Eifert was selected in the first round with the No. 21 pick overall by the Bengals in the 2013 draft. Though rookie tight ends often need a couple of seasons to find their way, Eifert performed pretty well out of the gate with 39 receptions and 445 yards. After missing most of 2014 with injury, he rebounded in 2015 with a career-best performance. In 13 games in 2015, he caught 13 touchdown passes and reeled in 52 passes for 615 yards. At Notre Dame, Eifert won the Mackey Award as the nation’s top tight end, and he was a finalist for the award in 2011. In March, the Bengals signed the six-year veteran to a one-year $8 million contract. He will play the 2018 season on a prove-it basis.
Fool me once, shame on you. Fool me twice … and three times, and, well, maybe it’s time to reconsider counting on Eifert to bounce back. In five NFL seasons, he has played in 39 out of a possible 80 regular-season games. He missed the final game of his rookie season with a stinger. He missed nearly the entire 2014 season with a dislocated elbow (a gruesome injury). After his stellar performance in 2015, he injured his ankle in the Pro Bowl and was forced to miss the first half of 2016. Eifert hoped to be healthy last season, but lingering back issues limited him to playing only in the first two games of 2017.
The elbow was pro-ba-bly a fluke, and ankles can heal, but “lingering back issues” would be troublesome for an accountant, let alone an NFL tight end. There is absolutely no doubt that Eifert has tremendous talent, and he’s certainly worth a spot on fantasy rosters. Just don’t bank your season on his availability.