Don’t Quit on Pitta October 5, 2012  |  C.D. Carter

Ravens tight end Dennis Pitta went from Kate Upton to Dina Lohan in one week.

He was sexy, and then he wasn’t.

Pitta, after leading all tight ends in targets through three weeks and catching 18 balls for 188 yards, laid a rotten, stinking egg in Week 4 against the Browns. This after millions of us flocked to the waiver wire in search of some relief from underperforming tight ends like Antonio Gates and Jason Witten.

Fantasy owners plugged in Pitta against Cleveland, expecting him to roast the Joe Haden-less Browns’ secondary in the Ravens’ shiny new up-tempo offense. Pitta posted exactly zero points on two targets from Joe Flacco, resulting in innumerable shower cries from owners nationwide.

Stay strong, Pitta owner, because the pride and joy of your waiver wire maneuvering could resume his target-hogging ways this Sunday at Kansas City.

The Browns matchup, to me, was never as sexy as it was on paper for Pitta owners. The Browns’ secondary had been ripped by receivers, sure, but they had kept tight ends in check, allowing an average of 4.5 point per game to tight ends, fourth best in the league. Whatever the Browns’ defensive flaws — and there are many — covering tight ends is not one.

Flacco, as expected, sliced and diced the Browns’ secondary, but Pitta had nothing to do with it, as Torrey Smith and Anquan Boldin abused the Cleveland cornerbacks from the opening gun. It should be noted though that Pitta was not suddenly converted to a blocking tight end – he was split out in the slot, running intermediate routes as usual. That’s good news.

This week is different, a much improved matchup for Pitta and his rage-filled fantasy owners. The Chiefs are giving up 8.5 fantasy points per game (and three touchdowns) to tight ends, 10th worst in the NFL.

And the kicker: Chiefs safety Eric Berry, coming off reconstructive knee surgery that sidelined him all of last season, has been less than stellar in coverage in the first month of the 2012 season.

Greg Cosell, the knower of all things talent evaluation, said this week that Berry is “really struggling” in coverage, especially against tight ends. If Cosell knows this, the Ravens know it. Offensive coordinator Cam Cameron has had nothing but high praise for Pitta this year, so don’t expect him to brush his tight end into the offensive dustpan.

As the honorable Chet Gresham wrote this week, Pitta has received 20 percent of Flacco’s targets this year. Remember, this is the pass catcher who racked up 31 targets in the season’s first three weeks.

This game, like all Chiefs games, has the potential for a blowout, which probably would decimate Pitta’s value. But if Kansas City can manage to play like some semblance of an NFL team and force the Ravens to run their lovely new offense throughout the game, I expect Pitta to reward his most patient fake football owners.

Stick with Dina. She’ll morph back into Kate soon enough.


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