Fantasy Football: Emergency replacement for Julius Thomas

Ken Murray/Icon Sportswire

Julius Thomas got off to a good start this season, notching five catches for 64 yards and a touchdown in the opening game. One week later, he surpassed that with 71 yards, although not finding the end zone. But then against the Ravens in Week 3, he did nothing with 13 yards and is now a game-time decision for Sunday’s London game due to an elbow injury.

After an injury-plagued 2015, this is not good news for Thomas owners, as it’s looking more like a repeat for him. At the least, the Jaguars are in London and have an early Sunday game so there will be an array of tight end options in the case Thomas misses out.

My favorite, and probably many others’, is Hunter Henry.

Antonio Gates wasn’t close to appearing last week and is listed as doubtful for this week due to a bad hamstring. With Gates out against the Colts, Henry played in every offensive snap for the Chargers and that could easily be the case against the Saints.

Sure, Henry lost the game for San Diego, fumbling on the final drive, but they don’t really have another option to turn to.

He finished with five catches on five targets for 72 yards, a solid debut as the starting tight end.

Luckily for Henry, the matchup looks just as good for him and Philip Rivers. The Saints just gave up 45 points on Monday Night Football and are now on the west coast for this game. Expecting the New Orleans defense to look improved would be unwise.

In Yahoo leagues, Henry is only owned in 22 percent of leagues and 26.8 percent of ESPN leagues. Considering he is the starting tight end for the second-straight week and that Gates is 36 years old, that percentage needs to go up.

There is some worry that the Saints haven’t allowed much to tight ends this year, but Clive Walford, Larry Donnell and Jacob Tamme aren’t great barometers. Sure, Walford has had a good game and Tamme has been a surprise, but I’m not going to sway from Henry because of that.

Rivers heavily spread out targets against the Colts and that will probably happen for the rest of the season with Keenan Allen out. That means Henry should be good for five-to-seven targets per game and will always be a touchdown threat.

If you play in a good league and Henry is already taken, there are a couple other tight ends I like. In that same game, Jack Doyle is still only owned in 16 percent of Yahoo and 13.8 percent of ESPN leagues.

With Donte Moncrief out, Doyle was used more often out wide last week, with Dwayne Allen a better blocker on the line. With that, I actually have Doyle ranked above Allen this week.

And finally, despite a rough matchup against Denver, Cameron Brate needs to be considered in all leagues. He’s not going to get two touchdowns every week, but he is Jameis Winston’s No. 1 tight end and that’s all the information you need.

As for Thomas’s backup, Marcedes Lewis, I’ll stay away from him. He does have seven receptions and a touchdown in a backup role, but he has been the opposite of trustworthy throughout his NFL career.

Remember when Lewis caught 10 touchdowns back in 2010, was given fantasy recognition and then followed it up by having zero touchdowns the next season? Yeah, that’s what he does.

For me, I’ll go with the guys that have already produced this year in a starting role.

Fantasy Football: Emergency replacement for Julius Thomas

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