as:
- Jordan Reed
- Vance McDonald
- Kyle Rudolph
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