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. 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.
Brock Osweiler, QB, Houston Texans (7.5 percent owned)
The Brock Osweiler signing has been nothing short of a disaster, no one is debating that. However, the Texans starter could certainly prove to be a good fantasy play this week. Houston welcomes the Detroit Lions to their home stadium this week. The Lions pass defense ranks 31st in Football Outsiders' DVOA metric. Their 18 pass touchdowns allowed are tied with Cleveland for the most in the NFL. Quarterbacks complete an eye-popping 74.2 percent of the passes they attempt against Detroit. No other NFL team has allowed a completion rate over 68.7 percent.
DeAndre Hopkins has just 167 yards and a single touchdown in his last four games. His decline in production has been one of the more disappointing developments of the season thus far. This is a perfect get-right spot for Hopkins, with the Lions top corner Darius Slay in danger of missing this matchup after pulling up with a hamstring injury in Week 7. If Hopkins or even Will Fuller go off in this matchup against a moribund pass defense, some of that production will spill over into Osweiler's fantasy production, like it or not.
Devontae Booker, RB, Denver Broncos (26.3 percent owned)
Sharp players will already have made the move for Booker after his snaps started trending up heading into Week 7. After he took more snaps than C.J. Anderson and rushed for 83 yards and a touchdown on Monday night, he'll probably be the hottest commodity on the waiver wire as Week 8 approaches. For those that did manage to nab him, or plan to later this week, he's absolutely worth playing this week. (Editor's note: This article was posted prior to the news of C.J. Anderson's knee injury. Booker is even more of a priority add now than he was before.)
The Broncos draw the Chargers for their Week 8 matchup, but play in Denver this time around. San Diego's defense looks like it is starting to get better, especially when it comes to rushing the passer with the full integration of top draft pick Joey Bosa. However, they still have some question marks when it comes to slowing down running backs. The Chargers rank 21st in Football Outsiders' run defense DVOA and have allowed 563 yards on the ground at a 4.08 per carry average. They also lead the NFL with 61 receptions allowed to running backs, which could bring Booker into play. Although he only racked up four yards on Monday night, he split the passing down snaps with Anderson, getting 12 while the veteran took 13.
Seth Roberts, WR, Oakland Raiders (0.8 percent owned)
The Buccaneers are one of the worst teams in the NFL at defending the pass. The team gives up over 13 yards per reception to wide receivers and permitted nine touchdowns to the position. They are a middle of the pack pass rushing team with 10 sacks on the season. As a bonus, when their offense matches up with weaker defenses they come out of their shell. Mike Evans and Jacquizz Rodgers should rip through the Raiders defense and force the Oakland attack to take to their air and chase them.
Everyone knows about Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree, and that duo will be in high demand this week against the Bucs. However, don't rule out a solid game from third receiver Seth Roberts. The former undrafted receiver takes 79 percent of his snaps from the slot where he'll match up with the inexperienced Jude Adjei-Barimah, who played 58 percent of the defensive snaps for Tampa in Week 7. Roberts is also a weapon for the Raiders in the scoring area, just ask those wanting more touchdowns from Amari Cooper. Roberts leads the Raiders with six red zone targets, where he's caught three passes and all of which he's turned into touchdowns. If you're looking for a sneaky touchdown scorer during the bye week, look no further than Seth Roberts.
Kendall Wright, WR, Tennessee Titans (1.9 percent owned)
Kendall Wright predictably came back down to earth in Week 7 after his eight-catch, 133-yard and one touchdown performance in Week 6. He followed that up with a 12-yard outing last week. Nevertheless, Wright did see his playing time go up with 49 percent of the snaps played against the Colts after accumulating all that production on just 35 percent of the snaps against the Browns.
Despite trotting out Tajae Sharpe and Andre Johnson for most of the season as starters, Kendall Wright is pretty clearly the team's best receiver. He primarily runs his routes from the slot, where he will matchup with Aaron Colvin of the Jaguars during their Thursday Night Football tilt. Colvin is fresh off of his four-game suspension to start the season before the team went on their bye in Week 5. Seth Roberts snagged all 42 of his yards against Jacksonville on Sunday when lined up in the slot. Wright could have his second big game of the season when playing on NFL Network on Sunday, as he's building up some playing time momentum.
Cameron Brate, TE, Tampa Bay Buccaneers (16.1 percent owned)
Russell Shepard was the initial beneficiary of Vincent Jackson's absence, as he snagged six targets and took one for a touchdown. It would be unwise to chase those points, but rather, we should look for Cameron Brate to start to make some noise here soon. Brate continues to lead the team in tight ends snaps after Austin Seferian-Jenkins' departure. He's also second on the team in red zone targets with six, which only trails Mike Evans' nine. Brate has just two touchdowns on his red zone targets, both of which came in one game. So we can expect his conversion rate to start to even out soon enough.
Week 8 presents another prime opportunity for Brate to get into the end zone and potentially rack up some yardage. The Raiders give up the fifth-most yards to the tight end position at a 13.4 per reception average. Their 7.4 touchdown rate allowed is prime for some positive regression in favor of the opposing tight ends, especially since they rank a measly 26th in Football Outsiders' DVOA metric at defending the position.