UPDATE: Jason Witten is active and expected to play in tonight’s game. Since his injury wasn’t to his legs or hands he should be mostly without limitation although may be more vulnerable to being knocked out by a big hit. I’d feel comfortable playing him as a starting TE in almost all formats. If you want to go a different direction, the options below are still solid ones.
First let me say to hold on to Witten, he may end up being one of the steals of the draft if this is the only game he misses. Try to figure out another drop from your roster to pick up a second TE even if it’s just for the first week.
Here’s five options who may be available in your league:
Kyle Rudolph-Minnesota: (14.3%) Rudolph is one of the best options out there that regularly gets overlooked because the Vikings aren’t expected to be very good this season. He’s an every-down player for Minnesota and could easily be the second target in the passing game this week against the visiting Jaguars. The Vikings run game will be less effective than usual due to Adrian Peterson’s unknown status and limited role if he does get on the field. If the Vikings are forced to go to the air, Percy Harvin should have a good game but besides him the Vikings don’t have many pass-catching options. Jerome Simpson who signed to be the second receiver is suspended through week three. Ponder and Rudolph hav shown a connection in camp connection on six of seven targets in the preseason for 65 yards. If you need a one or two week fill-in for Witten, he’s my top choice.
Greg Olsen-Carolina: (41.8% owned in ESPN leagues) Olsen is one of Cam Newton’s favorite targets and doesn’t have to contend with Jeremy Shockey, as I wrote about earlier in the preseason. He didn’t do much against Tampa in two meetings last year but both games were at the end of the year when he wasn’t a main part of the Panthers offense. He’s not a top 10 tight end, but he could definitely have a nice week in Tampa if the Bucs commit to stopping the Panthers run game and Newton goes to his safety blanket TE.
Coby Fleener-Indianapolis: (33.9%) Fleener has a huge advantage over most rookies since he played with his new QB last year. He and Andrew Luck were Colts picks in the first two rounds of the draft and they connected on a regular basis for Stanford the last two seasons. Fleener had 17 TDs those years with a healthy 17.9 yards per catch average. He’s a risky pick since we haven’t seen him, Luck, or the Colts offense in a real game yet, but he does represent some upside if he’s on the waiver wire in your league.
Jermaine Gresham-Cincinnati: (33.4%) Gresham and the Bengals don’t play until Monday night and they play against Baltimore which is a tough matchup. A.J. Green is obviously the top target for Andy Dalton, but Gresham caught no less than three passes in any game after week 2 of last season. He finished with six TDs and just under 600 yards. He probably won’t have a huge game on MNF, but if the three above options are gone, he’s a decent pickup.
Martellus Bennett-New York Giants: (24.4%) Bennett is the starting tight end in New York after Jake Ballard departed and Travis Beckum remains out recovering from ACL surgery. Bennett will be far from the top option in the G-men’s passing game but should get some looks against his former team and be motivated to show the Cowboys they shouldn’t have let him get away.