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 should you be so daring as to play fantasy in Week 17.
Tom Savage, QB, Houston Texans
The Titans pass defense has fallen apart in the second act of the 2016 NFL season. Since Week 10 they've allowed passing yardage totals of 333, 251, 316, 330, 159 and 331. The low total of 159 came in a game where they allowed 157 rushing yards to the Chiefs, not so coincidentally the most they've allowed in Weeks 10-16.
Last week was the ultimate example in their futility, as they allowed Blake Bortles to have by far his best game in what has been a dreadful season. The Jaguars won that game and Bortles posted a 103.5 passer rating while feeding his all-too-quiet No. 1 receiver nine catches for 147 receiving yards. To add another layer of insult, they gave up a passing touchdown to Marqise Lee, who had never thrown a pass in his NFL or college career prior to that.
Tom Savage wasn't great in his first NFL start, but did get better in the second half. One of Savage's biggest issues was his work against the blitz as he posted a 75.9 passer rating when the Bengals sent five or more pass rushers. The Titans aren't a fearsome pass rushing team, as they rank just 14th in sack rate on the season.
Darren McFadden, RB, Dallas Cowboys
The Cowboys don't appear to be in any real hurry to pull their starters, as Dak Prescott played the entire game on Monday night. The Cowboys rightly want to keep up some of the momentum that they've built this year as they head to the NFC playoffs. However, the team did begin to limit Ezekiel Elliott's work as the game wore on. Darren McFadden, who is now the de facto No. 2 runner with Alfred Morris made inactive the last two games, had 12 carries to Elliott's four in the second half.
If the Cowboys limit their rookie rusher in Week 17 with a game that means nothing on the docket, McFadden could approach 15 touches. He's heading into a fine spot, if he gets that workload. The Eagles have allowed an average of 113 rushing yards per game over the last six weeks with 372 total the last three contests. We know Darren McFadden was a useful starter last year and looked fresh and ready to contribute in his limited looks on Monday night.
Eli Rogers, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
The Steelers are another team that could rest their high-end starters for portions of Week 17. If so, Eli Rogers stands to benefit from an increase in opportunity. Rogers has run ahead of all other non-Antonio BrownSteelers in every game since Week 12. His snap percentage has been on a general trend upward in Weeks 12 to 16, with 50, 62, 47, 64 and 76 percent of the snaps. The Browns gave up 300-plus passing yards last week for the first time since Week 5, as the Chargers actually had to chase Cleveland. This showed their secondary is still quite beatable, if their league-high 33 touchdowns allowed didn't already convince you enough.
Kenny Stills, WR, Miami Dolphins
At this point, why not? Kenny Stills has scored a touchdown in five of the Dolphins' eight games since their Week 8 bye. Stills has led the Dolphins in targets in three out of the last four weeks. He scored his Week 16 touchdown from inside the red zone, too, rather than on his out-of-nowhere usual long bomb. Stills was the only pass-catcher to garner a target inside the 10-yard line on Saturday, leaving behind Jarvis Landry and DeVante Parker. Stills has essentially replaced the latter as the No. 2 receiver, as Parker was on the field for just 77 percent of the snaps compared to 86 percent for Stills.
The Patriots still have to wrap up the No. 1 seed in the AFC. That should be enough for them to push to gain an early lead and put the Dolphins in a negative game script. A scenario such as this would force the Dolphins to throw and potentially earn Stills eight or more targets. He'll be a threat for a big play or two if that unfolds.
Coby Fleener, TE, New Orleans Saints
The tight end positon has been such a disaster this year that by now you must have accepted that trying to stream the positon is an utter and complete roll of the dice. How can we illustrate that? Fantasy draft and free agent acquisition flop Coby Fleener is the TE9 on the season with 593 yards and four total touchdowns. Is that a glowing endorsement to start him in Week 17? Not really, but he has some touchdown equity in what should be one of the highest scoring games when the Saints travel to Atlanta to take on a Falcons team still looking to clinch a first-round bye. The Falcons give up the fourth-most targets (128) to tight ends on the season and Fleener had his only 100-yard game against them this season back in Week 3.