Week 11 Fantasy Football Sneaky Starts
All but the luckiest fantasy owners at some point need to find the proverbial diamond in the rough—a waiver wire or bench player 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.
A good way to identify a potential spot start is to leverage 4for4’s signature strength-of-schedule metric, adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA). Many sites publish raw fantasy points allowed by position, but 4for4 goes a step further and adjusts those numbers for a defense’s relative year-to-date schedule strength. So if a defense has seen a murderer’s row of running backs, it will be reflected in the defense’s aFPA. As a ranker, I use this metric weekly when putting together our award-winning projections.
There are four teams on bye this week—the Colts, Jets, 49ers, and Panthers—while Devonta Freeman, Will Fuller, Ty Montgomery, Aaron Jones, Chris Hogan, Jordan Reed, Zach Ertz, and Philip Rivers are all dealing with injuries that may (or will) keep them out of Week 11.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best Sneaky Starts for this week:
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buccaneers (@ MIA)
Fitzpatrick was a disappointment against the Jets—187 yards with a touchdown and an interception—but he has another good matchup this week against the Dolphins (No. 26 in QB aFPA), and Mike Evans will return from suspension.
Blake Bortles, Jaguars (@ CLE)
The Browns are last in the league in QB aFPA, so this is mainly a matchup play. In their last two games, the Browns have yielded 537 combined yards and 5 combined touchdowns to Matthew Stafford and Case Keenum. Cleveland is also pretty good against the run, which may funnel a few more plays to the passing game.
Case Keenum, Vikings (vs. LAR)
Keenum threw 4 touchdowns last week against Washington and had two in the previous game against the Browns. The Rams are a tough matchup (No. 2 in QB aFPA), but he’s hot right now, so fantasy owners in need might as well roll the dice. Note: The Vikings were reportedly “very tempted” to start Teddy Bridgewater this week, but Keenum’s 4-touchdown effort bought him another start. If he struggles, he may get yanked.
Jay Cutler, Dolphins (vs. TB)
Cutler has thrown at least 2 touchdowns in each of his last four games. His yardage in that span—203 per game—isn’t great, but the matchup against the Bucs is good (No. 25 in QB aFPA).
Eli Manning, Giants (vs. KC)
Don’t look now, but Eli might be hot. He has 493 yards and 4 touchdowns in his last two games and has a pretty nice matchup at home against the Chiefs, who have yielded 6 passing touchdowns over the last three games (to Dak Prescott, Trevor Siemian, and Derek Carr). The Giants will likely have to throw the ball to keep pace with the Chiefs.
Blaine Gabbert, Cardinals (@ HOU)
The Texans are just getting demolished through the air. In the last three games, Houston has given up an average of 372 yards and 3.0 touchdowns to Jared Goff, Jacoby Brissett, and Russell Wilson. Gabbert is a far cry from Goff/Wilson, but he has several weapons to throw to and can add points as a runner—he averaged 29 yards rushing in six games with the 49ers last season.
Brett Hundley (vs. BAL) and Joe Flacco (@ GB) are both worth a look for desperate owners. Hundley settled in a bit against the Bears, throwing for 212 yards and a touchdown while adding another 16 yards on the ground. Flacco, while #elite, is a pure matchup play against a poor Packer secondary.
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