Sneaky Starts: Week 5
Welcome to Week 5!
Leonard Fournette is injured again, T.Y. Hilton is out, and both Julian Edelman and Mark Ingram are back from their respective suspensions. Injuries are cropping up and owners may need a 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 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. And now that we have four weeks under our proverbial belts, our aFPA has been updated with 2018 data.
Last week, I discussed Andy Dalton, Joe Flacco, Sony Michel, James White, Matt Breida, Austin Ekeler, Nyheim Hines, Sterling Shepard, Tyler Boyd, Calvin Ridley and Eric Ebron in this space. Let’s see if we can dig up a few more gems for Week 5.
Blake Bortles, Jaguars (@ KC, 30 in QB aFPA)
Leonard Fournette has missed five games over the past season-plus and in those games, Bortles has stepped it up to the tune of 288 yards, 1.8 touchdowns and a very un-Bortles-like 0.2 interceptions. The Chiefs contained the Denver passing game on Monday night, but gave up an average of 376 yards and 2.7 touchdowns to Philip Rivers, Ben Roethlisberger and Jimmy Garoppolo in the first three weeks.
Alex Smith, Redskins (@ NO, 31)
Smith’s season is off to a good start in the real world (2-1 record and a 102.2 QB Rating), but his fantasy production has left a little to be desired. He owns the No. 18 per game average through three games, but he has shown a high floor with a low week of 13.1 fantasy points. With Washington coming off its bye, head coach Jay Gruden has had a chance to make a few adjustments. And the matchup against the Saints (No. 31 in QB aFPA) looks great. New Orleans gave up a combined 791 total yards and nine touchdowns to Matt Ryan and Ryan Fitzpatrick in recent weeks.
Joe Flacco, Ravens (@ CLE, 4)
Flacco owns the No. 15 per game average at his position and has scored at least 15.3 fantasy points in every game this season. The Browns look tough on paper (No. 4 QB aFPA), but they just gave up 437 yards and four touchdowns to Derek Carr. Flacco should be able to post another nice fantasy line in Week 5.
Derek Carr, Raiders (@ LAC, 23)
Speaking of Carr, he’s coming off a big game against the Browns, but the Oakland passing game has shown a bit of life all year. Carr has thrown for over 300 yards in three of his four games this season, and is averaging 343 yards on the year. Oakland is also throwing the ball more (42.3 attempts per game), which helps to raise Carr’s floor. The matchup is good, too—the Chargers have yielded an average of 288 yards and 2.5 touchdowns per game to C.J. Beathard, Jared Goff, Josh Allen and Patrick Mahomes. With a 53.5 over/under, this is expected to be a shootout.
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