Sneaky Starts: Week 8
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. As of Week 4, the aFPA Hot Spots reports that you see on the site are now using 2019 data, so we can now pay more attention to positional strength of schedule.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top Sneaky Starts for Week 8...
Mason Rudolph, Steelers (vs. MIA, 29)
Rudolph has cleared concussion protocol and should be healthy enough to resume his role as the starter for the Steelers. Since taking over, Rudolph has finished with 174/2 against the 49ers, 229/2 against the Bengals and 131/1 in roughly a half of play against the Ravens. The Dolphins are having a tough time stopping the pass, as Josh Allen (19.3 fantasy points), Case Keenum (15.6) and Philip Rivers (20.4) have all posted solid-to-good fantasy lines against them. Coming off the bye, Rudolph and the Pittsburgh passing game should look better in Week 8.
Derek Carr, Raiders (@ HOU, 24)
Carr has been producing decent fantasy lines recently. He had 293/2 against the Packers last week, 189/2 against the Colts in Week 4 and 242/2 against the Vikings in Week 3. Over the last three weeks, the Texans have been flamed for 326/4 by Jacoby Brissett, 273/3 by Patrick Mahomes and 330/3 by Matt Ryan. Deshaun Watson and the Texans offense should be able to put up some points, so Carr and the Raiders will have to throw the ball to stay in the game.
Ryan Tannehill, Titans (vs. TB, 30)
Tannehill played pretty well in his first start for the Titans, completing 23 of 29 passes for 312 yards, two touchdowns and an interception. On the season, he’s averaging 10.1 YPA on 45 pass attempts. The Bucs are coming off of a bye, but they have a pass-funnel defense that has yielded 227/2 to Kyle Allen, 314/4 to Teddy Bridgewater and 517/2 to Jared Goff.
Matt Moore, Chiefs (vs. GB, 7)
This is more of a system play than a matchup play or a bet on Moore’s talent. Andy Reid tends to get a lot out of his quarterbacks (e.g. Alex Smith, Nick Foles) so with a week of preparation, Moore should be ready to face the Packers. Green Bay’s pass rush cooled off last week against the Raiders and the Packer secondary has been burned for some big plays in recent weeks. With all the speed that the Chiefs have at receiver, it’s reasonable to think that Moore could have a 275/2-type day.
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