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  • Five players flying under the fantasy radar who can help you get to the playoffs with a win in Week 13.
By John Paulsen
November 30, 2017

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.

The bye weeks are finally over, but there are a number of injuries (Amari Cooper, Doug Martin, Greg Olsen and Devonta Freeman, to name a few) along with a certain suspension (Michael Crabtree) that may have owners scrambling to fill holes in their lineups.

With that in mind, let’s take a look at the best Sneaky Starts for Week 13:

Josh McCown, Jets (vs. Chiefs)

In six home games this season, McCown has averaged 255 yards and 1.5 touchdowns while only throwing 0.5 interceptions per game. The Chiefs are 23rd in quarterback aFPA and have been no better than mediocre against the pass all year. McCown is coming off a 307-yard, three-touchdown effort against the Panthers, and he has accounted for 16 total touchdowns in his last seven games.

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Rex Burkhead, Patriots (at Bills)

Since Week 8, Burkhead’s role has expanded. In the last four games, he has averaged 12 touches for 59 yards and 0.75 touchdowns per game all while taking over James White’s role in the passing game to the tune of 16 catches in that span. The Bills shut down Kareem Hunt last week, but in their three previous games they yielded 5.63 yards per carry to opposing running backs.

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Seth Roberts & Cordarrelle Patterson, Raiders (vs. Giants)

The sky is falling in Oakland. Not only is Michael Crabtree suspended this week, but Amari Cooper is dealing with a concussion and an ankle injury. If he also sits, both Roberts and Patterson are worth consideration against the Giants, a defense ranked 25th in wide receiver aFPA that just lost shutdown corner Janoris Jenkins for the season. Patterson has some upside as a runner, too. He has one rushing touchdown and two games with 50-plus yards on the ground this year. Johnny Holton is also an intriguing dart throw in deeper leagues given his big play ability and increased playing time—68% snap rate—last week.

Click here for all of John's Week 13 Sneaky Starts.

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Jared Cook, Raiders (vs. Giants)

Cook has been very quiet since the Raiders’ Week 10 bye—he has just 3 catches for 37 yards in the last two games—but in the three games prior to the bye, he averaged 6.0 catches for 97 yards on 7.0 targets per game. Given the likely absence of both Crabtree and Cooper, Cook should see plenty of work as the Raiders try to move the ball without their two star receivers. Throw in a matchup with a Giants defense that ranks last in the league in tight end aFPA, and we have all the makings of a Sneaky Start.

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