Sneaky Starts: Week 15

Dec 12, 2018
Sneaky Starts: Week 15

Welcome to Week 15! Most leagues are holding their semifinals this week, so we’re obviously in crunch time. Unfortunately, there are several lingering injuries—James Conner, Melvin Gordon, Carson Wentz, LeSean McCoy, Odell Beckham and DeSean Jackson to name a few—that are throwing a wrench into the best-laid plans.

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 Josh Allen, Austin Ekeler, Spencer Ware, Sterling Shepard, Dante Pettis, Curtis Samuel, Evan Engram and Ian Thomas in this space. Let’s see if we can dig up a few more gems for Week 16.


Josh Allen, Bills (vs. DET, No. 24 in QB aFPA)
Allen has gained 335 yards and two touchdowns on the ground in the last three weeks, and this makes him a compelling streaming option against the Lions. Unfortunately, Detroit has allowed a league-low 64 rushing yards (total!) to quarterbacks this year. This includes games against mobile quarterbacks like Mitch Trubisky (18 yards allowed), Russell Wilson (15), Aaron Rodgers (10), Cam Newton (2) and Dak Prescott (2). In his seven full games, he has generated just 7.5 fantasy points as a passer and an impressive 10.6 points as a runner, so if the Lions are able to contain his ability to get points in the ground, he could have a frustrating afternoon. The one thing working in his favor is that the Lions have been pretty leaky in their pass defense, allowing the third-most fantasy points per pass attempt, and heading into Week 14, Detroit was No. 18 in adjusted fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. On the flip side, the Lions have actually been pretty decent against the position over the last three weeks, allowing an average of 226 passing yards and 1.0 touchdown to Chase Daniel, Jared Goff and Josh Rosen. Allen’s range of outcomes is vast, but for owners looking for upside at the position, he certainly brings it.

Derek Carr, Raiders (@ CIN, 19)
Carr has posted two good fantasy lines in his last two games with 285/3 against Kansas City and 322/2 against Pittsburgh. The Bengals were better than expected against Philip Rivers (220/1) but yielded 258/4 to Baker Mayfield in Week 12 and have given up 8.20 YPA in their last four games.

Nick Foles, Eagles (@ LAR, 16)
Foles’s productivity has been all over the place in eight starts since 2017, including the playoffs. He was obviously great in last year’s postseason, but in two starts this year, he had a bad game against Atlanta (117 passing yards, one interception) before a pretty productive game against the Buccaneers (334 yards and a touchdown). In the seven starts where he attempted at least 30 passes, he averaged 260 yards and 1.71 touchdowns against just 0.43 interceptions, but owners are warned against expecting too much in a tough spot against a surging Rams defense. Still, if he can avoid a multi-interception meltdown, he could have a big fantasy day in garbage time.

Nick Mullens, 49ers (vs. SEA, 17)
After a blistering debut against the hapless Raiders, Mullens survived two subpar outings against the Giants and the Bucs, and put together two nice starts against the Seahawks (414/2) and the Broncos (332/2). He doesn’t add anything as a runner, and he’s averaging 1.2 interceptions per game, but he catches the Seahawks at home on a short week and is capable of putting up another high-yardage game with multiple touchdowns.

Running Backs

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