Sneaky Starts: Week 7
Week 7 is upon us. The Packers, Raiders, Steelers and Seahawks are on bye. Devonta Freeman is effectively out for the fantasy season after undergoing groin surgery, Cooper Kupp (knee) is probably out for Week 7, and Quincy Enunwa is expected to miss 3-4 weeks with a high ankle sprain. More than a few owners are going to be scrambling to find a diamond in the rough for Week 7.
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 Jameis Winston, Latavius Murray, Corey Clement, Mohamed Sanu, Dede Westbrook, Michael Crabtree, Chester Rogers, Cameron Brate, Austin Hooper and Vance McDonald in this space. Let’s see if we can dig up a few more gems for Week 7.
Joe Flacco, Ravens (vs. NO, 31st in QB aFPA)
After a fairly hot start that had Flacco as the No. 14 quarterback through the first four weeks, Flacco has cooled off with 298/0 and 238/1 in the last two weeks on the road against the Browns and the Titans. This week, the Ravens host the Saints, who yielded 374/5 to Matt Ryan in Week 3, and have given up 9.1 yards per attempt, the second-highest in the league.
Mitch Trubisky, Bears (vs. NE, 18)
Trubisky’s last two games included 354/6 against the Bucs and 316/3 against the Dolphins. Apparently, Mitch loves to play against teams from Florida. It seems like the Chicago passing attack is starting to click, and they’ll face a Patriots defense that has yielded 279 yards and 2.5 touchdowns in its last four games to Patrick Mahomes, Andrew Luck, Ryan Tannehill/Brock Osweiler and Matthew Stafford.
Baker Mayfield, Browns (@ TB, 32)
Mayfield didn’t produce as well as expected at home against the Chargers in Week 6, but I’m willing to roll with him again given his matchup against the Bucs, which is about as good as it gets right now. Tampa has yielded an average of 354 yards and 4.0 touchdowns to Matt Ryan, Mitch Trubisky and Ben Roethlisberger since Week 3 and owns the league’s worst QB aFPA through six weeks.
Blake Bortles, Jaguars (vs. HOU, 25)
It wasn’t always pretty, but Bortles was the No. 12 quarterback through five weeks. Week 6 was a giant disappointment, as Bortles threw for 149 yards, a touchdown and a pick against the Cowboys, that have been good (but not great) against the pass. This week he returns to Jacksonville to face the Texans, who have yielded an average of 323 yards and 2.3 touchdowns to Dak Prescott, Andrew Luck and Eli Manning from Week 3 to Week 5. (I’m not going to include Week 6’s matchup against the Bills for obvious reasons.) In Bortles’ last two home games against the Texans, he has posted 326/3 and 265/2.
C.J. Beathard, 49ers (vs. LAR, 20)
Don’t look now, but Beathard has posted QB1-type numbers over the last three weeks, posting a minimum of 17.8 fantasy points against the Chargers, Cardinals and Packers. In that span, he’s averaged 297/2.0, with 16 yards and 0.3 TD thrown in on the ground for good measure. It’s no secret that the Rams are beat up at cornerback with Aqib Talib on IR and Marcus Peters struggling in coverage. They’ve given up an average of 292/2.5 to Case Keenum, Russell Wilson, Kirk Cousins and Philip Rivers. Now that Beathard has a healthy Marquise Goodwin back—how good did he look against the Packers?!?—Beathard is a legit streaming option on a weekly basis.
Eli Manning, Giants (@ ATL, 28)
I’m the first to admit that I was too excited about Eli’s chances for a nice game against the Eagles last week, so I’m going to temper my optimism in an even better matchup against the Falcons, who have yielded an average of 345/3.3 to Jameis Winston, Ben Roethlisberger, Andy Dalton and Drew Brees over the last four games. Manning has reverse home/away splits going right now. Going back to last season, in his last five road games with Odell Beckham in the lineup, he has averaged 311/2.0. Those averages fall to 257/1.5 if we include 2016 (13 games in total). He should be able to produce a good fantasy line in a plum matchup against the Falcons.
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