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.
This week, four teams—Atlanta, Denver, New Orleans and Washington—are on bye, while Marcus Mariota (hamstring), Ty Montgomery (ribs) and Davante Adams (concussion) are dealing with injuries that may keep them out of Week 5. In addition, Dalvin Cook (ACL), Derek Carr (back) Chris Carson (ankle) and Jordan Matthews (thumb) suffered season-ending or multi-week injuries.
In short, fantasy owners have some work to do, so let’s get to it.
Eli Manning, Giants (vs. Chargers)
Manning is coming off a couple of good fantasy outings. He posted 366 yards and three touchdowns against the Eagles in Week 3, before racking up 288 yards and a pair of scores against the Buccaneers in Week 4. He even added a rare rushing touchdown in Tampa. This week, he faces the Chargers (No. 20 in QB aFPA), who have yielded an average of 1.5 passing touchdowns through the first four weeks. Manning has enough weapons to find the end zone a couple of times in Week 5.
Latavius Murray, Vikings (at Bears)
After Dalvin Cook tore his ACL early in the third quarter last week, Murray saw nine touches, while Jerick McKinnon didn’t get a single carry. McKinnon fumbled early in the third quarter, which may explain his lack of usage in the second half. Either way, it appears that the Vikings plan to use Murray to replace most of Cook’s role in the offense. The matchup isn’t particularly good, but Murray should see 12 to 18 touches as Minnesota’s lead back.
Geronimo Allison, Packers (at Cowboys)
Davante Adams (concussion) may be able to play against the Cowboys, but if he can’t Allison should step in and take over most of his snaps. When he filled in for Randall Cobb in Week 3, he caught six of his eight targets for 122 yards, setting up the game-winning overtime field goal against the Bengals. In three games without Cobb last year, Allison averaged 3.3 receptions for 59 yards and 0.67 touchdowns. He’s the one who benefits whenever one of the Green Bay receivers miss time.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins, Jets (at Browns)
The Browns have struggled against the tight end position, giving up a combined 20 catches for 200 yards and four touchdowns to the likes of Jesse James, Ben Watson and Tyler Kroft. Seferian-Jenkins is playing 76% to 77% of the snaps this season, and has caught nine of 10 targets since returning from suspension in Week 3.