Bounce Back Tight Ends
According to the Merriam-Webster Dictionary, the definition of bounce back is;
: to return quickly to a normal condition after a difficult situation or event. Example – After losing the first three games of the series, they bounced back to win their next eight games.
This series of articles touches on players that I feel will bounce back from the previous season and deliver more fantasy value to your roster. I appreciate any feedback you may have either in our Facebook Community or on Twitter. You can find me on Twitter @RedZoneSully.
Day four and the final installment of the series has arrived and its time to talk Tight Ends.
Greg Olsen – Carolina Panthers
Greg Olsen is the most logical bounce back option at the TE position. Olsen had a lost season a year ago due to a foot injury sustained in week 2. Olsen missed the 9 of the Panthers next 10 games and finished the season as a decoy in the offense. As a result, Olsen finished with his lowest number of games played in his 10-year career and the rest of his stats followed suit. Prior to the 2017 season, Olsen started 148 straight games. You have to go all the way back to 2007 (his rookie season in Chicago), to find the last game he missed. Greg Olsen is the only TE to have three consecutive 1000 yards seasons (2014-2016). In 2016 he recorded the second most yards and targets at his position. The Panthers have added DJ Moore and combined with Christian McCaffery, they should cut into the Olsen’s targets in 2018. I do not see Olsen bouncing back to a 1000-yard season, but I do see him being the primary RedZone target for this team. A healthy Greg Olsen makes Cam Newton a better quarterback. Cam has always been a QB that plays better with confidence. When things are going good for Cam he’s amazing when they are not, he’s a mess. Newton doesn’t seem to have much middle ground. Greg Olsen is Cam’s security blanket. This entire offense gets a lift with Olsen on the field. Greg Olsen is in great shape to bounce back into the top 5-8 range at TE in 2018.
Tyler Eifert – Cincinnati Bengals
Greg Olsen was a logical choice as a bounce back, Tyler Eifert, I am not so sure. In 2015 Tyler Eifert caught 13 touchdowns. In the last two seasons combined, he has caught 5. In 2015 he appeared in 13 games, in the last two seasons he has played 10. Clearly, the area of opportunity here is his health and ability to suit up for Cincinnati. If he can stay healthy, I have no doubt that he will bounce back into TE relevance. Here is what I really like about Eifert. He caught 13 TD’s on 74 targets in 2015, and 5 on 47 in 2016. In 2017 Tyler Kroft caught 7 TD’s on 62 targets. The Bengals love to throw the ball to their TE named Tyler in the RedZone. The Bengals QB’s have combined to throw 74 TD passes from 2015-2017. 37% of them have been to the TE position. I do feel that Eifert plays this season and plays somewhere in the 8-12 game range. He won’t likely sustain the TD catch rate of 2015 or 2016 he will, however, remain a sold RedZone option. If I am the Bengals I utilize Kroft between the 20’s and Eifert in the RZ. Limit the unnecessary snaps on Eifert and limit his risk of injury reoccurrence. This likely doesn’t contribute to Eifert bouncing back into the top 12, but considering where he is coming from this will be a bounce-back season.
Jordan Reed – Washington Redskins
From one injury-riddled TE to another. Jordan Reed had a fantastic 2015 season. He finished that year as #3 TE with 244.2 points in 14 games. The past two seasons however due to a laundry list of injuries, Reed has combined for 228.7 points in 20 games. Reed has come into camp in 2018 declaring himself healthy and good to go. I for one hope that he is healthy and that we see Jordan Reed on the field. Reed is in a great situation this year in Washington. His new QB Alex Smith loves his TE. We saw what he did for Vernon Davis in San Francisco and recently what he did for Travis Kelce in Kansas City. Smith completed 13 TD passes to Vernon Davis in his career year of 2009, and Kelce is coming off back to back 1000+ yard seasons in KC. Jordan Reed has all the talent to be a top 5 TE, and he has a quarterback that can and will target him all over the field. Reed remains a huge health risk no doubt. If, (and it’s a rather large if), Reed stays healthy he will find himself back in the top 10 at the TE position in 2018.
Jimmy Graham – Green Bay Packers
It’s hard to label a player as a bounce-back candidate when he finished as the #6 overall TE in 2017, but that is exactly what I am about to do. Jimmy Graham had a terrible season last year. He caught 57 passes for 520 yards. His career average is 70/850. Hell, even his Seattle average is 57/682 is better than last season. Seattle didn’t appear to realize what they had in Graham and his utilization in that offense was puzzling. Green Bay has never really been an offense that has made the TE a relevant part of its attack. Arguably the best TE Rodgers has had previously is Jermichael Finley. That in itself may be the reason. Graham offers the Packers (and more importantly) Rodgers a veteran presence that will command attention from the opposing defense. The
only reason that Graham finished the season as TE #6 was, he scored 10 TD. Graham has a career average season of 70/850/9. Graham’s best season was the monster season of 2011 (99/1310/11), his career high in TD catches is 16. I wouldn’t anticipate that Graham finds that level of success at this stage of his career I am however seeing Graham back inside the top 3 TE, with a legit shot at #1 overall.
Antonio Gates – Free Agent
OK, full disclosure this one is a stretch, even for me. When I started writing this bounce-back series, I figured 5 players at each position seem logical until I started the TE position. TE is as deep as a puddle folks. I mean if you’re still with me after trying to sell Jimmy Graham as a bounce-back TE, you might as well see this one thru until the end! First of all, I do believe that Antonio Gates signs for one more season. It has been reported that the only team he will play for is the Los Angeles Chargers. It has also been reported that the Chargers have been in contact with Gates. If there was ever a player that wanted to play one more year and not deal with the grueling rigors of training camp, Gates is your man. Hunter Henry has been lost for the season and Virgil Green is alone on top of the Chargers depth chart. I’m sure Virgil is a very nice man, but he is hardly the TE that the Chargers need in this offense. Gates was a part-time TE last year and more of a nuisance to Henry owners than anything else. When he signs and returns this season, he will remain a part-time TE. The good news is that work will likely be RedZone exclusive. Gates finished the season as TE#28 with 79.6 fantasy points. Antonio hauled in 30 passes for 316 yards and 3 scores in 2017. I do feel that as the primary pass catching TE for the Chargers in 2018, that Gates can bounce-back to 40/400/5. That total would have seen him finish as TE 19 in 2017.