Week 15 Fantasy Football Sneaky Starts
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.
At this point, most leagues are in the middle of their fantasy playoffs and teams should be at full strength, relatively speaking. Injuries to three quarterbacks—Carson Wentz, Josh McCown, and Marcus Mariota—will have more than a few owners scouring the waiver wire for streaming options.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top Sneaky Starts for Week 15 (positional aFPA in parenthesis):
Case Keenum, Vikings (vs. CIN, 25)
It feels dicey to trust Case Keenum in the fantasy playoffs, but since Week 8 he is the No. 5 fantasy quarterback in the league. He has accounted for at least 2 touchdowns in five of his last six games and has a favorable matchup with the Bengals, who are severely banged up on defense, especially in the secondary.
Blake Bortles, Jaguars (vs. HOU, 30)
Bortles has scored 2 touchdowns in each of his last three games—4 passing, 2 rushing—and he has a fantastic matchup with the Texans, who are No. 30 in QB aFPA. Bortles’ willingness to run the ball (145 rushing yards in his last six games) has raised his floor.
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers (vs. TEN, 8)
In his first two starts with the 49ers, Garoppolo has completed 46-of-70 passes (65.7% completion) for 627 yards and a robust 8.96 yards per attempt. The Tennessee defense has improved against the pass as the year has worn on, but the Titans have yielded an average of 1.69 passing touchdowns on the season, which is tied for the ninth-most in the league.
Nick Foles, Eagles (@ NYG, 26)
Foles was a rising star back in 2013 when he had a 27-to-2 touchdown-to-interception ratio playing for Andy Reid and the Eagles. Now he’s a system play in the hopes that he can step in for Carson Wentz and keep the Philadelphia offense humming. He should have a productive week against the Giants, who have yielded an average of 287 yards and 2.0 touchdowns to Dak Prescott, Derek Carr, and Kirk Cousins over the last three weeks.
They’re not trustworthy, but Marcus Mariota (@ SF), Derek Carr (vs. DAL), Blaine Gabbert (@ WAS), Trevor Siemian (@ IND), and Joe Flacco (@ CLE) all have decent-to-good matchups. DeShone Kizer (vs. BAL) has a tough matchup against the Ravens, but they’re not the same without CB Jimmy Smith, so he could post a good fantasy line. Tyrod Taylor (vs. MIA) will be playable if the game isn’t played in a foot of snow.
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