It’s official - the ankle injury that Mark Andrews suffered on Thursday night football will keep him out for the remainder of the season. File this game away with the long history of brutal AFC North Thursday Night Football showdowns that saw the devastating injury to Ryan Shazier and the vicious hit by Vontze Bufict on Antonio Brown. Whether you are a Ravens fan or a fantasy football player who had Mark Andrews, we all need to prepare for life without one of the league's most elite tight ends. So let’s look at the options.
Raven Tight End Options
When you rely on a guy as heavily as the Ravens do, you’re going to want to have options available. And Isaiah Likely is, in my opinion, the most fantasy-viable backup tight end in the entire league. Last year in the games without Mark Andrews, Isaiah Likely stepped in and averaged 8.3 targets per game.
On the season last year, Likely only blocked on 2.6% of his pass plays and lined up at 81.1% of his snaps making him a direct understudy for what Andrews does. He’s not Mark Andrews of course but, depending on what it out there on the waiver wire, he might be the next best thing. And the Ravens should be happy to have him.
The third-string tight end on the Ravens, Charlie Kolar, might honestly be better than the starting tight end on a number of NFL teams. He was a 4th round pick out of Iowa State and, according to Player Profiler, he’s essentially in the top 25% or better in most important workout metrics like speed score, burst score, agility score, and catch radius. His usage has been limited for obvious reasons but he’ll certainly be mixing in more often now. I don’t think he will necessarily be fantasy-relevant - my concern is that he may be good enough to split the snaps and make Isaiah Likely not relevant.
Ranking Available Fantasy Football Replacements
Let’s take a second to look at the available tight ends that are rostered in less than 50% of Yahoo leagues and try to prioritize who to add.
Isaiah Likely, BAL TE: 20-25% of FAAB
We wrote above what we like about him. And my rule of thumb is that, if a player goes directly into your lineup, the floor should be set at 20% of FAAB. Make sure you get him. The problem is, in some leagues, he won’t clear waivers until next week so you may need to add a contingency pick if waivers run Sunday morning.
Pat Freiermuth, PIT TE: 10-15% of FAAB
This one doesn’t take a whole lot of explaining. Of guys in this range, he has the most individual talent. If he does play this week he has a terrible matchup vs the best TE defense but that doesn’t matter to you since you already started Mark Andrews. The quarterback play and target competition are the main concerns but he’s got a nose for the endzone and can bail you out that way. We just have to hope the hamstring holds up.
Cade Otton, TB TE: 5-10% of FAAB
Cade Otton had a bad matchup last week. He has a bad matchup again this week. As we said though, that doesn’t matter to us as we aren’t starting him this week. Because of that, he should be cheap on waivers. This guy quietly leads all tight ends in the league in snap share and he’s fourth in route participation so he’s out there. And, before the bad matchups, he got 6, 6, and 9 targets. The schedule opens up a bit down the stretch here though the Packers and Saints during fantasy playoffs aren’t ideal so you might still want to mix and match.
Hunter Henry, NE TE: 3-5% of FAAB
Hunter Henry had a pretty rough stretch for a bit there where he was running only about 50% of the routes. But, since the Kendrick Bourne injury two weeks ago, that has jumped with him running 80-85% of the routes the last two games and getting five and six targets. His greatest strength is in man-to-man coverage which translates well to the red zone where teams go into lockdown. That’s why he’s so successful in the red area even if he isn’t peppered with targets from week to week.
Luke Musgrave GB TE: 2-3% of FAAB
In any normal year, the play of Luke Musgrave as a rare successful rookie tight end would be heralded. But it just so happens to be The Year of the Rookie Tight End with Sam LaPorta and Dalton Kincaid lighting it up. The issue here is that he’s been a little less consistent as of late with Christian Watson back since it’s crowded with Musgrave, Watson, Romeo Doubs, and Jayden Reed. But he’s still playing a huge snap share as the starting tight end and getting involved to some degree each week so you could do a lot worse.
HONORABLE MENTIONS: Chig Okonkwo, Jonnu Smith, Tyler Conklin, Mike Gesicki