Week 8 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, it’s the Byepocalypse (hat tip to friend of the site, Pat Fitzmaurice), with six teams—the Packers, Titans, Rams, Giants, Cardinals, and Jaguars—all on bye. I don’t blame owners who didn’t consider byes during the draft—I’m one of you—but this is one of those weeks when the proverbial chickens can come home to roost.
With that in mind, let’s see if we can find a few Sneaky Starts to help owners get through Week 8.
Tyrod Taylor, Bills (vs. OAK)
Taylor is the No. 17 quarterback on a per game basis, but a favorable home matchup against the Raiders (No. 24 in QB aFPA) makes him a quality start this week. Over the past two-plus seasons, Taylor has accounted for 1.77 total touchdowns at home versus just 1.22 total touchdowns on the road. His total yardage (257 at home vs. 220 on the road) is also better in Buffalo.
Andy Dalton, Bengals (vs. IND)
After a very rough start to the season, Dalton has benefited from the promotion of Bill Lazor to offensive coordinator, and has posted the No. 13 per game average at his position over the last five weeks. The Colts are No. 29 in QB aFPA and have yielded the second-most passing yards per game this year.
Phillip Rivers, Chargers (@ NE)
Rivers has thrown an average of 2.0 passing touchdowns in his last four games and has a tantalizing matchup with the Patriots, who are No. 30 in QB aFPA.
Josh McCown, Jets (vs. ATL)
The Falcons are a mediocre matchup for McCown—Atlanta is No. 17 in QB aFPA—but Matt Ryan and Co. should bounce back with a better offensive effort in Week 8, and that will force McCown to air it out to stay in the game. He has accounted for 8 total touchdowns in the last three games, including 4 last week against the Dolphins.
Case Keenum, Vikings (@ CLE)
The Browns did a good job of limiting Marcus Mariota last week, but in the three weeks prior, they yielded 9 combined touchdowns to Deshaun Watson, Josh McCown, and Andy Dalton. Keenum is strictly a matchup play this week, since he has thrown only 2 touchdowns in his last four games.
C.J. Beathard (@ PHI), Trevor Siemian (@ KC), and Mitch Trubisky (@ NO) are all on the road in mediocre to semi-favorable matchups. These are hold-your-nose-and-hope-for-the-best plays this week. Joe Flacco (vs. MIA) has been mostly dreadful this season, but he’s usually better at home and the Dolphins are No. 21 in QB aFPA.
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