Nothing is ever easy in fantasy football, otherwise, why would it be 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 each 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, they present sneaky value for the coming week.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, QB, New York Jets (15.5 percent owned)
Do we dare consider playing Ryan Fitzpatrick after he's thrown nine interceptions in back-to-back games? We did say this wasn't going to be a safe space. There's no way around it; Fitzpatrick has played like one of the worst quarterbacks in the NFL this season. Aside from the interceptions, he's completed just 50.8 percent of his passes, posted a 35.6 passer rating and averaged 5.32 yards per attempt with an average depth of 9.5 yards on his aimed throws.
With that being said, there is reason to believe he could pay off as a streaming quarterback in Week 5. The Jets travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Ben Roethlisberger-led scoring attack. In their building, the Steelers average 31.6 points per game as opposed to 22.1 on the road dating back to 2014. 2016 looks to be a continuation of that trend with Pittsburgh averaging 33.5 points per game in their two home contests and 20.5 in their two road tilts.
With the Steelers offense putting points on the board in bunches, the Jets will have to give chase to their opponents. Alex Smith was in the same position last week, and while he didn't have a good game on Sunday night, he was the QB11 in Week 4. The Steelers have allowed the third-most passing yards in the NFL and a 64 percent completion rate but just five passing touchdowns. There is some potential for regression here for their defense of passing touchdowns.
Terrance West, RB, Baltimore Ravens (37 percent owned)
Justin Forsett was inactive last week and released Tuesday morning. Terrance West drew the start in replacing Forsett and bruised through the Raiders defense on 21 carries for 113 yards and a touchdown. Plenty of people will be ready to write off West's emergence as just a flash in the pan or a random occurrence, but this follows up a drumbeat we were tracking all offseason. West received waves of praise from the team and beat writers alike before showing off a new authoritative running style in the preseason.
With Forsett gone, West should draw the start once again in Week 5. Exciting rookie Kenneth Dixon should figure in as a receiving back, but it would be a stretch to assume he's going to handle a massive workload after missing a chunk of the preseason and the first four weeks of his NFL career. West should handle the bulk of the between-the-tackles work and be the primary red zone back. West averages 2.6 yards after contact, just .01 off of noted 2016 workhorses Matt Forte, LeGarrette Blount and DeMarco Murray and up from his average of 2.15 average through his first two seasons. If given the requisite carries, West can perform in a capable fashion.
With opportunity presented, West can capitalize in Week 5. The Ravens get Washington in Baltimore on Sunday and no team bleeds more production to the running back position. Washington allowed the most yards to running backs in the NFL through four weeks at 5.1 yards per carry. They have also ceded seven rushing touchdowns. As home favorites, Baltimore should find themselves in a run-heavy or neutral game script, which will keep the ball in West's hands.
Eddie Royal, WR, Chicago Bears (2.7 percent owned)
Kevin White went for an MRI on Monday and is no sure bet to play in Week 5. Surprisingly, White leads the team in targets so his absence would open up the opportunity for slot receiver Eddie Royal. While it might seem like chasing points coming off a week in which Royal snagged all seven of his targets for 111 yards and a touchdown, there's reason to think he can post another strong game.
The Colts released Antonio Cromartie today, further dinging the depth of an already shallow secondary. Royal should run most of his routes against slot corner Patrick Robinson, who has bounced around the NFL after flopping as a first round pick. The Bears travel to Indianapolis to play the Colts a week after they played in London, the first time a team has not taken a bye the following game. The Bears defense doesn't pose much of a threat either, and a high-scoring contest would only improve Royal's outlook in a spot where he could push for eight targets.
Sammie Coates, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers (2.8 percent owned)
Despite the healthy return of Markus Wheaton in his second game action of 2016, Sammie Coates played the second most snaps of any Steelers wideout in Week 5, at 57 percent. Coates also played his most complete game to date. His average depth of target was just 13.4, down from his season average of 27.2. If he's rounding into form as a more full-time player, he must be considered in fantasy as a big-play threat in this offense.
The Jets have allowed 797 yards to the wide receiver position (fourth-most) through four weeks on just 66 targets. Big plays have been an issue for the Jets as receivers average 16.6 yards per reception against them. Darrelle Revis looks like he's taken a notable step back this season, and he might miss that game on Sunday either way. With the Steelers averaging 33 points per game at home this year, Coates could easily get in on the scoring action.
Richard Rodgers, TE, Green Bay Packers (7.5 percent owned)
Starting tight end Jared Cook is out for Week 5 after injuring his ankle in Week 3 prior to the team's bye. Richard Rodgers will once again take over as the team's top player at the position. Rogers scored seven red zone touchdowns last season with Jordy Nelson out of action. Nelson is back this year and is tied for the NFL lead with eight red zone targets, despite playing in just three games. Yet, no other receiver on the Packers has more than three looks inside the 20-yard line to his name.
The Giants haven't given up production to the tight end like they did in 2015, but they've still given up the 10th-most catches to the position. New York did just allow a red zone score to Kyle Rudolph on Monday night along with 55 yards and 14 targets to Jason Witten in Week 1. Their personnel at coverage linebacker and safety is not great, and their early numbers are likely skewed by playing a mistake-prone Coby Fleener in Week 2. Rodgers could put a touchdown on the board against them in a potentially high-scoring contest.