Sneaky Starts: Week 11
Welcome to Week 11! The Bills, Browns, Dolphins, Patriots, Jets and 49ers are all on bye, while Cooper Kupp is out for the year and Randall Cobb is out for Week 11. All these byes and injuries definitely take their toll throughout the season, and more than a few owners will be scrambling for spot starts this week.
A great 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.
Last week, I discussed Baker Mayfield, Marcus Mariota, Blake Bortles, Dak Prescott, Aaron Jones, Mike Davis, Duke Johnson, Donte Moncrief, John Ross, Josh Doctson and Vance McDonald in this space. Let’s see if we can dig up a few more gems for Week 11.
Dak Prescott, Cowboys (@ ATL, 31)
Prescott has been good (fantasy-wise) in his last four outings, averaging 21.6 fantasy points against Jacksonville, Washington, Tennessee and Philadelphia. I’m mentioning his opponents during this stretch because they’re all in the top half of QB aFPA. His schedule is going to lighten up significantly for the remainder of the season starting with his Week 11 matchup against the Falcons, who are No. 31 in QB aFPA. They’ve yielded 216/3 to Baker Mayfield, 306/1 to Alex Smith and 399/1 to Eli Manning in their last three games.
Eli Manning, Giants (vs. TB, 30)
Eli’s matchup is great—the Bucs are No. 30 in QB aFPA, and over the past four weeks they’ve allowed an average of 230 yards and 1.8 touchdowns to Alex Smith, Cam Newton, Andy Dalton and Baker Mayfield. Newton, Dalton and Mayfield all scored 20.2+ fantasy points. The only problem may be that the game is at home, since Manning has reverse home/splits going. In five away games, he’s averaging 18.2 fantasy points and in four home games, he’s averaging 10.4 fantasy points. While that’s a bit troubling, Manning should be able to take advantage of a bad Tampa defense.
Marcus Mariota, Titans (@ IND, 29)
It seems like Mariota is playing better now that he had the bye week to allow his elbow to fully heal. Since the Titans’ Week 8 bye, Mariota has posted 22.8 fantasy points against Dallas (240/2 in the passing game plus 32 yards and a touchdown as a runner) and 21.3 fantasy points against the Patriots (228/2 plus 21 rushing yards). Meanwhile, the Colts have given up 320/2 to Blake Bortles and 244/3 to Derek Carr in the last two weeks.
Lamar Jackson, Ravens (vs. CIN, 25)
I’m mentioning Jackson here in the event that Joe Flacco (hip) is unable to play. Jackson will score quite a few fantasy points with his feet, but the Bengals have been getting shredded through the air as well. Cincy has yielded an average of 364 yards and 3.3 touchdowns to Drew Brees, Ryan Fitzpatrick/Jameis Winston and Patrick Mahomes.
Josh Rosen, Cardinals (vs. OAK, 23)
Desperate owners could turn to Rosen, who faces a Raiders team that is seemingly playing for the No. 1 overall pick in next year’s NFL Draft. Rosen has shown signs of competency, throwing for 252/2 against the 49ers in Week 8. But really, this is about the Raiders—they’ve given up an average of 241 yards and 2.7 touchdowns to Philip Rivers, Nick Mullens and Andrew Luck over the last three weeks.
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