It’s Week 9 and we are now officially past the halfway point of the fantasy season. There are six teams on bye—Cardinals, Bengals, Colts, Jaguars, Giants and Eagles—so the competition was likely fiercer than usual on the waiver wire to find spot starts to cover these byes. Hopefully owners have planned ahead and have a decent bench to utilize.
A great way to identify a potential spot start is to leverage 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.
Joe Flacco, Ravens (vs. Steelers, 25th in QB aFPA)
Historically, Flacco plays better at home— he has averaged 1.6 touchdowns and 0.6 interceptions per game in Baltimore versus 1.0 TD/1.1 INT on the road since 2016—and he has put up a solid 274 yards and 1.4 touchdowns per game in his last five meetings with the Steelers. On the flip side, the Steelers have yielded 238 yards and 1.7 touchdowns in their last three games, matchups with Baker Mayfield, Andy Dalton and Matt Ryan/Matt Schaub. Flacco pasted the Steelers for 363 yards and two scores—his best fantasy game of the season—back in Week 4.
Isaiah Crowell & Trenton Cannon, Jets (at Dolphins, 32nd in RB aFPA)
Owners will be shy to use Crowell after a poor outing against the Bears (who are No. 3 in RB aFPA), but they shouldn’t be. Crowell should bounce back against the Dolphins, who are yielding a generous 5.47 YPC to running backs since Week 5. Even Cannon has some deep flex appeal after receiving nine touches against the Bears last week.
Duke Johnson, Browns (vs. Chiefs, 27th in RB aFPA)
Nick Chubb should find success as a runner—the Chiefs are yielding 5.12 YPC to running backs since Week 5—but maybe, just maybe, this is the week that Duke Johnson gets more touches, primarily as a receiver. The Chiefs are likely to lead for most of the game, so Johnson should be able to rack up yards in the passing game. The Chiefs have yielded lines of 5-53 (catches-yards) to James White, 8-69 with a touchdown to T.J. Yeldon, and 7-40 to Denver running backs in recent weeks.
D.J. Moore, Panthers (vs. Buccaneers, 31st in WR aFPA)
Torrey Smith is sidelined with a knee injury, and in Week 8, Moore was the primary beneficiary. He caught 5-of-6 targets for 90 yards, and added two runs for 39 yards while playing a season-high 71% of the snaps. The Bucs are No. 31 in receiver aFPA, so Moore should be able to repeat this success in Week 9.
David Moore, Seahawks (vs. Chargers, 28th in WR aFPA)
Moore’s usage is a little worrisome—11 total targets in the last three games—but I can’ t argue with his production (9-182-4 in that span). Moore will match up with Trevor Williams, while Tyler Lockett likely has to deal with shadow coverage from Casey Hayward.
Hayden Hurst, Ravens (vs. Steelers, 21st in TE aFPA)
Hurst’s playing time is trending up. After playing 24% to 27% of the snaps from Week 5 to Week 7, Hurst played 44% of the snaps in Week 8, finishing with two catches for 29 yards and a touchdown on three targets. He’s not a bad dart throw against the Steelers, who surrendered lines of 6-54 to C.J. Uzomah and 9-77 to Austin Hooper in recent weeks.