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 will 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. With the fantasy playoffs at our doorstep, these players should hopefully be sitting on the end of your bench, but whether by newfound opportunity or a good matchup, they present sneaky value for the coming week or even into the fantasy postseason.
Colin Kaepernick, QB, San Francisco 49ers
Listen, Colin Kaepernick continues to produce as a fantasy quarterback, as he's the 11th highest scoring passer over the last four weeks. Since the 49ers bye week Kaepernick's weekly finish at the position has been inside the Top-12 five out seven games. While the Rams and 49ers "duel" might well be one of the lowest scoring games of the week, San Francisco's horrific defense might be enough to keep the offense in negative game script for most of the game despite their opponent's utter futility. The Rams pass defense has been one of the worst in the NFL over the last month, giving up a league-high 11 touchdowns and an average of 261.3 yards per game.
Charles Sims, RB, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
There's little chance the Bucs matchup against the Saints follows the same slow pace that it did in their first meeting when the Saints ran just 58 plays. For context, they lead the NFL in plays run on the year and they went for 83 against the Cardinals in Week 15. With more points sure to go around, and the Saints likely to follow the blueprint provided by the Cowboys on Sunday night to get up on Tampa in a hurry, Charles Sims is in a spot to find some success.
Sims' playing time went up in Week 15 from 14 offensive plays in his first game back to 21. He played on just three run downs but 18 passing plays. New Orleans allows 8.26 yards per target to running backs through the air, so Sims should be in position to make plays.
Cameron Meredith, WR, Chicago Bears
Of course it is great that Alshon Jeffery is back and that he went right back to work with 89 yards and a score last week. However, his teammate Cameron Meredith still led the team last week with 13 targets and nine catches. Meredith leads the Bears with 12 red zone targets on the season, seven of which have come from Barkley began his run as a starter. Despite Jeffery's presence, Meredith still collected three last week. There's plenty of volume to go around as Matt Barkley is averaging 43 pass attempts per game in his three losing starts.
Meredith might actually have the better matchup this week as since Barkley took over as the starter he's been playing as the primary slot receiver, with 71.3% of his targets coming from the slot the last four weeks. This should help him avoid Josh Norman who typically shadows top receivers or plays left corner. The Panthers had success tearing up Washington while avoiding Norman last night as Cam Newton only targeted him five times.
Malcolm Mitchell, WR, New England Patriots
Malcolm Mitchell predictably did not produce for fantasy last week with just one catch on his lone target of the day. That is to be expected against a Denver secondary that clamps down on outside pass catchers. We know the Patriots will avoid an opposing team's strengths at all cost and default to attacking their weaknesses.
In Week 16 Mitchell should be back on the radar as the Patriots take on the Jets, who Mitchell already stung for two touchdowns in their first meeting. New York just gave up a four touchdown game to Matt Moore despite him throwing just 18 passes last week and another four touchdown outing to Andrew Luck two games before that. This secondary is still among the worst in the NFL.
Jack Doyle, TE, Indianapolis Colts
Even though it was Dwayne Allen who broke through with the big game on Monday Night Football back in Week 13, it's been Jack Doyle who has led the pack at tight end. Doyle far and away led the team with a 73 percent share of the team's snaps in Week 15, while Allen was down to 47 percent and intriguing athlete Erik Swoope was up to 37 percent.
The Colts road trip to Oakland figures to be one of the highest-scoring games of the week. Doyle should see some shots at the red zone and at this point, is the preferred Colts tight end to chase if you're in need of a dart-throw. The Raiders allow top-10 figures in yards per game and yards per reception to tight ends despite being just 17th in targets against.