Posted: 1:10 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 10, 2013
By Dan Ciarrocchi
Last week, fantasy owners prayed for predictability after having Coby Fleener, Garrett Graham, Sean McGrath and Mychal Rivera crack the top 10 in fantasy points for tight ends during Week 4. They got their wish, after the top five included familiar names like Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas, Jason Witten and Vernon Davis. That could be the case once again in Week 6, but it will also likely mark the long-awaited return of a potential top five player at the position, even with the missed time:
Rob Gronkowski, New England Patriots: Could this finally be the week? Ever since the start of the season, murmurs of a Week 6 return for Gronkowski surfaced, though cautious optimism -- or likely a smokescreen from Patriots brass -- presented the possibility of a sooner return. But the optimism surrounding Gronk's potential return this week is more than cautious, and should he suit up versus the Saints, he will be in line for a huge day. Tom Brady could not be more excited for the return of his favorite target, and fantasy owners could not be more thrilled for the return of 2012's top scoring tight end not named Jimmy Graham.
Vernon Davis, San Francisco 49ers: Only the Broncos have allowed more yards to tight ends this season than the Cardinals, which has to be music to Vernon Davis' and Colin Kaepernick's ears. Davis was fortunate to be the recipient of half of Kaepernick's six completed passes a week ago versus the Texans, and he converted those chances for 88 yards and a touchdown. Hopefully, Davis will have more than six targets come his way versus a defense that is prone to giving up plenty of big plays versus tight ends, and if that is the case, expect another big week.
Antonio Gates, San Diego Chargers: Lost in the career resurgence of Philip Rivers is that of Antonio Gates, who currently ranks seventh in the NFL with 438 receiving yards and only trails Jimmy Graham in receiving yards among tight ends. He draws a matchup versus the Colts, who have been one of the stingier teams versus tight ends this season, but they haven't been tested by a tight end of Gates' caliber. Gates has continued to put up huge numbers now that the likes of Vincent Jackson, Malcom Floyd and Danario Alexander are out of the picture, and to keep up with a high-flying Colts offense, the Chargers will look to their future hall of famer once again.
Martellus Bennett, Chicago Bears: Bennett will be a game-time decision versus the Giants after sustaining a knee injury versus the Saints last week. As a result, Bennett has several factors working against him despite a good matchup on the horizon. Because of the Thursday-night game time for the Bears, Bennett has less recovery time, although he did manage to practice at a limited basis on Tuesday. That indicates Bennett will likely suit up, but with other options for Jay Cutler to throw to, and with tight end being such a deep position overall, it's difficult to trust his involvement in a potentially sloppy Thursday night matchup.
Garrett Graham, Houston Texans: Graham has turned the heads of quite a few fantasy owners with three touchdowns over the first five games, including a game versus the stout Seahawks defense where he scored and added five catches for 69 yards. Now that Owen Daniels is on injured reserve with a designation to return, owners have snatched Graham off of waivers instead of just keeping an eye on him.
However, unless said owners have no other options, it would be a little premature to insert him into the lineup this week despite a great matchup with the Rams. It's DeAndre Hopkins, not Graham, who is more likely to get a boost versus one of the worst defenses versus wide receivers this season. Starting cornerback Cortland Finnegan, who had been previously benched for his poor play, has allowed a perfect quarterback rating of 158.3 when targeted this season. Janoris Jenkins isn't far behind, allowing quarterbacks to have a rating of 112.4. This is likely where Texans quarterback Matt Schaub will look in order to regain his confidence.
Let's take a look at the top 25 tight ends for Week 6: