Sneaky Starts: Week 9
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 2019 data, so we can now pay more attention to positional strength of schedule.
With that in mind, let’s take a look at the top Sneaky Starts for Week 9...
Derek Carr, Raiders (vs. DET, 25 in QB aFPA)
The Lions have been getting flamed by opposing quarterbacks in recent weeks, yielding 332/4 to Daniel Jones, 337/4 to Kirk Cousins and 283/2 to Aaron Rodgers in their last three games. Their best cornerback, Darius Slay, continues to deal with a hamstring injury. Meanwhile, Carr has strung together a series of meaningful starts (working backwards): 285/3, 293/2, 229/0 (versus Chicago), 189/2 and 242/2. With “Touchdown” Tyrell Williams back in the fold, the Raiders’ receiving corps is relatively close to full strength.
Sam Darnold, Jets (@ MIA, 30)
Again, the name of this article is “Sneaky Starts,” not “Confident Starts.” Owners are rightfully terrified with the prospect of starting Darnold after he threw seven picks in his last two games, but this is a “get right” game against the Dolphins, who have struggled mightily against the pass this year. Miami has given up two touchdown passes apiece to Mason Rudolph, Case Keenum and Josh Allen in the last three weeks, resulting in the No. 30 QB aFPA.
Jimmy Garoppolo, 49ers (@ ARI, 29)
I’m not thrilled about recommending a quarterback who hasn’t cracked 15.0 fantasy points since Week 2, but Garoppolo’s matchup with the Cardinals is too tasty to ignore. Arizona has given up passing lines of 373/3 (Drew Brees), 223/1 (Daniel Jones), 356/4 (Matt Ryan) and 262/2 (Andy Dalton) in recent weeks.
Matt Moore, Chiefs (vs. MIN, 14)
Moore was competent against the Packers in Week 8, throwing for 267/2 against a pretty good Green Bay pass defense. The Vikings have a good defense, but it’s better against the run (one touchdown allowed) than it is against the pass (14 touchdowns allowed). The Chiefs running game is not particularly strong, so Andy Reid will have to reach in his bag of tricks to put up points on the Vikings, and that usually involves deception in the passing game. One note: Patrick Mahomes did practice last week so it’s not out of the realm of possibility that he returns for this one.
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