Nothing is ever easy in fantasy football, and that's what makes it fun. Whether it be injuries, poor matchups or underperformance it's rare that we can count on starting the same players week-in-and-week-out. Sometimes we have to scrape the bottom of the barrel for options in good spots that given week for a desperation play.
Here we look at five candidates each week, one or two from each of the four fantasy-relevant positions that make good spot starts in their upcoming games. These players are widely available on league waiver wires or sitting on the end of your bench, but whether by newfound opportunity or a good matchup, present sneaky value for the coming week.
Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers (3.3 percent owned)
From a fantasy perspective, Colin Kaepernick hit the ground running as the 49ers starter. Kaepernick came away with 18 fantasy points in a terrible game script for offensive success in a game where San Francisco was never competitive facing Buffalo on a long cross-country road trip. He only threw for 187 yards and a touchdown on a blown coverage. Yet, as we knew would be the case, his rushing ability kept his floor afloat with the 66 yards he chipped in on the ground.
In his second start of the 2016 season, Kaepernick and the 49ers offense will face a much better matchup when they get Tampa Bay at home. The Buccaneers pass defense checks in among the worst in the league in several efficiency metrics. The unit gives up the eighth-highest touchdown rate (5.7), the most yards per completion and ranks 23rd in Football Outsiders DVOA. That looks even worse in context when you realize that after starting the season against Matt Ryan and Carson Palmer, the Bucs played Case Keenum, rookie Paxton Lynch and Derek Anderson all in their home stadium.
Colin Kaepernick has a solid floor with his rushing ability and has access to a tangible ceiling this week in a favorable spot at home. The Bucs shouldn't completely run away from the 49ers, who play better defense at home, and Kaepernick should post a solid passing day at worst. Kaepernick is the top low-owned quarterback streamer this week. Don't be surprised if he cracks 20 fantasy points.
Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (5.7 percent owned)
With Charles Sims put on injured reserve heading into the Monday night game in Week 5, Jacquizz Rodgers got the start and handled a whopping 35 touches and totaled 129 total yards against the Panthers. Both figures were career-highs for the sixth-year running back. Doug Martin is expected to return to game action this week, but he did not practice on Monday. Should Martin miss this game, Rodgers would be a must-start, but even if Martin does go he could be limited and the team would call on him to handle a portion of the touches. Regardless, Rodgers has a solid potential floor as the team's pass-catching back with Sims out of the mix and had a two-year stretch early in his Atlanta career when he caught 105 passes out of the backfield.
Whoever takes the majority of the touches for the Tampa Bay will be in a great spot despite playing across the country in San Francisco. A weak front for the 49ers has completely fallen apart with Navarro Bowman on IR. The 49ers give up the most yards per game to running backs (149) and allow the second-highest yards per carry average (5.11). LeSean McCoy just clipped them for three rushing touchdowns in Week 6.
Ty Montgomery, WR, Green Bay Packers (0.3 percent owned)
The Packers desperation trade for Knile Davis this morning, less than three days before their Thursday night game with the Bears doesn't speak to much confidence in Eddie Lacy's health. With questions in the backfield, Green Bay turned to utility Ty Montgomery. The second-year receiver played 51 percent of the team's offensive plays and lined up in the backfield on 22 of 33 snaps. He totaled six catches and 52 yards as a running back, and collected the last four for 46 as a traditional wide receiver. Montgomery is a threat in space, and he totaled 77 yards after the catch.
Using Montgomery is more of an opportunity leverage play than anything else. He's going to be on the field a good amount for the Packers with Lacy a question mark and Davante Adams (concussion) and Randall Cobb (back) both not practicing Monday. Being on the field and getting opportunities has the highest correlation to scoring fantasy points. The Bears aren't a scary pass defense. Chicago allows the eighth-highest yards per target to wide receivers (8.54), the 11th-highest yards per game (178) and sixth-highest catch rate (64.8 percent). Montgomery could once again threaten for double-digit catches in Week 6.
Pierre Garcon, WR, Washington Redskins (29 percent owned)
The public has not taken account of the changing tides in Washington's wide receiver corps. Over the last three weeks Pierre Garcon ranks first among the team's wide receivers in the following categories:
Snap share: 76 percent
Red zone targets: five
The Lions pass defense has really started to show some cracks the last few weeks, and that culminated in allowing a 136-yard and two touchdown outburst to Kenny Britt last week. Detroit gives up a 71.9 percent catch rate to wide receivers, 9.56 yards per target and 7.9 touchdown rate. All of those efficiency metrics rank in the bottom-five of NFL pass defenses. Garcon takes 54 percent of his routes on the offensive left and should see the Lions inferior corner, Nevin Lawson, on at least a few routes. Garcon hasn't turned his growing opportunity into a big game yet, but this could be it.
C.J. Fiedorowicz, TE, Houston Texans (0.9 percent owned)
We didn't imagine that the tight end would be a central part of the Texans offense, but that's exactly what's come to pass this season. Over the last three weeks C.J. Fiedorowicz is second on the team in targets (19) and has a team-leading 185 yards and two touchdowns over that span. Additionally, he has a team-high three red zone targets and went out for 67 percent of the team's snaps. The opportunity dictates that Fiedorowicz can be a solid fill-in play during the bye weeks.
We know Denver is overall a strong defense, but they do have some holes to exploit in their middle of the field coverage. Per Next Gen Stats, the Broncos allow the most yards in the NFL to running backs and tight ends lined up in the slot with 414. Quarterbacks also have a 123.2 passer rating on the throws where they target those players. Hunter Henry just stung them for four six catches and 53 percent of his yards last Thursday when lined up in the slot, while Antonio Gates chipped in both his catches when deployed in that position. While we might not think of the big-bodied Fiedorowicz as a move tight end, he has lined up in the slot on 25 plays this year and has one of his two touchdowns from that position.