Finding Aaron Hernandez’s Replacement
New England Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez could be out for up to six weeks with the dreaded high ankle sprain. And as we have all grown to learn and hate, this is a type of injury that can last longer, or even worse, keep a player from ever getting back to the level they were on in the same season they sustained it.
We can’t know for sure how long Hernandez will be out or how much it affects him long-term in 2012, but for now all we can do is patch up the hole at tight end and hope for the best. Beyond a trade that could land you a solid replacement, here’s what you’re looking at on the fantasy football waiver wire at the tight end position:
Dustin Keller – New York Jets (Available in 60% of Yahoo! leagues)
Keller is currently nursing a hamstring injury, which is why a bunch of fantasy owners have already cut ties with him and picked up some of these other tight ends options. He’s a solid focal points of New York’s offense when healthy, though, so he’s worth stashing until healthy if you have the roster space.
Kyle Rudolph – Minnesota Vikings (65%)
Rudolph hauled five catches for 67 yards in week one, and reeled in a touchdown in week two. His targets may waiver from week to week, but he’s clearly an option in the red-zone, and he has the ability to rack up the catches and yards with a good matchup, too. He could be a little hit or miss, but his talent and roles gives him a shot each week.
Martellus Bennett – New York Giants (68%)
Bennett is easily one of my favorite available tight end options. He’s operating in an explosive Giants passing offense that took itself to new heights in week two (career high 510 passing yards from Eli Manning), and saw Bennett score his second touchdown in as many games. He’s part of the offense and Manning is trusting in him more and more. He’s gone from preseason sleeper to possibly a reliable weekly starter.
Heath Miller – Pittsburgh Steelers (67%)
All that talk during the offseason about getting Miller more involved in the offense apparently wasn’t just talk. The Steelers really have the big guy in the mix, and a touchdown in two straight games to start the year says it pretty loudly. He’s another guy that can be hit or miss, but still carries quality potential from week to week.
Dennis Pitta – Baltimore Ravens (71%)
Pitta has a ton of value at the moment due to his size and reliable hands, as Joe Flacco has confided in him to the tune of 13 receptions. Pitta may not be handcuffed to Ed Dickson anymore, and if that’s the case his potential is about to go through the roof.
Scott Chandler – Buffalo Bills (96%)
Chandler isn’t a beast play-maker, but he’s still a touchdown machine, just like he was last season. He already has two touchdowns on the year and Ryan Fitzpatrick should only look his way more and more.
Brandon Meyers – Oakland Raiders (99%)
Meyers doesn’t offer much play-making or red-zone potential, but he has 11 receptions through the first two weeks. Considering Carson Palmer’s weak pass protection and no time to look down the field, Meyers could have a shot at keeping up solid PPR numbers.
There are more tight ends, but these are your best bets, and they’re available in a ton of leagues. If I had to pick one, I’d go with Dennis Pitta right now. Joe Flacco loves him, plus he’s reliable and clearly playing ahead of Ed Dickson these days. Right behind him are very solid options in Kyle Rudolph and Martellus Bennett, however.
Kevin Roberts owns and operates NFL Soup and heads the fantasy football division of the site. Roberts also finished 2nd in the Wide Receiver position in Fantasy Pros expert fantasy football rankings in 2010 and 3rd in the Quarterback position in 2011. In addition to running the fantasy football section of the site, Roberts contributes to NFL Soup's NFL Draft coverage and breaking news reporting. Follow Kevin on Twitter @NFLSoupKevin