We haven’t even kicked off the 2023 NFL season yet, and our pets’ heads are already falling off. We have had Cooper Kupp on ice all preseason, and then he visited a dreaded hamstring specialist last week. Next, all the running backs who make minimum wage claimed they would hold out after a well-publicized RB-only Zoom meeting — and only Jonathan Taylor actually (maybe, kinda) took that meeting to heart.
Now, our sweet prince Travis Kelce suffered a hyperextended knee just two days before his team welcomes the Detroit Lions to open the NFL and fantasy football season, putting his Week 1 in question.
We likely won’t know until Thursday if the tight end will be available to play, so here are a few streaming/stash options off the Week 1 Waiver Wire for Kelce owners. No one will replicate Kelce’s fantasy numbers, but we’ll do our best to find a one-week diamond at the game’s toughest position.
Note: 50% or less ownership on Yahoo!
TRY THESE TWO FIRST:
JUWAN JOHNSON (43%)
The Saints tight end is at the top of The Wolf’s Travis Kelce Replacement Plan, and for good reason. Coming off a team-leading seven-touchdown season, Juwan Johnson continued to ball out in training camp and preseason. Not only is he developing chemistry with new QB Derek Carr, but Saints’ reporters noted he improved as a blocker, which should boost his snap percentage (61% in 2022) this season.
Outside of Chris Olave and the oft-injured Michael Thomas, Johnson can become a reliable target for Carr, and it should happen right away against a Tennessee defense that ranked 28th against tight ends last season. The hype and matchup are there for Johnson to make Week 1 noise in place of Kelce.
GERALD EVERETT (41%)
I’m never one to carry two tight ends, but if I punt on the position, Gerald Everett will always find a way onto my roster. The veteran is coming off a 2022 season in which he recorded a career-best 58 catches on 87 targets for 555 yards and four touchdowns in 16 games. He’s situated on a crowded Chargers’ target totem pole, but Justin Herbert will let it fly in what should be a shootout against Tyreek Hill and the Dolphins. The matchup is juicy (27th vs tight ends in 2022), making Everett a shoo-in for double-digit fantasy points. Oh, and the last time we saw him, he put up six receptions for 109 yards and a score (25.9 FP) in the playoffs. He’s my personal favorite option of the bunch.
SHOULD BE AVAILABLE:
HUNTER HENRY (16%)
Everyone was on Mike Gesicki as the Patriots’ tight end to draft in best ball. And while early drafters could eventually be right, Hunter Henry sat atop Mac Jones’ target totem pole throughout training camp. Entering his third season in New England, Henry is coming off a down year due to the coaching clownery that went on. However, Bill O’Brien knows how to utilize the tight end, and he put up 140 fantasy points on nine touchdowns in 2021. Henry, not Gesicki, is the one to stream in this offense against an Eagles’ defense that is not elite against the tight end.
LUKE MUSGRAVE (15%)
Trusting a rookie tight end is always tough, especially in Week 1. But, after developing a quick rapport with Jordan Love, Luke Musgrave cemented his status as the top tight end pass-catcher in the Packers’ new-look offense. Outside of Christian Watson, the Packers’ pass-catchers are unproven, giving Musgrave an equal chance to battle for targets. The 6-foot-6, 253 lb athlete will eventually be a red zone menace, but will it happen in a tough Week 1 matchup against the Bears? Who knows. But, it’s not the worst dice roll.
IF YOU’RE SUPER DESPERATE:
NOAH GRAY (6%)
If Kelce is out of the lineup, why not go to his direct backup? As with any backup tight end, this is a very risky option with limited upside. Personally, I like Noah Gray as a player. He was on my dynasty team since he entered the league until I decided to drop him last week because, of course. Even with the lack of trustworthy weaponry on the Chiefs’ roster, I can’t see Patrick Mahomes peppering Gray with targets, but he could find the end zone. Whether it’s a shovel pass or a broken play, he has decent touchdown upside, making him an alright option if you’re in a deep league with limited tight end options available — especially against a Lions team that struggled against tight ends in 2022.
COLE TURNER (0%)
If we’re going to be honest, I had zero clue who Cole Turner was until I saw The Wolf’s tweet on Tuesday night. Then, I looked him up, and the first article I read was titled “Could Cole Turner be Eric Bieniemy’s version of Travis Kelce for Commanders?”
Ah, we’re onto you, Wolf.
The second-year tight end looks the part at 6-foot-6, 240 lbs, and made plays in the seam in Nevada’s Air Raid attack — making him a fit in Bieniemy’s tight end-friendly offense.
The Week 1 risk level with Turner is a 12-out-of-10. But the Bienemy connection is intriguing, and Turner could be a future Waiver Wire stash if he and Sam Howell develop a connection over the next few weeks. I like The Wolf’s thought process here, but this is the ultimate dart throw when the Waiver Wire still has starting tight ends available for the picking.
Let’s just pray that Kelce is okay.