Sneaky Starts: Week 12
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 12...
Derek Carr, Raiders (@ ATL, 32)
Carr was a Sneaky Start last week and delivered 275/3 against the Chiefs. The Falcons are playing a little better defensively, but they still yielded 24.4 fantasy points to Taysom Hill. Drew Lock posted 313/2 and Matthew Stafford threw for 340/1 against the Falcons in recent weeks.
Taysom Hill, Saints (@ DEN, 16)
I added Hill to Week 11 Sneaky Starts late in the week and he posted 233 passing yards (10.13 YPA) to go along with 51 yards rushing and two rush touchdowns. The Broncos are a tougher test, but they’re not a tough test. Denver has yielded the 11th-most rushing yards to opposing quarterbacks and has been pretty middle-of-the-road against the pass. For a detailed breakdown of Hill, check out Week 11 Sneaky Starts.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Dolphins (@ NYJ, 21)
Tua Tagovailoa was downgraded to doubtful for Week 12, so Fitzpatrick will draw another start. In his six starts this season, Fitzpatrick has averaged 256 yards and 1.67 touchdowns to go along with 22 yards rushing and 0.33 rush touchdowns per game. He was the No. 8 fantasy quarterback through the first six weeks and had the No. 11 per game average. The Jets are No. 21 in QB aFPA and have yielded the fourth-most raw fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks.
Daniel Jones, Giants (@ CIN, 30)
Jones’s schedule to start the season was pretty rough, though things got a little easier by midseason and he started posting good fantasy lines against weaker competition. He went over the 20-point mark twice against the Eagles in Week 7 and Week 10, and had a solid 16.2 against the Buccaneers in Week 8. The Bengals have yielded 12 passing touchdowns in the last four weeks.
Baker Mayfield, Browns (@ JAX, 28)
Mayfield has had terrible weather luck in the last three games, battling 30+ MPH winds in back-to-back games before Week 11’s downpour against the Eagles. There is light rain in the forecast in Jacksonville, but it’s nothing to worry about. The Jaguars have yielded at least two touchdown passes in four straight games and seven of the last nine.
Philip Rivers, Colts (vs. TEN, 27)
Rivers posted 288/3 against the Packers after 308/1 against the Titans in Week 10. He has a 10:3 touchdown-to-interception ratio since Week 6 and is averaging 291 yards passing in that span. The Titans have yielded 16.3+ fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in seven of the last eight games.
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