Sneaky Starts: Week 16

Dec 18, 2019
Sneaky Starts: Week 16

It’s championship week in most leagues but that doesn’t mean owners aren’t looking for a quality spot start in the title game. After all, several of last week’s Sneaky Starts (Ryan Tannehill, Adrian Peterson, A.J. Brown, Chris Conley, Darius Slayton, Anthony Miller, Mike Williams, Breshad Perriman, Danny Amendola, Tyler Higbee and Jonnu Smith) had better than expected games to help more than a few owners make the finals.

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.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at the top Sneaky Starts for Week 16...


  • Ryan Fitzpatrick, Dolphins (vs. CIN, 22) - Fitzpatrick has two-plus touchdowns in three of his last four games and has rushed for 21 yards and 0.33 touchdowns in the 10 games where he has played at least 90% of the snaps.

  • Kirk Cousins, Vikings (vs. GB, 13) - Dalvin Cook looks doubtful, and if he’s out, the Vikings will probably have to lean more on Cousins at home in a nice matchup with the Packers.

  • Philip Rivers, Chargers (vs. OAK, 31) - Rivers is still good enough to take advantage of a Raiders defense that has allowed at least 18.7 fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks over the last four games.

  • Gardner Minshew, Jaguars (@ ATL, 18) - Minshew posted 18.7 fantasy points against the Raiders last week and is averaging 25 rushing yards per game. The Falcons are coming off of their “Super Bowl” win against the 49ers last week and are likely to have a letdown against the lowly Jaguars.

  • Andy Dalton, Bengals (@ MIA, 28) - Over the last four games, the Dolphins have yielded 283/2 to Eli Manning, 270/2 to Sam Darnold, 310/3 to Carson Wentz and 327/3 to Baker Mayfield.

  • Daniel Jones, Giants (@ WAS, 11) - Tossing out extremely good (Arizona) and extremely bad (New England) matchups, Jones has averaged 247 yards and 2.0 touchdowns in his other eight starts, while adding 24 yards rushing and 0.25 rushing touchdowns per game. The Redskins are a mediocre matchup, but Dwayne Haskins has shown some signs of life, and if that continues against the Giants, Jones may be forced to throw more than the low total (42.0) would indicate.

  • Drew Lock, Broncos (vs. DET, 30) - Midnight struck, and Lock turned into a pumpkin in the snow game against the Chiefs, but a matchup with the Lions is just what the doctor ordered. Detroit has yielded 458/4 to Jameis Winston, 242/1 to Kirk Cousins and 338/3 to Mitch Trubisky in the last three games.

  • Dwayne Haskins, Redskins (vs. NYG, 27) - Haskins was solid against the Eagles, throwing for 261 yards and two scores while adding 26 yards as a runner. The Giants have yielded 279/2 to Ryan Fitzpatrick, 325/2 to Carson Wentz and 243/4 to Aaron Rodgers in the last three weeks.

Running Backs

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