The tight end position was one of the deepest coming into the season, but now the pickings are becoming thinner than Wade Phillips’ job security. Injuries to Jermichael Finley, Dallas Clark, Vernon Davis, and the slow recovery of Owen Daniels has wreaked havoc at the position. Then there’s Antonio Gates and Zach Miller, whom are suffering injuries and could miss this week.
Enter Colts tight end Jacob Tamme, who becomes a Top 10 tight end with all the injuries. Tamme, in his third season, was targeted nine times Monday night against the Texans. He dropped the first pass thrown his way by Peyton Manning, but finished with six catches for 64 yards and a touchdown. Tamme ran crisp routes and at 6-3, 236 pounds he is built like a wide receiver. Manning wasn’t afraid to throw the ball his way in critical spots of the game, too. Tamme is an excellent start against an Eagles defense that struggles defending the tight end.
Here are some more good plays in Week 9
Matt Forte (Bears, RB): Forte has just two games of more than 12 carries. Call it the Mike Martz factor as the offensive coordinator is all about the pass. But even Martz has to call on Forte this week against the Bills porous run defense that is ranked last in the NFL. With two weeks to prepare against a defense that doesn’t pressure the quarterback well, the Bears offense will rebound. Forte could also break a big play in the passing game.
LeGarrette Blount (Buccaneers, RB): Blount has emerged as the main back for the Bucs after a breakout performance with 22 carries for 120 yards and two TDs last week. He will get the goal-line carries and is awfully tough to take down near the end zone. The Falcons defense has been stingy against the run, but Blount will get a good volume of carries and has a chance to score.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis (Patriots, RB): Another matchup that is tough as the Browns have allowed just one rushing TD, but the Patriots are more committed to the run and Green-Ellis has scored in five consecutive games. When the Patriots get to the red zone, they run.
Ryan Mathews (Chargers, RB): No question he has been a disappointment and right now he’s showing no patience. The talented rookie had 18 touches last week despite leaving the game briefly after taking a big hit. Mathews did score and had more touches than Mike Tolbert and Darren Sproles. Mathews will have a breakout game at some point and a struggling Texans defense could be the one to provide it. Tolbert, who has a TD in five consecutive games, is a good start, too. With a depleted wide receiver corps and the possibility of Gates being out, the Chargers might employ a run-heavy game plan.
Mike Williams (Buccaneers, WR): The rookie is a good bet to score every week and has a great matchup against the Falcons, who don’t defend the pass well. Williams has at least 82 yards in three of the last four games.
Patrick Crayton (Chargers, WR): The Chargers are running out of wide receivers. Crayton could benefit against the Texans, ranked last against the pass.
Davone Bess (Dolphins, WR): The Dolphins running game is struggling and they may be forced to pass against the Ravens. Bess has at least five catches in six of seven games and 26 catches with three TDs over the last four games.
Johnny Knox (Bears, WR): As bad as the Bears’ offense has been, Knox hasn’t suffered when Jay Cutler is the quarterback. Knox has 11 catches for 206 yards with a TD in the last two games. With the Bills on tap, look for the good numbers to continue.
James Jones (Packers, WR): The Cowboys have been getting shredded via the pass and Donald Driver will not play. Jones hasn’t recorded a catch in two of the last four games, so there is some risk, but with six teams on bye and a juicy matchup, Jones makes a nice WR3.
Benjamin Watson (Browns, TE): A below the radar tight end that has put up solid numbers with at least five catches in four of the last five games. There’s motivation since he’s playing his former team and the Patriots give up yards to tight ends.
Visanthe Shiancoe (Vikings, TE): The acquisition of Randy Moss meant fewer targets for Shiancoe. Brett Favre will be looking his way more often with the lack of appealing options at wide receiver. A good matchup against the Cardinals will help.
Sleepers: Josh Freeman (Buccaneers), Darren Sproles (Chargers), Javarris James (Colts), Seyi Ajirotutu (Chargers), Mario Manningam (Giants), Jordy Nelson (Packers), Greg Olsen (Bears).