Sort of like how an NFL coach might alter his game plan at halftime if he team isn’t doing well, you need to be able to audible to a new strategy when your original plan doesn’t deliver as intended.
Such a failed plan was one the Madman before this season: Draft and stash Jets tight end Chris Herndon. As a rookie last year, Herndon saw an uptick in usage and production over the second half of the season. We expected him to show progression this year, along with his second-year quarterback, Sam Darnold.
We knew we would have to stash Herndon because he was suspended the first four games. But we felt we could find a suitable first option in the middle-to-late rounds of the draft, then scoop up Herndon near the end, and have a platoon that would provide us with enough production at a thin position to allow us to load up on depth at the more productive and volatile positions like running backs and wide receiver.
Then, it was revealed Herndon had a hamstring tweak. That kept him out until Week 10, when he finally made his underwhelming season debut — one catch on two targets for 7 yards — and he came away with a ribs injury that ended his season.
During his absence, former Texan Ryan Griffin has stepped in and performed to the level we thought we would get out of Herndon, averaging 4.0 catches and 55.8 yards with three total touchdowns over the past four games.
As alternative plans go, this one is an easy conversion. Obviously, you had to audible away from Herndon long ago, but it is quite likely you have been juggling between unattractive options like Jason Witten, Darren Fells, T.J. Hockenson or one of many other unreliable tight end options.
So the original Herndon plan didn’t work and the makeshift, on-the-fly plans over several weeks in the middle of the season weren’t fruitful, but now, Griffin provides an opportunity to return to a plan similar to the original, just replacing our primary target.
This week, Griffin gets to face a Raiders defense that ranks 28th out of the 32 teams in fantasy points allowed to tight ends. They have held opposing teams to under 10 total points by tight ends just three times this season. They have allowed more than 15 fantasy points to the position three times and more than 20 twice.
The coming weeks have upside as well. Griffin has neutral matchups against the Dolphins, Bengals and Ravens before a championship-week clash with a Steelers team that is the seventh-weakest defending tight ends.
Griffin is still available in most leagues. It is an easy audible. This is a game-plan adjustment you can ride toward the fantasy playoffs.
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