Sneaky Starts: Week 5
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 5...
* players with an asterisk were in last week’s Sneaky Starts
Ryan Tannehill, Titans (vs. BUF, 29)
Tannehill has played at a top 10 level since taking over as the starter in Tennessee. The Titans may be a little shorthanded this week--no Adam Humphries, for example--but A.J. Brown should be back and Jonnu Smith is turning into a top threat at tight end. The Bills have yielded 300+/2 in three straight weeks to Derek Carr, Jared Goff and Ryan Fitzpatrick. (Hopefully, the Titans are able to play this week after multiple positive tests, time will tell.)
Teddy Bridgewater, Panthers (@ ATL, 32)
The Falcons have given up 327/4 to Aaron Rodgers, 316/4 combined to Nick Foles and Mitch Trubisky, 450/1 to Dak Prescott and 322/4 to Russell Wilson. Bridgewater has been solid as a starter for the Panthers, averaging 8.14 YPA and scoring 14.6+ in three of four games, including last week’s 276/2 against the Cardinals (with 32 yards and a score on the ground for good measure).
Gardner Minshew, Jaguars (@ HOU, 8)*
Minshew bounced back from a poor game against the Dolphins with 351/2 against the Bengals in Week 4. The Texans are yielding 8.0 YPA and have given up multiple touchdowns to Ben Roethlisberger and Patrick Mahomes in recent weeks.
Kirk Cousins, Vikings (@ SEA, 31)
Cousins is benefiting from the emergence of Justin Jefferson. Over the past two weeks, he has thrown for a combined 511 yards and four touchdowns and should need to throw the ball to stay in the game against the Seahawks.
Joe Burrow, Bengals (@ BAL, 23)*
Burrow is currently the No. 9 fantasy quarterback yet he’s still available in some leagues. In the preseason, we predicted that the Bengals would be among the league leaders in pass attempts and they’re currently second with 177 through four games. The Ravens are tough to run on, so if the Bengals are going to move the ball, it will probably be through the air.
Daniel Jones, Giants (@ DAL, 22)
We knew that Jones was going to have a rough start to the season given a brutal opening schedule, but things should be easier the next few weeks starting with a matchup against the Cowboys. Dallas has yielded 11 touchdown passes in the last three games.
Justin Herbert, Chargers (@ NO)
Herbert has acquitted himself pretty well as the starter, throwing for 311/1 (plus a rushing touchdown), 330/1 and 290/3 in his first three starts. The Saints are hurting at corner, and have yielded 208/3 to Matthew Stafford, 283/3 to Aaron Rodgers, 282/3 to Derek Carr and 239/2 to Tom Brady thus far this season.
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