Sneaky Starts: Week 8
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. 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 8...
* players with an asterisk were in last week’s Sneaky Starts
Justin Herbert (@ DEN, 22) has turned into an every-week start.
Carson Wentz, Eagles (vs. DAL, 21)
Wentz has done an admirable job under tough circumstances as the Philadelphia offense has lost Miles Sanders, Zach Ertz, Dallas Goedert and DeSean Jackson to various injuries. He has scored at least 17.4 fantasy points in five straight games and has a nice matchup with the Cowboys, who have yielded at least two touchdown passes in five of their last six games.
Teddy Bridgewater, Panthers (vs. ATL, 32)*
Bridgewater was a Sneaky Start last week and he turned in 254/2 against the Saints. He posted 313/2 against the Falcons back in Week 5 and has at least 19.2 points in three of his last four games. The Falcons have yielded 300+ yards in four straight games and have given up 10 passing touchdowns in that span.
Joe Burrow, Bengals (vs. TEN, 23)*
As a Week 7 Sneaky Start, Burrow delivered in a big way with 406 yards passing, 34 yards rushing and four total touchdowns. He has another fine matchup this week against the Titans, who have yielded 268/2 to Ben Roethlisberger, 335/4 to DeShaun Watson, 263/2 to Josh Allen, 251/3 to Kirk Cousins and 339/3 to Gardner Minshew this season.
Derek Carr, Raiders (@ CLE, 30)
Don’t look now, but Carr has the No. 14 per game average at his position and has produced in bad matchups against the Bucs (284/2), Chiefs (347/3) and Patriots (261/2). In other words, he’s having a great year, and this week he has his best matchup to date. The Browns have given up the seventh-most fantasy points to quarterbacks, yielding monster games to Joe Burrow (406/3 and 316/3), Dak Prescott (502/4) and Lamar Jackson (275/3).
Baker Mayfield, Browns (vs. LV, 25)
Mayfield erupted with 297/5 in Week 7. Prior to a poor Week 6 outing against the Steelers, he had thrown two touchdowns in four straight games. The Raiders have given up 369/4 to Tom Brady, 340/2 to Patrick Mahomes and 288/2 to Josh Allen in the last three weeks.
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers (@ SEA, 31)
I don’t really trust Garoppolo as a starter, but I do trust the Seahawks defense to give up big games to opposing quarterbacks. Kyler Murray (360/2), Kirk Cousins (249/2), Dak Prescott (472/3), Cam Newton (397/1) and Matt Ryan (450/2) all had big(ish) games against Seattle. This game has the third-highest total on the slate (54.0) so there will be points.
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