Week 5 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.
This week, four teams—Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans, and Washington—are on bye, while Marcus Mariota (hamstring), Ty Montgomery (rib), and Davante Adams (concussion) are dealing with injuries that may keep them out of Week 5. In addition, Dalvin Cook (ACL), Chris Carson (ankle), and Jordan Matthews (thumb) suffered season-ending or multi-week injuries.
In short, fantasy owners have some work to do, so let’s get to it.
Note: Jameis Winston (@ NE) is a no-brainer start this week.
Deshaun Watson, Texans (vs. KC)
Watson had two great matchups in the last two weeks and delivered 301 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Patriots before last week’s 283-yard, 4-touchdown explosion against the Titans. This doesn’t even include the 65 rushing yards (and a touchdown) that he added as a runner. The matchup against the Chiefs is much tougher, but Watson should still be able to deliver QB1 numbers in Week 5.
Eli Manning, Giants (vs. LAC)
Manning is coming off a couple of good fantasy outings. He posted 366 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Eagles in Week 3 before racking up 288 yards and 2 touchdowns against the Bucs in Week 4. He even added a rare rushing touchdown in Tampa. This week, he faces the Chargers (No. 20 in QB aFPA), who have yielded an average of 1.5 passing touchdowns through the first four weeks. Manning has enough weapons to find the end zone a couple of times in Week 5.
Jacoby Brissett, Colts (vs. SF)
After a tough road matchup in Seattle, Brissett heads home to face the 49ers in the dome. For the most part, San Francisco has stayed competitive on the defensive side of the ball, but Brissett should be able to produce fantasy points one way or the other. The last time he played at home (against the Browns), he posted 273 total yards and 3 touchdowns.
Jared Goff, Rams (vs. SEA)
The Seahawks are No. 10 in QB aFPA, but they aren’t quite as formidable on the road. Goff enters Week 5 as the league-leader in yards per attempt (9.13) and has scored 5 touchdowns in his last two outings.
DeShone Kizer, Browns (vs. NYJ)
Kizer is a threat to throw three picks, but he could also run for multiple touchdowns in any given week. The Jets are coming off of back-to-back home wins, but yielded 5 touchdowns to Derek Carr and Tyrod Taylor in the first two weeks.
Jay Cutler, Dolphins (vs. TEN)
Maybe the third time is the charm? I feel terrible recommending Cutler again this week, and I have almost no confidence in the Miami passing attack right now. But the matchup! The Titans have given up 4 passing touchdowns in each of the last two weeks (to Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson), so Cutler has to produce this week, right? Right?
Brian Hoyer, 49ers (@ IND)
The Colts pass defense isn’t very good, yielding 8.5 yards per attempt through four weeks. Outside of a three-touchdown effort against the Rams in Week 3, Hoyer has had a rough year. But the 49ers should be able to move the ball against the Colts, and Hoyer should be responsible for a couple of touchdowns along the way.
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