Fantasy Football: Geno Smith and other streaming QBs for Week 1

Geno Smith
geno smith

Jets’ QB Geno Smith is a viable option in Week 1 (via FoxSports.com)

What Does It Mean to Say You’re Streaming QBs This Year?

Tired of seeing quarterbacks like Ben Roethlisberger or Tom Brady on the waiver wire? I was.

The NFL doesn’t have a position with any more value than quarterback, but the typical fantasy football league makes the quarterback position an afterthought. “Late-round” QB has become such an accepted strategy in typical leagues that you can often get guys like Russell Wilson, Jay Cutler, and Tony Romo in the double-digit rounds of your draft.

A few years ago I got tired of how devalued quarterbacks were in fantasy football, so I made the jump to 2-QB leagues. Like I wrote before, I want to focus on the position that makes the NFL great. I want to study the quarterbacks, and I want to look for rising talent. I want to dominate my league the way coaches dominate the NFL – by finding the elite young quarterbacks before they’re even starters.

Once you’ve taken that leap into a 2-QB or Superflex league, you’re often stuck looking for low-profile quarterbacks to start in your second quarterback slot. “Streaming QBs” is the idea that you won’t have a set quarterback to fill that final spot; instead, you’ll swap players into that position on a weekly basis, primarily based on their matchups and point potential. If you want to read more about streaming in a 2-QB league, I’d recommend this article by J.J. Zachariason from last year.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at three streaming options for Week 1 of the 2014 season and see if we can find any values on the waiver wire.

(Let me note that these names are geared heavily toward 2-QB leagues, so I have left out quarterbacks who, based on Average Draft Position (ADP) data, should already be owned in those leagues)

Geno Smith, at home vs. the Raiders

Geno Smith is one of my favorite low-end quarterbacks this year, and I think he’ll have particularly good value in this first week as he goes against a Raiders defense that is likely as bad or worse than it was last year. According to Salvatore Stefanile over at XNSports, Smith is currently the 31st quarterback off the board in 2-QB drafts, so you’re likely to find him on the waiver wire this week.

Last year, Smith finished as the 20th-best quarterback, despite struggling to lead an offense devoid of offensive weapons. He had four 20-point games, two of which came in his final four matchups. In the final four games of the season, Smith averaged more than 40 rushing yards per game and had three rushing touchdowns. Not only did the young quarterback end the season on a four-week high note, but he also had an off-season that brought him more playmakers on offense.

The Jets brought in Eric Decker to fill the gaping void they previously had at wide receiver. James Todd over at Rotoviz expects Eric Decker to finish with PPR numbers that make him WR17 this year, a far cry from Jeremy Kerley, who led the Jets at wide receiver and finished as WR66 last year. Decker’s addition gives Smith a much better red zone target, which could lead to an increase in his passing totals.

Finally, the Jets’ Week 1 matchup is against the Oakland Raiders, who allowed the 28th-most passing yards per game last year, and, according to ESPN, were the 30th-worst team in terms of fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Add that to the fact that the Raiders will be flying from the west coast to the east coast for an early game — a situation that typically bodes well for the east coast team. According to Scott Kacsmar, from 2007-2011, west coast teams went 19-52 in early games on the east coast.

The lesson: bet against teams traveling all the way across the country to play in a 1 pm game; you can benefit from their incredibly low 26.8 win percentage.

Putting all those pieces together, I’ll be playing Geno Smith in several leagues this week as a low-end QB2.

Carson Palmer, on the road vs. the Chargers

Carson Palmer and the Cardinals travel to San Diego to face the Chargers in Week 1, and they play a defense that gave up the 29th-most passing yards in 2013 and allowed the 24th-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks. He’s currently priced at an ADP of QB20.

Palmer is an intriguing option for anyone wanting upside from a very low-end QB2 this year, primarily because of the offense he plays for. Bruce Arians, the Cardinals’ head coach, emphasizes the passing game, to the great benefit of his quarterbacks’ fantasy value. Arians has been either a head coach or offensive coordinator since 2001, and his offenses haven’t finished in the bottom half of the league in passing attempts since 2008, when they finished seventeenth. The Cardinals will throw a lot, and Carson Palmer’s volume should make up for his penchant for throwing interceptions.

Chad Henne, on the road vs. the Eagles

At the time of writing, the Jaguars appear committed to letting Chad Henne open Week 1 as their starting quarterback. Henne finished 2013 with five consecutive double-digit fantasy games. According to ESPN, Henne’s performance from Weeks 13-17 was good enough for 12th among all quarterbacks. So far this season, his ADP is at QB30.

In the off-season, the Jaguars added several offensive weapons, including rookie wide receiver Marqise Lee and running back Toby Gerhart. They have also seen great promise from undrafted free agent wide receiver Allen Hurns, who has thirteen catches for 250 yards and a touchdown through three preseason games. Although the Jaguars’ offense is trending upward, I am hesitant to rush out and start Chad Henne in Week 1 because it may take the young offensive weapons a few weeks to hit their stride and begin to fully understand the offensive scheme.

The Jaguars’ opponents, the Eagles, gave up the 27th-most fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks last year, and they were dead last in passing yards allowed.

I’ll be reluctant to start Chad Henne in Week 1, despite the great matchup, just because of how much turnover their offense had in the offseason. That said, he’s a name to keep an eye on as he opens the season against several weak passing defenses.

Other Streaming QB Options?

If you want to see a few more streaming QB options (although the list is tailored to traditional 1-QB leagues), check out this Week 1 streaming QB article from C. D. Carter.

I only offered you three suggestions for streaming your QB2 position, although your league likely has several other quarterbacks on the waiver wire. Who are you thinking about starting in Week One? Leave a comment or shoot me a message on twitter.

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