The tight end position is one of the toughest to project. A bad day can turn good with just a third-and-goal play from the five for a score. It's nice to have an every-week stud, but there are really just five guys that owners don't have to worry about when it comes to setting a lineup. There are a few guys, though, that owners can confidently plug into lineups in what could be a do-or-die week.
Coby Fleener - The Indianapolis Colts still haven't figured out how the fill the void left by injured receiver Reggie Wayne. They're getting on the right track and Andrew Luck seems to have his progressions figured out on most plays. T.Y. Hilton is his main man down the field, but he still hasn't been much of a possession receiver. That's where Fleener comes in.
Fleener has been a target monster, with 28 over his last three games. Those looks have yielded averages of 5.3 catches for 58.3 receiving yards and one total touchdown. Against the Tennessee Titans, the tight end put up career highs in catches (eight) and yards (107) while matching his career-best of 10 targets.
This time he gets the home crowd and a dome, so there is a lot to like here. Fleener is almost a must-start tight end unless you have a stud like Rob Gronkowski, Jimmy Graham, Julius Thomas or Vernon Davis.
Greg Olsen - It took a while for Olsen and Cam Newton to get it going, but it's starting to happen. In his last two games, he's been targeted a total of 17 times, catching 10 of those for a combined 86 yards and two scores. Olsen also has hit paydirt in four of his last five games after a four-game scoreless stretch prior to this recent outburst.
The Bucs are playing a lot better defense lately, but they have been giving up some big plays to tight ends. They allowed two scores to TEs last week against the Detroit Lions and eight receptions to Atlanta Falcons' tight ends.
Olsen should be a fairly reliable high-end TE1 this week with room for a lot of upside.
Jordan Reed - The New York Giants are likely going to be licking their chops to get after Robert Griffin III. All those blitzes should set the table for a Sunday Night Football dinner fantasy party for Reed.
The collapsing pocket could make it tough for RG3 to get the ball outside of the numbers, so Jordan in the slot and lining up tight could be a go-to guy for the QB.
The Washington Redskins missed Reed badly last week while he was out for a concussion. In Week 11 against the Philadelphia Eagles, he went down after catching just one ball. Before the injury, Reed was one of the hottest tight ends in fantasy football with a 62-yard, one-TD game against the Minnesota Vikings in Week 10. He also had two terrific PPR games back in Week 7 and 8 with 28- and 17-point games, respectively. He should be in all lineups and is a top-eight option in all formats. For what it's worth, I like him more than Olsen.
Antonio Gates - Gates is a little banged up this week. He said his hamstring is "tricky" on Friday, so he's not a lock to play. To be clear, it would be a surprise to see him sit this game out against a tough opponent in the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Bengals have done a solid job keeping tight ends in check and rank sixth in the league in fewest fantasy points allowed. What's more, Gates is also seeing his catches drop while his receiving yards have dropped in each of the last two weeks. The emergence of Ladarius Green seems to be hurting him a little, so considering he's not healthy there are likely better options to play in 12-team leagues.
Jared Cook - He finally busted out on Sunday against the Chicago Bears with 80 receiving yards and a score on four catches. It was the first time he topped 50 receiving yards and he didn't catch more than four balls since Week 3.
Cook gets the San Francisco 49ers this week for the second time this season. Back on Sep. 26, he was held in check with four catches for 45 yards. That was in a blowout loss, and Sam Bradford threw the ball 41 times.
Charles Clay - The New York Jets have been pretty solid against tight ends most weeks, but they've had their bad days. If not for huge weeks by Jimmy Graham and Rob Gronkowski, they would be one of the better groups. The light has come on a bit for the Jets lately, and they've been putting Antonio Allen on tight ends. He's done a bang-up job so far.
Aside from Clay's big 90-yard, one-score Week 11, he's fallen off after a hot start. In the five previous games excluding that aforementioned one, he couldn't clear 40 receiving yards. He's gone up against some porous defenses, too. Clay is a tough guy to play on the road this week.