Sneaky Starts: Week 2
All but the luckiest fantasy owners at some point need to find the 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 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. We have last year’s aFPA up on the website now, but it will start updating for 2019 data after Week 3.
For now, let's take a look at the top Sneaky Starts for Week 2...
Josh Allen, Bills (@ NYG, 22nd in QB aFPA)
It wasn’t pretty, but Allen produced 16.0 fantasy points in Week 1 thanks to 245 yards passing, 38 yards rushing and his rushing touchdown. This week the Bills face the Giants, who gave up 33.4 fantasy points to Dak Prescott in Week 1.
Derek Carr, Raiders (vs. KC, 32)
Carr looked in command of Jon Gruden’s offense in Week 1, completing 22 of 26 passes for 259 yards (10.0 YPA) and a touchdown while showing a great rapport with Tyrell Williams and Darren Waller. The numbers aren’t eye-popping, but they’re efficient, and if he carries that efficiency into what should be a higher volume game against the Chiefs, he could post starter-caliber numbers. The Chiefs were bad against the pass last year, and that trend continued in Week 1 as they yielded a combined 350 yards and three touchdowns to a combination of Nick Foles and Gardner Minshew. Against the Chiefs last year, Carr threw for 285 yards and three scores in Oakland in Week 13 but was dreadful (185 yards, two picks) in Kansas City. In 2017, he threw for 417 yards and three touchdowns against the Chiefs at home, so we have a couple of encouraging data points to work with.
Andy Dalton, Bengals (vs. SF, 20)
The Bengals were very pass-heavy in Week 1 and Dalton was up to the task, completing 35 of 51 passes for 418 yards and two touchdowns. It might have been due to Joe Mixon’s injury, but Mixon is likely out this week so that trend is likely to continue with Giovani Bernard drawing the start. (The Bengals had a 62.6% pass rate in neutral game scripts last season, so they are typically pass-heavy.) The 49ers defense looked good against Tampa in Week 1 but it’s hard to know how much of that was due to Jameis Winston’s meltdown.
Gardner Minshew, Jaguars (@ HOU, 30)
I’m not super optimistic about a rookie playing on the road against a usually tough Texans defense, but Minshew showed something last week when he came in for an injured Nick Foles, completing 22 of 25 passes for 275 yards, two touchdowns and a pick. The Texans were bad against the pass last year and just yielded 370 yards and two scores to (the much more proven) Drew Brees in Week 1. Minshew is not a terrible play in two quarterback/superflex formats.
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