Fantasy Football: Start TE Scott Chandler with Confidence


Patriots tight end Scott Chandler has some massive fantasy football upside going forward.

With the fantasy football season coming down the stretch run, each and every decision being made is of the utmost importance. If you start the wrong running back and he puts up a goose egg (I’m looking at you, Eddie Lacy), it could be a fatal mistake that your team simply will not be able to overcome. Just like in the NFL, fantasy football decisions are magnified this time of the season.

The New England Patriots were not the only team to suffer a huge loss with the Rob Gronkowski injury. There is one owner in each fantasy football league who lost arguably the best player on their team for the stretch run. Gronk may have led your team to the playoffs, but now you may not have him for your all important post season run? Rough luck.

In real life or fantasy football, nobody can replace Gronkowski. His combination of size, speed, strength and athleticism is nothing we have ever seen before. Nobody can step in and replace that at the highest level. That being said, the Patriots do have a bit of an insurance policy on Gronk, and it comes in the 6-foot-7, 260 pound frame of Scott Chandler.

Whether you have Gronkowski, or your tight end options are lacking, hopefully you were able to snap Chandler off of your waiver wire. Physically, Chandler is not going to replace Gronkowski, but someone has to take those targets from him. With the rest of the Patriots’ receiving core also banged-up, I think Chandler is going to see a large role in this offense.

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In fantasy football, he is an absolute must start.

Chandler is a big-bodied tight end whose size has always given him an advantage in the red zone. He was the primary tight end for the Buffalo Bills for the past four seasons. Despite being in a high-volume rushing offense with poor quarterback play a majority of that time, Chandler was able to bring in 17 touchdown receptions. Not an overly massive amount, but not bad considering the circumstances.

Playing time has been relatively tough to come by for Chandler this season with the Patriots, but he has made the most of his opportunities. Through 11 games of extremely limited playing time, Chandler has caught 19 passes on 34 targets for 198 yards and three touchdowns. Chandler has been primarily used in short yardage and red zone plays, but typically seems to make the most out of his opportunities.

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Even before the Gronkowski injury, Chandler was obviously an important part of the Patriots’ game plan last week against the Denver Broncos. Without their top two receivers in Julian Edelman and Danny Amendola, Tom Brady and the Patriots clearly looked to feature the tight end position last week.

Obviously, Gronk got his, bringing in six receptions for 88 yards and a first quarter touchdown before leaving the game late with a knee injury. But even with Gronkowski playing most of the game, Chandler led the Patriots with 11 targets against the Broncos. Chandler was able to bring in five receptions for 58 yards and a second quarter red zone touchdown. Not the most efficient game, but productive nonetheless.

Now, I am not saying Chandler is going to give you the production of Gronkowski, but if he is getting 11 targets with Gronk in the line-up, how often is Brady going to look his way without his number one tight end?

Chandler has been a full-time player in the past, and he was a solid fantasy football tight end. However, he has never been a full-time player in an offense like this. Without Gronkowski, Edelman and Amendola, Chandler is arguably the most reliable target who Brady has in his arsenal. I realize that is kind of sad, but he will clearly be a major part of the game plan.

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As a red zone savant whose opportunity in arguably the best passing attack in the NFL is seemingly unlimited, Scott Chandler has a chance to quickly become an elite fantasy football tight end. Do not hesitate, start him with confidence this week.