Sneaky Starts: Week 1
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.
Let's take a look at the top Sneaky Starts for Week 1...
Andy Dalton, Bengals (@ IND)
Dalton looked good in the preseason and has a good set of weapons to throw to in A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert, John Ross, Tyler Boyd, Joe Mixon and Giovani Bernard. Everyone’s healthy, too. Last year, the Colts yielded the ninth-most fantasy points per opponent pass attempt, so the matchup is good as well.
Blake Bortles, Jaguars (@ NYG)
Bortles has three straight finishes in the top 13, and can add points with his legs if the passing game isn’t clicking. But it should click against the Giants, who gave up the third-most fantasy points per opponent pass attempt last season.
Tyrod Taylor, Browns (vs. PIT)
In 44 games over the last three seasons, Taylor has averaged 17.5 fantasy points per game, which would have been good enough to be the No. 8 per game average in 2017. Last season, the Steelers were on the stingy side against the pass, but the matchup is at home and Taylor has arguably the best receiving corps of his career. He gets 31% of his fantasy points as a runner, so that should raise his floor.
Nick Foles, Eagles (vs. ATL)
The 2018 Super Bowl MVP had a bad preseason, but he’s still an intriguing streaming option at home against a middling Falcons pass defense.
Mitch Trubisky, Bears (@ GB)
Trubisky should be better in his second season, but is learning a new offense and has to build a rapport with a bevy of new receivers, and that might take some time. Still, this is a decent spot given the Packers’ porous pass defense in 2017. Green Bay should be improved in this area, but Trubisky could also post good numbers if the Bears find themselves in catch up mode.
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