All but the luckiest fantasy owners at some point need to find the proverbial diamond in the rough—a waiver-wire or bench player who is capable of putting up some points in a pinch. This weekly feature is dedicated to that part of fantasy football. It's not pretty, but it's part of the game.
David Johnson, Danny Woodhead and Allen Robinson all suffered long-term or season-ending injuries in Week 1, which will force their owners to look elsewhere for fantasy points. Below are a few players who are poised to produce at a higher rate than usual.
Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Buccaneers (vs. Bears)
Doug Martin begins his three-game suspension this week, so Rodgers will likely retain his Sneaky Start status in Week 3 and Week 4. Rodgers has seen at least 12 carries in seven games over the past four years. In those games, he averaged 97 total yards and 0.57 TD on 22.2 touches (4.25 yards per carry). After Martin’s injury last season, the Bucs initially tried Charles Sims as the lead back, but eventually Rodgers took over. In the last five games Martin missed, Rodgers averaged 23.4 touches for 105.4 yards and 0.40 touchdowns. With Sims healthy and involved, I’m not expecting that type of workload, but 15-18 touches seems likely. Due to his size (5' 7", 190 pounds), Rodgers is not considered an every-down back, but he’s certainly capable of carrying the load when called upon.
Tarik Cohen, RB, Bears (at Buccaneers)
The diminutive rookie turned 13 touches into 113 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons, who are notoriously bad against pass-catching running backs. Still, given the season-ending injuries to the Chicago receiving corps (Cameron Meredith, Kevin White), the Bears are severely lacking playmakers in the passing game. This is an area where Cohen can contribute, as evidenced by his eight catches for 47 yards and a score, on an eye-popping 12 targets, as a receiver in Week 1. He’s also a more than capable rusher, evidenced by the 3,131 rushing yards he racked up in his final two years at North Carolina A&T.
Chris Hogan, WR, Patriots (at Saints)
Hogan was expected to do more in Week 1, but he’s in a great spot as he faces a New Orleans secondary that just gave up a combined 16 catches for 249 yards and two touchdowns to Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen. Hogan and Brandin Cooks could combine to post a similar line, especially with Danny Amendola looking very iffy as he navigates the concussion protocol.
Coby Fleener, TE, Saints (vs. Patriots)
Fleener was a Sneaky Start last week and he delivered five catches for 54 yards and a touchdown, on six targets, against a good Vikings defense. It’s a very small sample, but in the two games that Fleener has played as a Saint with Willie Snead sidelined, he has averaged 6.0 catches for 82 yards and a touchdown (on 8.5 targets), which is good for 20.2 PPR fantasy points. The Saints return home for what should be a shootout against a shaky New England pass defense.