Without any NFL teams on a bye from Week 13 on out, if fantasy owners are scrapping for playmakers on the waiver wire, they are probably on the very fringes of playoff contention.
However, there are some fill-in spot starters who are conceivable threats to produce strong numbers based on their matchups and most recent performances.
While the forecast for these offensive standouts won't be quite as favorable as that for the premier players in pro football, it at least provides fantasy owners in need a chance at notching a critical victory this coming week.
Matt Flynn, QB, Green Bay Packers
After missing out on opportunities to seize starting jobs in Seattle and Oakland, Flynn has returned to the familiar, comforting colors of the Pack.
Even though Flynn didn't get the first-team reps in practice last week, he did an admirable fill-in job for starter Scott Tolzien in completing 21 of 36 passes for 218 yards and a touchdown in the tie against the Minnesota Vikings.
Now that the signal-caller is getting acclimated once again to the offense he's had success in before, there aren't many better spot-start players available at the quarterback position.
With Jordy Nelson and James Jones as weapons in the passing game and rookie Eddie Lacy to set up throwing lanes with his powerful, punishing runs between the tackles, there is a chance for Flynn to succeed in Week 13.
Head coach Mike McCarthy hasn't exactly committed to Flynn, per Packers.com's Mike Spofford. But based on his performance this past Sunday, it'd be a bit of a surprise to see him go back to Tolzien.
It's a quick turnaround to Thursday's Thanksgiving matchup with the NFC North rival Detroit Lions. However, Flynn will be facing a defense that yields 276.8 yards per game through the air—28th in the league.
The Lions are also the team Flynn tossed six touchdowns against in Week 17 of the 2011 campaign, parlaying that performance into his initial departure from Green Bay.
So there are some good vibes going on here, for whatever that's worth.
This is a chance for Flynn to prove himself...again. He's likely to get it done, and with his limited arm strength, playing indoors at Ford Field actually helps. Heck, this trippy, nostalgic scenario may even have the Packers atop the NFC North again.
Projected Numbers: 20-of-30 passing for 240 yards, 3 TDs, 1 INT; 3 carries, 20 yards
Benny Cunningham, RB, St. Louis Rams
The rookie runner who has been rampaging through defenses has been Zac Stacy, but unfortunately, a concussion has his status for Week 13 up in the air.
Cunningham took over for Stacy in the most recent 42-21 win over the Chicago Bears and devastated a depleted defensive line in scampering for 109 yards and a touchdown on only 13 carries.
Talk about production. That shot Cunningham's yards-per-carry average on the season up to 6.0, which bodes well for him moving forward, even if he's in a timeshare situation.
Yes, traveling to Candlestick Park to take on the San Francisco 49ers is a daunting task, but the current Rams nucleus has proven capable of playing the Niners tough, as evident by St. Louis' 1-0-1 record against them last season.
Quarterback Kellen Clemens isn't going to take to the air too often, so look for gadget plays from dynamic first-round pick Tavon Austin as well as a heavy dose of Cunningham, hopefully Stacy and the Rams' rushing attack.
Projected Numbers: 12 carries, 75 yards, TD; 1 reception, 10 yards
Justin Hunter, WR, Tennessee Titans
Hunter is worth a fantasy flier after his breakout performance with six catches on six targets for 108 yards and a touchdown against the Oakland Raiders in Week 12.
The rookie second-round pick hadn't seen anything resembling that production and was coming off of a concussion, but he showed no ill effects. Check out this 54-yard touchdown grab:
With Hunter's 6'4", 203-pound frame, QB Ryan Fitzpatrick should look to him with increasing frequency, especially after he hit him on every pass he sailed his way in Oakland.
Defenses are having to account for Kendall Wright, freeing up Hunter to get vertical. As long as Fitzpatrick can get it out to him, Hunter is a good bet to win jump balls.
Fitzpatrick also lit it up not long ago for Tennessee when it played the AFC South-leading Indianapolis Colts in Week 12, throwing for 222 yards on only 28 attempts and a touchdown.
That type of efficiency should help Hunter continue his momentum and put up another stellar effort in Week 13 at Lucas Oil Stadium.
Projected Numbers: 5 receptions, 60 yards, TD
Rob Housler, TE, Arizona Cardinals
Not only is Housler of great value on the waiver wire, but he could also turn out to be one of the top sleepers in Week 13.
With Michael Floyd dominating in the past two games in racking up over 300 combined receiving yards and Larry Fitzgerald being himself, the Cardinals' passing attack is as dangerous as it's been since the Kurt Warner era.
One overlooked weapon at the moment is Housler—a 6'5", 250-pound athlete who is still learning the nuances of head coach Bruce Arians' offense.
Now it seems Housler is settling in while gaining the trust of QB Carson Palmer in the process. With four catches for 51 yards on five targets in Week 12's 40-11 blowout of the Indianapolis Colts, Housler continued his improvement.
The third-year pro has just one touchdown in his career, but that could very well change when Arizona travels to Philadelphia to take on the Eagles' last-ranked pass defense on Sunday.
With the already-suspect secondary having to account for Floyd and Fitzgerald, the makings of a career day for Housler are in place.
Projected Numbers: 6 receptions, 80 yards, TD
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