Picking the best options when you try to stream quarterbacks is not an exact science – it’s a bold and daring strategy that offers a lot of risk and reward. If I could find the exact science to stream quarterbacks, I wouldn’t be writing about it. But while it’s bold, when you draft to employ this strategy, and succeed, it can be extremely rewarding.
However, getting it wrong can be deflating (especially if it just cost you a matchup by just a couple of points) or, at the very least, can make you re-evaluate how you pick your options. Targeting the right defenses can aid your strategy, but you have to monitor each team on a weekly basis, not just overall. Remember, fantasy football is a weekly game, especially if you stream quarterbacks.
My case in point is figuring out the Chiefs’ performance against quarterbacks. Looking at a team’s defense isn’t perfect for picking matchups – but it can guide you in the right direction sometimes. In Week 1, they allowed Brian Hoyer and Ryan Mallet to combine for 334 yards and 3 touchdowns. Hoyer was replaced by Mallet within that game, but neither has been great this year (and Mallet was just released).
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Week 2 saw Peyton Manning put up his best game of the season, but even that was just 256 yards and 3 touchdowns, with most coming late in the second half. Week 3 saw the Chiefs’ average points against quarterbacks shoot up when Aaron Rodgers tossed the pigskin for 333 yards and 5 touchdowns.
But since Week 3, the Chiefs have looked better on defense — Andy Dalton put up 312 yards but only 1 touchdown in Week 4; Jay Cutler got two touchdowns but only 252 yards. I thought it would hold there for my last two streaming picks of the week also: Teddy Bridgewater and Landry Jones.
I was a week too early on Bridgewater – the Chiefs game caused him to stumble to 249 yards and a touchdown but 2 interceptions as well (though he redeemed himself against the Lions). I also bought in a little too much of the Landry Jones train – he managed just 209 yards and 1 touchdown. Add two interceptions and a fumble by Jones and he only put up six fantasy points in Week 7.
So in a general sense, we shouldn’t expect 300 passing yards from a quarterback when they play the Chiefs (they rank 20th in yards allowed) but it’s not unreasonable to expect at least a couple touchdowns (their 15 touchdowns allowed ranks 25th on the season) per matchup.
This is the risk and reward when you stream quarterbacks though, and hopefully you did better than I last week. One of the nice surprises was Ryan Tannehill – getting rid of Philbin could allow him to reach the potential we’ve all been waiting for. Brian Hoyer and EJ Manuel also managed to finish as a QB1 last week, pushing names like Cam Newton and Russell Wilson into the QB2 range again.
Kirk Cousins takes the cake though, tying Tom Brady as the top quarterback in Week 7 with 29 fantasy points. Cousins only blemish was a fumble on a day that saw him throw for over 300 yards, 3 touchdowns and run in for another touchdown. One game won’t make me believe in Cousins, but it was the second matchup in a row the Buccaneers allowed 28 or more fantasy points to the quarterback.
Make sure you check out the 2QB team’s quarterback rankings this week and reach out on twitter if you have any questions! On to my streamer of the week and a look at the rest of the Week 8 matchups.
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Streamer of the Week: Alex Smith
If the status of Marcus Mariota was a little clearer, this pick would be a little harder this week. Remember, Mariota has put up QB2-type performances or better in four of his five matchups this year and he’s just a rookie. The Texans just got steamrolled by Tannehill, so I’d feel confident in Mariota if he’s given the green light to play.
But since Mariota is a question mark, my streaming pick this week is Alex Smith. He has finished as an elite QB2 option (top-18 finish) in five of his seven matchups so far this season and he’s not afraid of throwing touchdowns to his receivers this year. With Jamaal Charles out, the Chiefs could air it out a little more, increasing Smith’s volume a little.
The matchup against the Lions does make me a little nervous though. The Lions are a bottom-10 team in passing yards allowed on the season but have only given up 12 passing touchdowns to opposing quarterbacks. However, Philip Rivers, Jay Cutler and Bridgewater have had great success against this secondary, giving me confidence in Alex Smith as my streamer this week.
Carson Palmer – Marcus Mariota, Ryan Fitzpatrick and Derek Carr all threw for two touchdowns against the Browns; Philip Rivers tossed three. I’m expecting Palmer to put up some nice numbers this week.
Andy Dalton – you can breathe again if you had to squeak by when Dalton was on bye last week. He gets the Steelers, which should prove to be a fairly profitable week.
Tom Brady – the Patriots quarterback is the early front-runner for real-life and fantasy MVP right now. The Dolphins defense isn’t as good as you’d think and Brady was QB2 when facing the Jets. Another ho-hum week for the quarterback everyone loves to hate.
Philip Rivers – the Ravens best weeks came against a Peyton Manning that isn’t himself anymore and Mike Vick. Rivers could have a better week than the three others above him.
Matt Ryan – so, the Buccaneers fall into the “not-as-good-as-we-thought” boat too after the Kirk Cousins beatdown they took.
Cam Newton – no, I’m not too scared of his three interception game. He gets the Colts, a defense that has allowed at least 15 points to quarterbacks in 6 of their 7 games. The Colts aren’t exactly feared against the run either.
You Hope They Land in the QB1 Range:
Teddy Bridgewater – pushed him in a week I shouldn’t have and downplayed him in a week where he finally shined. I’d advise caution again this week, but then again, he does get to play the Chicago Bears.
