Sneaky Starts: Week 4
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 more attention to positional strength of schedule.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top Sneaky Starts for Week 4...
* players with an asterisk were in last week’s Sneaky Starts
Joe Burrow, Bengals (vs. JAX, 31)*
Burrow is the No. 10 fantasy quarterback through three weeks. The matchup against the Jaguars is favorable. Jacksonville just gave up 24.2 points to Ryan Fitzpatrick after yielding 26.8 points to Ryan Tannehill in a four-touchdown game.
Jared Goff, Rams (vs. NYG, 10)
Goff is the No. 9 fantasy quarterback so far, and while the Giants haven’t been torched through the air, they haven’t exactly shut down opposing passing attacks either. Nick Mullens (343/1), Mitch Trubisky (190/2) and Ben Roethlisberger (229/3) all posted decent to good numbers against the G-men.
Gardner Minshew, Jaguars (@ CIN, 17)*
Minshew will probably bounce back after a dreadful showing against the Dolphins, though he’s still the No. 15 quarterback thus far. The Bengals have been better than expected against the pass but they’ve faced Tyrod Taylor, Baker Mayfield and a struggling Carson Wentz through three weeks.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Dolphins (vs. SEA, 29)*
Fitzmagic is the No. 14 fantasy quarterback and this week, a struggling Seahawks defense will travel cross country to face the Dolphins. Seattle has yielded 472/3 to Dak Prescott, 397/1 to Cam Newton and 450/2 so far. Fitzpatrick is always capable of putting up a stinker, but he should rack up the stats once the Seahawks jump out to a lead in this one.
Baker Mayfield, Browns (@ DAL, 16)*
The Cowboys limited Jared Goff to 275/0 in Week 1, but in Week 2, Matt Ryan racked up 273/4 and in Week 3 Russell Wilson went for 315/5. The Browns want to run the ball, but there’s as 4 ½-point underdogs, there’s a good chance they enter catch up mode in Week 4.
Nick Mullens, 49ers (vs. PHI, 23)
In nine career starts, Mullens has averaged 291 yards and 1.55 touchdowns with a YPA of 8.45, which is the second-highest YPA of the 45 quarterbacks with at least 200 pass attempts since 2018. He might get George Kittle back, which can only help. Over the last two weeks, the Eagles gave up 312/2 to Joe Burrow last week and 267/3 to Jared Goff the week before.
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