Sneaky Starts: Week 14
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 forecaster, 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.
As always, when faced with lineup decisions, it’s best to look at the custom projections for your league.
Let’s take a look at the top Sneaky Starts for Week 14...
Kirk Cousins, Vikings (@ TB, 21)
Cousins has thrown three touchdown passes in three straight games and has 14 touchdowns in his last five games. The Buccaneers are excellent against the run, so teams have to throw to move the ball against them, as evidenced by the 454 pass attempts allowed, the fifth-highest in the league. The Bucs have yielded 462/3 to Patrick Mahomes, 376/3 to Jared Goff and 222/4 to Drew Brees since Week 9.
Philip Rivers, Colts (@ LV, 25)
Rivers continues to produce. In the last four weeks, he has posted 308/1, 288/3, 295/2 and 285/2. The Raiders have yielded the ninth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season and are bottom three in Football Outsiders’ Adjusted Sack Rate, so he should enjoy clean pockets.
Mitch Trubisky, Bears (vs. HOU, 24)
In the last two weeks, Trubisky finished with a pretty good fantasy line against the Packers (242/3 plus two picks) and was so-so against the Lions (267/1). The Texans have yielded 285/2 to Philip Rivers, 295/1 to Matthew Stafford, 365/1 to Cam Newton, 304/1 to Jake Luton and 283/4 to Aaron Rodgers since Week 7.
Teddy Bridgewater, Panthers (vs. DEN, 8)
Bridgewater has scored seven touchdowns (five pass, two rush) in the last three games, and he should get Christian McCaffrey back this week. He will likely be without D.J. Moore (ankle, reserve/COVID list) and might be without Curtis Samuel (reserve/COVID list). If Samuel is indeed out, I’ll downgrade Bridgewater a bit in the rankings.
Jalen Hurts, Eagles (vs. NO, 4)
Hurts made some nice throws against the Packers, completing 5-of-12 passes for 109 yards (9.08 YPA) with a touchdown and a pick. Hurts is a boom/bust streamer who could surprise the Saints’ (elite) defense with a good fantasy line, or completely flame out. I do expect a decent floor with his ability to run the ball, though the Saints are pretty good against running quarterbacks, allowing the fewest rushing yards (75) to the position this season.
Andy Dalton, Cowboys (@ CIN, 28)
Dalton will play a #RevengeGame against his old team and seems to be settling in as the Cowboys’ starter after 203/3 against the Vikings and 215/1 against Washington in the last two weeks. Neither of those statlines is jaw-dropping, but he should be able to produce against the Bengals, who have yielded 296/1 to Tua Tagovailoa, 333/4 to Ben Roethlisberger, 233/2 to Ryan Tannehill and 297/5 to Baker Mayfield since Week 7.
Mike Glennon, Jaguars (vs. TEN, 31)
In two starts, Glennon has posted 235/2 against the Browns and 280/1 (with two picks) against the Vikings. The key here is the matchup--the Titans have given up big numbers to pocket passers this season, including 334/4 to Baker Mayfield, 295/2 and 308/1 to Philip Rivers, 335/2 to Nick Foles and 268/2 to Ben Roethlisberger.
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