Gary Barnidge, fantasy superstar.
This is the world we now live in. There have been a lot of surprising developments through the first five weeks of the NFL, but perhaps none more so than Mr. Barnidge, who sounds more like the star of an England TV drama than a star tight end. Entering the year with 603 receiving yards and three touchdowns in the last seven seasons, he’s on pace for 1,196 yards and nine scores in 2015.
So, can he be trusted in fantasy circles?
The biggest thing that suggests Barnidge can stay fantasy relevant is his volume. In the last three games–the three game since Josh McCown re-entered the lineup–he has received 10, six and 10 targets. In terms of percentage of total team targets, he has been at 21.3, 15.4 and 19.6, very healthy numbers. While his huge stats have partly been a product of the Browns throwing an unsustainable 47 times per game over that span, he’s clearly one of McCown’s favorite targets.
After producing 139 yards and a spectacular touchdown against Baltimore, a team that held Tyler Eifert to zero catches two weeks early, Barnidge has established himself as a trustworthy option.
Again, it’s worth noting that the volume is likely to decrease in the coming weeks, but Barnidge’s clearly important role in this offense makes him a legitimate top-10 tight end moving forward.
If you’re in need of tight end help, you should have no qualms about using a high-priority waiver pick on Barnidge this week. The tight end position has been fairly weak this season, and there’s not likely going to be a better free-agent option the rest of the year.