Sneaky Starts: Week 10
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 2020 data, so we can now pay serious attention to positional strength of schedule. A defense’s ranking against a particular position is listed in parenthesis next to each player.
Let’s take a look at the top Sneaky Starts for Week 10...
Derek Carr, Raiders (vs. DEN, 24)
Carr's yardage against the Chargers was on the low side (165), but he threw two-plus touchdowns for the sixth time in his last seven games, with the lone exception being the Wind Bowl in Cleveland in Week 8. Meanwhile, the Broncos have yielded 284/3 to Matt Ryan, and 278/3 to Justin Herbert in recent weeks. They did hold Patrick Mahomes to 200/1 in Week 7.
Jared Goff, Rams (vs. SEA, 32)
Goff has thrown for 320+ yards and/or 2+ touchdowns in six of his last seven games. Seattle has really struggled against the pass, giving up 415/3 to Josh Allen, 322/2 to Nick Mullens/Jimmy Garoppolo, 360/3 to Kyler Murray, and 249/2 within the last five games.
Tua Tagovailoa, Dolphins (vs. LAC, 28)
I was hesitant to recommend Tagovailoa last week after a rough first start against the Rams, but after 248/2 against the Cardinals (with 35 rushing yards), I’m feeling better about his prospects. The Chargers have given up 2+ touchdowns in three straight games. Before that, they yielded 325/1 to Drew Brees and 369/5 to Tom Brady.
Baker Mayfield, Browns (vs. HOU, 22)
Baker is on the COVID-IR list but is participating remotely this week. If he can play, he should deliver against the Texans. Outside of the Wind Bowl in Week 8, Mayfield has been solid if not spectacular, throwing 2+ touchdowns in five of his six previous games, including 297/5 against the Bengals after losing Odell Beckham early. Meanwhile, the Texans have struggled, allowing 304/1 to Jake Luton, 283/4 to Aaron Rodgers, 364/4 to Ryan Tannehill, and 301/2 to Gardner Minshew in their last four games.
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