Tennessee Titans tight end Delanie Walker is out for the season after suffering a dislocated and fractured ankle in his teams 27-20 loss against the Miami Dolphins. Walker was being tackled, when the defender making the tackle, TJ McDonald, rolled over his leg. He had four receptions for 52 yards before being carted off the field with a towel over his head, and his leg in a cast.
The loss of Walker is a huge one for the Titans. He has at least 60 receptions for 800 yards in each of the past four seasons. Their only depth at the position is Luke Stocker and Jonnu Smith, neither of who is likely to match Walker’s receiving numbers.
In a nightmare start for Tennessee, QB Marcus Mariota and OL Taylor Lewan were also injured in a game that lasted over seven hours thanks to two separate lightning delays.
For those who have Walker on their fantasy team, he will be tough to replace. Tight end is a shallow position, especially when you’re trying to replace one of the best in the league. But there are still a few decent fill-in options out there.
Eric Ebron– I know, he didn’t do anything particularly impressive in Detroit. However, he got off to a good start with the Colts, catching four passes for 51 yards and a touchdown. He will be splitting time with Jack Doyle, but Ebron is a talented player, and having Andrew Luck throwing him the ball is a bonus.
Austin Hooper– Hooper is one of my personal favorites due to averaging 11.6 YPC, although he is a bit of an afterthought in a crowded Atlanta offense. Hooper could get some use in short to medium yardage situations, or in the red zone, especially if Matt Ryan can’t stop overthrowing Julio Jones.
Ben Watson– Another talented tight end in a high volume offense, Watson’s numbers aren’t spectacular but he can still be a serviceable option to replace Delanie Walker. I’ll trust almost anybody catching passes from Drew Brees, and Watson could see some red zone use as well. If he can stay healthy at 37, he might add on to his four catches for 44 yards against Tampa Bay.
Antonio Gates– One of the riskier moves you could make if you really need a tight end, Gates will almost be reliant completely on touchdowns for fantasy value. But he’s a familiar red zone target for Philip Rivers, so I wouldn’t completely count him out.
OJ Howard– Another tight end that will have to split time on the field, Howard and Cameron Brate only got two targets each against the Saints, with Howard catching both for 54 yards. He has some good receivers, Mike Evans and DeSean Jackson, ahead of him; but Howard could make some noise, especially if he can pull ahead of Brate.
Jared Cook– Cook got 12 targets, pulling in nine of them for 180 yards in the Raiders 33-13 loss against the Rams on Monday night. As of Tuesday morning, he is only owned in 27.8 of ESPN fantasy leagues. If week 1 is any indication, expect Cook to be a major factor in Jon Gruden’s offense this season.
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