Aaron Rodgers – like Bridgewater, Rodgers gets to reside in a division where he faces the Bears twice a season; unlike Bridgewater, Rodgers has probably the toughest matchup this week. But it’s Rodgers, right? I’m not expecting 30 fantasy points this week, but a 15 or 16 point performance could end up in the low-QB1 range.
Alex Smith – stream him this week!
Eli Manning – I almost put the younger Manning as my streaming pick, but that would kind of be cheating considering his high ownership percentage. The only quarterback the Saints could contain was Brandon Weeden.
Ryan Tannehill – if Brady runs up the score, he could be throwing a lot. The Patriots don’t have the best secondary anyway, so no matter how you look at it, Tannehill should net his third QB1 finish of the season.
Matthew Stafford – I warned you about the Chiefs above, so you should be somewhat cautious here. However, a new playcaller could make all the difference for Stafford.
Marcus Mariota – if he plays, I’m definitely streaming him against the Texans. If not, Zach Mettenberger would not take his place on this list. Mettenberger would be a low-end QB2 for me this week.
Ryan Fitzpatrick – Derek Carr and Fitzmagic could end up in a shootout this week. Stream the Jets quarterback with confidence.
Sam Bradford – I’m still not crazy about the Eagles offense but the 49ers aren’t exactly tough against quarterbacks. I’m fine streaming him, but expect mid to high QB2 numbers from him.
Jay Cutler – the Vikings will pose a semi-touch matchup but Cutler is playing with Alshon Jeffery this week. Cutler could put up elite QB2 numbers and may even knock on the door of a QB1 finish.
Note: Each of the following quarterbacks have the talent to finish as a QB1 this week, but it won’t be easy. Depending on your options, I may or may not start these guys this week. If you do start them, just temper your expectations.
Drew Brees – the Giants made Colin Kaepernick look good in Week 5 and struggled against Tony Romo in Week 1. But they also held Sam Bradfor and Matt Cassel to a combined 16 fantasy points. Brees could have a nice week, but it won’t come pretty.
Ben Roethlisberger – Big Ben is back and has two QB1 finishes (out of his three games) in his favor. Going against him, however, is a Bengals defense that has held Derek Carr, Philip Rivers and Russell Wilson in check. But Roethlisberger has weapons they don’t have. I’m seeing Big Ben as high-end QB2 this week with an outside chance at a QB1 finish.
Peyton Manning – the Packers defense is opportunistic and Peyton leads the league in interceptions. A week off may be what he needed, but Dom Capers and the Packers secondary won’t make it easy on him.
Andrew Luck – the Panthers will be one of the toughest matchups for Luck this season. He’s got weapons, but temper any high expectations for Luck this week against a defense that has held four different quarterbacks to 12 or less fantasy points.
Russell Wilson – the Cowboys have been either really good or really bad. They held Eli Manning to 13 total fantasy points in both of their matchups, but allowed 20 or more points to Matt Ryan, Drew Brees and Tom Brady. Wilson may not put up 20 points this week, but should finish in the top 18 of quarterbacks in Week 8.
Derek Carr – I can’t 100% recommend Carr as a streaming option this week, even if I am starting him myself. I’m nervously starting him as he faces the Jets. True, Brady just put up 29 fantasy points against them, but it’s Tom Brady! Carr is a lot better than the other quarterbacks the Jets have faced though, so Carr could surprise us all this week against a stingy Jets defense.
Joe Flacco – the Chargers have allowed 19 or more points in 4 of their 7 games, but that’s not the reason I’m low on Flacco. I’m low on him because I’m uneasy about that offense still. Flacco threw an interception late that was very costly against the Cardinals this past week; don’t let him cost you a win this week if you can avoid it.
Jameis Winston – the Falcons have been hit or miss against quarterbacks, but mostly a hit. If the Winston-Mike Evans connection carries over this week, Winston could be a surprise hit. Winston turned the ball over eight times in his first four games but has no turnovers in his last two games. If he doesn’t turn the ball over again, Winston could have the makings of a solid streaming option.
Colin Kaepernick – the Rams don’t like quarterbacks and have held four quarterbacks to 14 or less points. Even Carson Palmer only had 16 fantasy points. Expect the Kaepernick from Weeks 4 and 7 this week, not the version we saw in Weeks 5 and 6.
Don’t Go Down This Road:
Matt Cassel – the new Cowboys quarterback finished as a QB2 last week (23rd best to be fair here) with just 7.5 points in standard leagues, but that still beat out Sam Bradford, Eli Manning and Nick Foles. This week he gets the Seahawks. I wouldn’t wish starting Cassel on anyone this week.
Josh McCown – the 35 point outburst in Week 5 will keep McCown relevant for most of the season, even if he has only eclipsed 20 points only one other time this season. He may not even play if his shoulder doesn’t do well this week in practice. And no, I don’t consider Johnny Manziel much of an upgrade.
Brian Hoyer – The Titans are on the docket and a shift to airing it out all the time could help or hurt Hoyer. But with no Arian Foster the rest of the way, I need to see a couple more weeks of Hoyer before I can buy into his use as a streaming option as his three best weeks came with Foster in the lineup.