This could be a rough week to stream quarterbacks as six teams are on bye, but the matchups are more promising than you realize for Week 9. We have eight weeks of data under us now, so let’s start looking at a different way to target defenses.
In Week 7, I looked at which quarterbacks had notched the most QB1 and QB2 finishes. In Week 8, I cautioned against strict use of Points Against for defenses versus quarterbacks. These are both tools in evaluating the good and bad matchups, but shouldn’t always be taken at face value without digging in more.
We can also evaluate which defenses have given up more QB1 or QB2 finishes compared to other teams. While none of the methods, even combined, will ever make for a perfect ranking or evaluation, my goal is to make you think about why you should start or sit someone, even if his name is Andrew Luck.
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So which team has allowed the most QB1 finishes so far this season? There’s actually three teams that have allowed six QB1 performances: Detroit (over eight games), Baltimore (eight) and Oakland (seven). The Ravens are slightly worse than the other two, allowing three of those quarterbacks to finish as an elite QB1, making them a plus matchup to target.
Another defense to target is New Orleans – they’ve allowed four QB1 finishes to Carson Palmer, Cam Newton, Andrew Luck and Eli Manning, with none of them finishing worse than QB5 in their respective week. New Orleans also gave up a QB13 finish to Sam Bradford and a QB14 finish to Matt Ryan. It’s safe to say they’re a nice defense for any quarterback and the currently have the highest average in points allowed to quarterbacks.
If you can’t target any of those four defenses, don’t sweat it. Breaking down which defenses have allowed the most top-18 finishes to quarterbacks gives us a plethora of options to stream quarterbacks against; it’s not as you should expect elite numbers each week – you’re really just looking for a quarterback to support your fantasy football team, not sink it.
Baltimore, Oakland and New Orleans are near the top in this category, but Detroit and Indianapolis have allowed more top-18 finishes in the league than everyone. All eight quarterbacks the Lions have faced have landed in the top-18 while the Colts have allowed seven top-18 finishes (including three top-10).
The Chargers, Texans, Bills, Jaguars and 49ers join the previously mentioned Ravens, Raiders and Saints in giving up six different top-18 finishes to quarterbacks. In the next tier, the Patriots, Browns, Buccaneers, Bears and Steelers have given up five top-18 finishes to quarterbacks so far. Chicago and Pittsburgh still are enticing matchups, but may not be as bad as initially thought at the beginning of the season.
On the flip side, there are seven defenses that I struggle streaming against: the Bengals, Vikings, Titans, Rams, Jets, Panthers and Broncos. All but New York, Carolina and Denver have surrendered just three top-18 finishes to quarterbacks this season. The Jets have surrendered two, and they were both elite QB1 performances by Tom Brady and Derek Carr in back to back weeks.
The Panthers have surrendered finishes of QB27, QB20, QB23, QB23, QB15, QB25 and QB16, respectively. The two highest finishes belong to Russell Wilson and Andrew Luck, not exactly the easiest matchup for Aaron Rodgers after being extremely limited against Denver. And speaking of the Broncos, the highest spot a quarterback has finished against them this year is QB19, Teddy Bridgewater in Week 4.
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So, with that information at hand, let’s get to the Streamer of the Week plus my rankings of each (potential) starter in Week 9. Be sure to follow me on twitter if you have any specific questions!
Streamer of the Week: Jay Cutler
Let’s start with who Cutler is facing first – the Chargers. As I just mentioned, the Chargers have given up six top-18 finishes to quarterbacks. The other two finishes were QB19 (Mike Vick) and QB33 (Teddy Bridgewater). This places the Chargers is that nice swing zone to stream quarterbacks against. Making even more of an attractive option is that the last three quarterbacks have all posted top-11 finishes.
Despite missing a game, Cutler has done more than enough to garner attention from streamers. His worst week was Week 2 (QB28) and was QB16 in Week 1. But after back from missing a game, Cutler has been on point. He’s posted starts that have seen him finish as the QB10, QB12, QB12, and QB9, respectively. If you’re forced to start an iffy option this week (see: Andrew Luck or Aaron Rodgers), Cutler could be a good quarterback to stream to help your 2QB team.
