Mark LoMoglio/Associated Press
Better Than Usual
O.J. Howard, TB (vs. PIT)
The search for stability at tight end may never end for some fantasy owners, so it might come down to weighing safety versus upside. In two games, Howard has only six targets, but he’s turned that into five receptions for 150 yards and a 75-yard TD. That score came on a crossing route that became a much bigger play than it was designed to be due to poor tackling and Howard’s ability to gain yards after the catch.
Howard’s knack for big plays dates back to his rookie season last year, when he had three TDs go for at least 30 yards. In addition to the 75-yard score in Week 2, he had a 35-yard gain in Week 1, so even though he hasn’t been that busy, he’s been efficient when the ball is in his hands. That upside is worth using this week when he faces the visiting Steelers.
Last week, Travis Kelce went off for seven receptions, 109 yards and a pair of TDs on 10 targets against Pittsburgh. The matchup between the Steelers and Buccaneers features two passing games with a lot of firepower and two beatable defenses. There’s enough working in Howard’s favor to use him with the hope for another big play or two.
Benjamin Watson, NO (at ATL)
Watson might seem like a tight end you can take a shot on if you’re stuck at a thin position, but the results haven’t been promising so far in 2018. Through Week 2, he’s caught seven of nine targets for 63 yards and has yet to score. While playing with Drew Brees always gives Watson a glimmer of fantasy hope, the matchup with the Falcons isn’t great.
The Falcons held Eagles tight ends Zach Ertz and Dallas Goedert to only six receptions for 52 yards in Week 1. Atlanta followed that up by limiting Panthers tight end Ian Thomas to a pair of catches for 10 yards this past Sunday.
The hope for Watson is continued usage in the red zone. He has three targets and two receptions for 14 yards inside the 20-yard-line, so if you play him, the idea is that he’ll get chances to score.
Jonnu Smith, TEN (at JAC)
Smith was a popular pickup heading into Week 2 after the Titans lost Delanie Walker for the season in Week 1. Smith went on to register zero targets in a Week 2 win over the Houston Texans after catching only one of three targets for 12 yards in the opener.
Between Marcus Mariota’s elbow injury and Blaine Gabbert filling in as the backup, this quarterback situation has made it hard to use any member of the Titans receiving corps with confidence outside of Corey Davis, who is the only Titan with at least 10 targets this season. Move on from Smith.
Jesse James, PIT (at TB)
Though Vance McDonald returned to action in Week 2 after missing Week 1 with a foot injury, James came through with the best game of his career. He hauled in all five of his targets for 138 yards, including a 46-yard gain and a 26-yard TD, to finish with 24.8 fantasy points, making him the No. 2 fantasy TE for the week. McDonald’s return dropped James’ snap share from 82.1 percent to 54.9 percent, but that still beat McDonald’s 45.1 percent.
The presence of McDonald makes it tougher to trust James, so this is definitely a reach play. However, it’s worth a shot following James’ performance in Week 2 and a favorable matchup with the Buccaneers this week. They allowed 15 receptions for 151 yards on 19 targets to Ertz (11 receptions, 94 yards) and the Eagles tight ends last week.
This will be a battle of the passing attacks, so James has a shot to get it done.