Tyler Kroft continues to impress in Eifert’s absence

shelbydermer
CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 29: Tyler Kroft #81 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs the football upfield against Antonio Morrison #44 and Jon Bostic #57 of the Indianapolis Colts during their game at Paul Brown Stadium on October 29, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Colts 24-23. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OH - OCTOBER 29: Tyler Kroft #81 of the Cincinnati Bengals runs the football upfield against Antonio Morrison #44 and Jon Bostic #57 of the Indianapolis Colts during their game at Paul Brown Stadium on October 29, 2017 in Cincinnati, Ohio. The Bengals defeated the Colts 24-23. (Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images) /
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Tyler Kroft, the Bengals’ third-year tight end, has made the most of his opportunity this season.

There was a here-we-go-again feeling around in Cincinnati in mid-September. That was when the Bengals had not scored a touchdown in a 0-2 start and tight end Tyler Eifert was sidelined going into a week-three contest against the Green Bay Packers.

Pessimism turned into reality when Eifert opted for season-ending back surgery on October 12th. Once considered one of the league’s top-tier tight ends, Eifert will have missed more games than he’s played when the 2017 season concludes.

But making the most of the opportunity has been Tyler Kroft. The third-year Rutgers product has stepped into Eifert’s shoes and has proved to be a reliable security blanket for Andy Dalton in the passing game.

Against the Browns in Week 4, Kroft had a huge hand in Cincinnati’s first win. He caught two of Dalton’s four touchdown passes, going up and over a pair of defenders for his final score.

Kroft ranks second on the team in catches, receiving yards and touchdowns. He trails perennial Pro-Bowler A.J. Green in all three categories. Kroft is tied with Hunter Henry for eighth-most receptions by a tight end in the AFC.

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What’s been more impressive on his stat-line is his reliability. Kroft has snagged 85.1 percent of his targets this season (23-of-27). That’s substantially higher than Green (58.5%), Brandon LaFell (62.2%) and Giovani Bernard (57.9%). That average (a solid B on most grading scales) trails only Joe Mixon, who has caught all 17 targets this season.

Trending upwards

Kroft should continue to get looks in the passing game. Mostly because he is a safety net for Dalton, who has been under constant pressure this season.

Kroft had five catches for 46 yards against the Colts on Sunday. His biggest play was a 19-yard third-down reception in the second quarter to move the Bengals out from deep in their own territory. One play later, Mixon’s 67-yard reception set up Green’s eight-yard score.

C.J. Uzomah has been an afterthought in the passing game and H-back Ryan Hewitt is still injured. So expect Kroft to continue to get his fair share of looks in the passing games. Hopefully, he can move into Eifert status, when he was the go-to man in the red zone.

What’s next?

According to Yahoo Fantasy Football, Jacksonville’s number-one ranked pass defense is giving up the 14th most fantasy points to tight ends this season. However, those numbers have been tilted a bit.

Next: What Happened To The Bengals?

The Jaguars have allowed three tight ends – Jonnu Smith (TEN), Benjamin Watson (BAL) and Gerald Everett (LAR) – to score this season. Those three touchdowns increased the amount of total points allowed.

Overall, Jacksonville has tamed opposing tight ends this season. Delanie Walker has the most yards (61) and Jack Doyle has the most catches (6) for a tight end against them this season.

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