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.
Carson Palmer, QB, Arizona Cardinals
The clouds have come out on Carson Palmer this season. Along with the entire Arizona team, the output in 2016 has not been anything like the sterling year the team enjoyed last season. Palmer had five interceptions from Weeks 10 to 12 as he struggled coming off the Cardinals bye week. However, those middling games are sandwiched between two 300-yard, three touchdown performances in Weeks 8 and 13. Palmer faced the Panthers and Redskins in those games, showing we can still chase him against weak secondaries.
We'll employ that strategy in Week 14 as the Dolphins travel to Arizona. We've known the Dolphins have weak personnel in the secondary, and that was readily apparent in Week 13. Joe Flacco had not thrown multiple touchdown passes against any team that didn't call Cleveland home until he dropped four on Miami last week. Their defense is starting to crumble in general, allowing the fifth-most yards and an NFL-high 10 touchdowns over the last month. While Palmer has been dropped in plenty of leagues and is no longer in the every-week circle of trust, this is a week to let him back in for a quick stay.
Bilal Powell, RB, New York Jets
The secondary back on the Jets was on the field for 28 offensive plays on Monday Night Football, despite only getting two touches. The game script was just far too negative for Bilal Powell to make much of a dent. The 49ers should provide a much easier test for the Jets, and the game should remain more run-friendly. San Francisco has allowed 1,778 yards to running backs this year, almost a full 300 yards more than the 31st ranked run defense. As long as Powell gets a decent amount of touches, and he could push for 10-plus in this spot, he should provide enough juice as a logical dart throw.
Ted Ginn, WR, Carolina Panthers
The fantasy world spent months arguing over Kelvin Benjamin and Devin Funchess, and yet, it's been Ted Ginn that's the hot hand of late. Ginn has scored a touchdown in each of the last three games and has a rush attempt in the last four. It's not just fluky touchdown production that has propped him up either, the volume is flowing his way, as well. Ginn consistently runs as the No. 2 receiver, and has target totals of seven, eight, four, 10 and six the last five weeks.
Ty Montgomery, WR, Green Bay Packers
Last week, the Packers running game struggles were on full display. Starter James Starks was the most inefficient running back in the NFL, per Next Gen Stats, as he averaged 57.2 yards traveled for every rush yard gained in Week 13. That's such a ridiculously higher number, and an outlier for Starks who always carries a high mark anyways, that there are rumblings of the metric being renamed "The Starks Score" going forward (mostly by me).
While Christine Michael didn't provide much relief or assistance, receiver/runner hybrid Ty Montgomery did play 50 percent of the team's snaps. That's the most he's played since he was out for 69 percent of the snaps in his big game against the Bears. Perhaps this is a sign that he's getting past his health issues after being diagnosed with sickle cell a few weeks ago. Montgomery took 90 percent of his plays from the backfield, cementing where he stands with the team. Aaron Rodgers may not be so keen to throw into the coverage of the outside coverage of the Seahawks, but rather the short areas and middle of the field with Earl Thomas out.
Dennis Pitta, TE Baltimore Ravens
This may feel like chasing points, but Dennis Pitta was regularly involved in the offense even before his two touchdown eruption in Week 13. Pitta averages 7.25 targets per game, which only trails Jordan Reed, Greg Olsen, Kyle Rudolph and Travis Kelce among tight ends. Coming into last week he had recorded the most yards from scrimmage without scoring a touchdown. The positive regression began last week, but could keep rolling into the coming weeks.