Week 16 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.
Most leagues hold their championship games in Week 16, so it’s crunch time. Injuries to Aaron Rodgers, Antonio Brown, Davante Adams, Rex Burkhead, Marqise Lee, and Hunter Henry will have more than a few owners scrambling for options. With prize money and bragging rights on the line, let’s take a look at the top Sneaky Starts for Week 16 (positional aFPA in parenthesis):
Joe Flacco, Ravens (vs. IND, 19)
In his last three games—all favorable matchups—Flacco has averaged 275 yards and 2.0 total touchdowns, including a rushing touchdown last week against the Browns. He has a nice matchup against the Colts, who lead the league in yards per attempt allowed (8.3) and are third in passing yards allowed (257). Over the last three seasons, Flacco has averaged 1.47 passing touchdowns at home versus just 0.95 on the road.
Jameis Winston, Buccaneers (@ CAR, 14)
In three games since returning from injury, Winston has averaged 285 yards and 2.3 touchdowns. He has also added around 15 rushing yards per game in that span, which raises his floor. The Panthers aren’t a great matchup, but they’re worse against the pass than they are the run, so it will likely be up to Winston and the passing game to move the ball on Sunday.
Tyrod Taylor, Bills (@ NE, 10)
Taylor posted 23.2 fantasy points last week against the Dolphins, and he has averaged 17.1 fantasy points in the 10 games he has started and finished this season. Unfortunately, his production against the Patriots in recent matchups hasn’t been great. In his last three meetings with New England, dating back to last season, he has averaged just 12.9 fantasy points. Still, the Bills are likely to be throwing more than usual as they try to keep up with the Patriots.
Mitch Trubisky, Bears (vs. CLE, 27)
In a couple of easy matchups, Trubisky posted 271 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Bengals and 314 yards and a score last week against the Lions. He has another favorable matchup this week against the Browns, who are No. 27 in QB aFPA.
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers (vs. JAX, 3)
We get to see if Garoppolo is matchup-proof. Through three-plus games, Garoppolo has produced a stellar 8.92 yards per attempt, but only has 2 passing touchdowns in three starts. The Jaguars have been stingy all year, but in recent weeks they have yielded 271 yards and 3 touchdowns to Russell Wilson and 241 yards and 2 scores to Blaine Gabbert.
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