Sneaky Starts: Week 10
Week 10 is upon us! There are four teams—Ravens, Broncos, Texans and Vikings—on bye, and there are several injuries—A.J. Green, Chris Carson and Rob Gronkowski—that may have fantasy owners scrambling for decent replacements this week.
A great 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.
Last week I discussed Ryan Fitzpatrick, Baker Mayfield, Alex Smith, Duke Johnson, TreQuan Smith, Tyrell Williams, Josh Doctson, Chris Herndon and Jordan Thomas in this space. Let’s see if we can dig up a few more gems for Week 10.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Buccaneers (vs. WAS, No. 17 in QB aFPA)
In his five starts, Fitzpatrick has averaged 320 yards, 3.0 touchdowns and 1.4 interceptions. He has also added 17 yards and 0.20 touchdowns as a runner. Those are high-end QB1 numbers in any scoring format. The Washington defense is pretty good, but they're better against the run than against the pass. The Redskins gave up an average of 304 yards and 2.0 touchdowns to Matt Ryan, Eli Manning, Dak Prescott and Cam Newton in the last month.
Baker Mayfield, Browns (vs. ATL, 30)
Mayfield has thrown two touchdowns in three consecutive games and is averaging 17.6 fantasy points in that span. He has another great matchup this week against a banged-up Atlanta defense that has been torched for an average of 367 yards and 2.0 touchdowns by the likes of Alex Smith, Eli Manning and Jameis Winston.
Andy Dalton, Bengals (vs NO, 32)
Dalton has played six games since 2016 without his top wideout, A.J. Green, and his fantasy numbers haven’t taken a huge hit. He has averaged 241 yards, 1.17 touchdowns and 0.33 interceptions in those six games, but his YPA (7.12) held steady. I wouldn’t normally recommend him without Green, but a home matchup against the Saints is worth a look. New Orleans has yielded an average of 345 yards and 2.3 touchdowns through the air in its last three games, including 279/2 to Joe Flacco in Week 7. John Ross and Gio Bernard are both back at practice and if they’re able to play, it will soften the blow of losing Green. The Saints are also really good against the run, which will force the Bengals to throw more than they otherwise would.
Alex Smith, Redskins (@ TB, 31)
Smith is an uninspiring streamer but he should be good for another solid outing in yet another good matchup against a very shaky pass defense. Smith finished with 16.4 fantasy points last week against the Falcons (306 yards, one touchdown, one interception) and faces an equally bad Bucs secondary this week. Tampa has yielded an average of 274 yards and 2.3 touchdowns to Cam Newton, Andy Dalton, Baker Mayfield and Matt Ryan in its last four games.
Marcus Mariota, Titans (vs. NE, 25)
Mariota came out of his bye fully healthy and had a nice fantasy day against the Cowboys, throwing for 240 yards and two scores while adding 32 yards and another score as a runner. The visiting Patriots have given up an average of 314 yards and 2.0 touchdowns to Aaron Rodgers, Derek Anderson/Nathan Peterman, Mitch Trubisky and Patrick Mahomes. Obviously, Rodgers and Mahomes are two of the best fantasy quarterbacks in the game, but Trubisky is pretty similar to Mariota—they’re both dual threats—and he managed 333 yards and two touchdowns to go along with 81 yards and a touchdown on the ground against the Patriots in Week 7.
Blake Bortles, Jaguars (@ IND, 28)
After getting benched in Week 7, Bortles bounced back with a pretty good outing against the Eagles, posting 286 yards and a touchdown while adding 43 yards as a rusher. In his last four games against the Colts, he has averaged 19.9 fantasy points and has thrown for 300+ yards three times. The Colts’ defense is better this year, but they recently gave up 244/3 to Derek Carr and 280/1 to Sam Darnold.
Dak Prescott, Cowboys (@ PHI, 9)
It isn’t a great matchup against Philadelphia, but Prescott has been playing pretty good football since Week 6, scoring 29.5, 20.2 and 14.8 fantasy points in consecutive games. He actually should be a good streamer down the stretch. Starting next week, he’ll face Atlanta, Washington, New Orleans, Philadelphia (again), Indianapolis and Tampa Bay.