Sneaky Starts: Week 6
It’s Week 6 and Jay Ajayi is out for the year after tearing his ACL. Brandin Cooks and Cooper Kupp may or may not play due to their concussions, while Matt Breida is dealing with an ankle injury. Throw in byes for two of the more fantasy-friendly teams—the Saints and the Lions—and more than a few owners are going to be scrambling to find a diamond in the rough for Week 6.
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.
Let’s see if we can dig up a few gems for Week 6.
Jameis Winston, Buccaneers (@ ATL, 27)
I was drafting Winston regularly in the final rounds of my best ball leagues with the idea that he’d come out of the gates hot in Week 4. It took an extra couple of weeks—and I had to sweat out the return of Fitzmagic—but I believe Winston is definitely going to be in the QB1 mix regularly over the next three months. In the 11 games last season where he played 90 percent or more of the snaps, he averaged 307 yards, 1.7 touchdowns and 1.0 interception for an 18.9 fantasy point per game average. That would have been the fifth-highest per game average at his position last year. He has one of the most talented receiving corps in the league in Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson and Chris Godwin, along with O.J. Howard and Winston-favorite Cameron Brate at tight end. Throw in a suspect defense (34.8 points allowed per game, the most in the league) and we have all the ingredients for a good fantasy run. I’m really eager to see this offense against a banged up Falcons defense (No. 27 in QB aFPA).
Baker Mayfield, Browns (@ LAC, 23)
In his last 10 quarters of NFL football, Mayfield is playing at a 316-yard, 1.2-touchdown, 7.67-YPA pace. He has also added 33 yards rushing in his last two starts. And the Browns are letting him throw—he’s averaging 10.3 pass attempts per quarter (or a 41.2-attempt pace). Mayfield’s matchup with the Chargers makes him an intriguing start in Week 6. The Chargers have yielded an average of 291 yards (8.37 YPA) and 1.8 passing touchdowns to Derek Carr, C.J. Beathard, Jared Goff and Josh Allen. When the highly-efficient Goff is removed, those averages fall to 270 yards (7.87 YPA) and 1.3 touchdowns, and Mayfield is more competent than Carr, Beathard and Allen.
Eli Manning, Giants (vs. PHI, 13)
After a poor Week 1 against the Jaguars (224 yards and a pick), Manning has shown a decent floor, scoring in the 12.7-19.8 range in his last four games, and averaging 293 yards and 1.7 touchdowns in his last three. Moreover, he has produced fantasy-wise in his last few meetings with the Eagles, posting 434/3, 366/3, 356/1 and 257/4 going back to the 2016 season. The Eagles contained Andrew Luck (164/1), but yielded 301/1 to Kirk Cousins, 344/2 to Marcus Mariota and 402/4 to Ryan Fitzpatrick in the last month.