Choosing the correct mid-tier tight end to start on a weekly basis can be extremely tough for a fantasy owner. Anyone with half a brain can start Antonio Gates or Jermichael Finley, but it takes true skill to decipher a number of good-but-not-great options and pick the right one.
Here are three mid-tier tight ends, a couple of which might be available on your league's waiver wire, who should have monster games this weekend thanks to favorable matchups.
Jared Cook - Tennessee Titans
The Tennessee Titans let longtime tight end Bo Scaife walk in the offseason due to the potential of Jared Cook. A wide receiver stuck in a tight end's body, Cook is a matchup nightmare for opposing defenses thanks to his combination of size and speed.
New quarterback Matt Hasselbeck has yet to form a rapport with Cook, though, as evidenced by his five catches in three games. With the season-ending injury to receiver Kenny Britt, however, Cook is in line to become a much bigger part of the offense.
The Cleveland Browns may stack the box in an effort to stop running back Chris Johnson this weekend, and that should bode well for Cook as the Titans have been willing to sling the ball around the field in the early going.
Jermaine Gresham - Cincinnati Bengals
Although he hasn't had a huge season to this point, Cincinnati Bengals tight end Jermaine Gresham has been a reliable target for rookie quarterback Andy Dalton. Gresham is averaging four catches per game, and there is certainly room for improvement. The Buffalo Bills are a nice matchup for Gresham to exploit.
The Bills have been excellent offensively this season, but on defense there is still plenty to be desired. Buffalo was torched by opposing tight ends last season and that continues to be a problem. The Bills were torched on a couple occasions by New England's Rob Gronkowski last weekend.
Buffalo has severe deficiency against athletic tight ends up the seam, so Gresham could easily give them fits. With the Bengals likely having to keep up, Gresham should get plenty of targets as well.
Greg Olsen - Carolina Panthers
Tight ends can be a rookie quarterback's best friend, and that has certainly been true for Carolina Panthers quarterback Cam Newton this season. While wide receiver Steve Smith is his favorite target, he has completed the majority of his other passes to tight ends this season.
The main beneficiary of that has been athletic tight end Greg Olsen. In three games Olsen has solid numbers with 12 grabs for 169 yards and a score, and he was targeted heavily be Newton last week. A number of factors suggest Olsen should absolutely go off on Sunday.
For one, he's playing his old team, the Chicago Bears, who essentially gave up on him this offseason. Also, the Bears were torched by Green Bay's Jermichael Finley last week, so they obviously have an issue against tight ends which Olsen should exploit.