Sneaky Starts: Week 1
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. We have last year’s aFPA up on the website now, but it will start updating for 2019 data after Week 3.
For now, let's take a look at the top Sneaky Starts for Week 1...
Kirk Cousins, Vikings (vs. ATL, 27th in 2018 QB aFPA)
Although they should be improved defensively—the team’s pass rush has improved—the 16 quarterbacks who attempted at least 20 passes in any one game against the Falcons last year averaged 263 passing yards and 2.0 touchdowns. Including the 0.88 interceptions, that works out to 16.8 fantasy points just from the passing game. The Vikings are likely to have a run-heavy offense this year, but this game has the sixth-highest total of the week (48.0), so both teams should be able to put numbers up on the board.
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers (@ TB, 28)
Like the Falcons, the Bucs were lit up in the passing game last season. The 16 quarterbacks who attempted at least 18 passes averages 274 yards and 2.1 touchdowns (and just 0.56) interceptions, which works out to 18.1 fantasy points, just from the passing game. In eight games with the 49ers where he has attempted at least 26 passes, Garoppolo posted an average of 283 yards, 1.4 touchdowns and 1.0 interceptions per game, for a 16.0 fantasy points per game average. This game has the third-highest total this week (50.5).
Josh Allen, Bills (@ NYJ, 29)
Opposing quarterbacks in 2018 found a lot of success against the Jets. The 16 quarterbacks who attempted at least 23 passes against New York averaged 269 yards and 1.8 touchdowns per game. When we include the 0.75 interceptions, that works out to 16.5 fantasy points per game. Allen scored 18.3 fantasy points in Week 14 meeting with the Jets thanks to 9-101-1 in the running game.
Nick Foles, Jaguars (vs. KC, 32)
The 16 quarterbacks who attempted at least 24 passes against the Chiefs last year averaged 292 yards and 1.9 touchdowns per game. The Chiefs did poach 0.94 interceptions per game, so that works out to an average of 17.3 fantasy points per game for opposing quarterbacks, just in the passing game. Since 2013, Foles has averaged 0.43 fantasy points per pass attempt and the Chiefs allowed an average of 39.1 pass attempts last season. If Foles can hit both averages, that works out to 16.8 fantasy points.
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