Andy Dalton – Dalton has finished outside QB1 status just once this season. The Browns have let three quarterbacks finish at least QB8 or higher.
Philip Rivers – four straight QB8 or higher finishes and five of those for the whole season and is the second-highest scoring quarterback in fantasy on a per game basis. The Bears have allowed five top-18 finishes on the season, so look for Rivers’ sixth top-12 QB finish on the season.
Tom Brady – 26 fantasy points per game and the Redskins have allowed four top-10 finishes to quarterbacks this season. Look for Brady to keep pacing the field in Week 9.
Peyton Manning – all-aboard the hype train for me on Peyton Manning despite his QB19 finish. However, it was his best finish over his last four starts and this week he gets the Colts. Sounds like a win-win for me.
Ben Roethlisberger – Big Ben’s return could have been a little more inspiring than his QB22 finish, but like Peyton, I love his matchup this week. The Raiders have allowed six top-18 finishes this year, with five of them falling in the QB7 to QB12 range. Should be a great game for all Steelers players, not just Roethlisberger.
Marcus Mariota – in the true spirit of streaming quarterbacks, I won’t put Mariota as my streamer pick of the week, even if he is 34% owned on both ESPN and Yahoo. In your 2QB or Superflex league, you may have trouble finding him if an owner was content sitting him on their bench through his injury, but if he is, I like him against the swiss cheese of the Saints secondary this week if he gets the start.
Matt Ryan – we’ve seen some good and bad finishes from Ryan this year, partly due to Devonta Freeman‘s outstanding performances a couple weeks in a row. But when the game flow favors the Falcon’s passing attack, Ryan has finished as an elite QB2 on four different occasions and as a QB1 two other times. He should have a nice week against a 49ers team that is spiraling downward.
Eli Manning – if Drew Brees wouldn’t have decided to double his touchdown total for the season in one week, Eli Manning would have finished as the top quarterback in Week 8. However, it was Manning’s second time finishing as a QB2 and his fourth time with a top 10 QB finish.
Derek Carr – the Steelers have allowed quarterback finishes of QB1, QB4, QB29, QB30, QB8, QB18, QB14 and QB21. Carr has been a top-six quarterback (elite, so to speak) in his past two starts. If the Steelers secondary decides to play like the beginning of the season, Carr could be a great play; if that secondary shows up, Carr should still finish as a QB2, which could help or hurt your team depending on how you have to use him.
Tyrod Taylor – he’s back and Manuel didn’t actually look horrible (QB10 & QB13 finishes), so Taylor should be able to pick up where he left off, finishing as a QB14 in four of his five games. The Dolphins aren’t the easiest matchup, but they have also allowed three top-seven finishes. Taylor could finish as a low-end QB1 this week.
Cam Newton – Newton has thrown eight interceptions this year and only five other quarterbacks have thrown more. A couple interceptions can turn a solid QB1 performance to a low-end QB2 performance very quickly though Newton’s saving grace is his ability for rushing touchdowns. He has four on the year, which is the most among all quarterbacks. The Packers have allowed 500 or more total yards in their last two games, causing me to put Newton higher in this article than I did in my initial ranks. Newton should be a lock for at least an elite QB2 finish this week.
Jay Cutler – streaming option of the week.
Jameis Winston – the Giants have allowed three top-10 finishes to quarterbacks this season but four other finishes between QB20 and QB24. Winston has only recently finished in the QB1 range. If Winston continues to improve this week, he’s at least a top QB2.
Geno Smith – despite Geno being hurt himself, he should get the nod above Ryan Fitzgerald this week at least. If he does get the start, he finally has weapons he hasn’t had before. He also gets the Jaguars who have allowed a QB14 finish or higher in five of their seven games. Fitzgerald would be in the running for my streamer of the week here, so I’m confident Smith will pan out ok as well. However, if the Jets look to Bryce Petty, I would not recommend putting Petty in your lineups.
Ryan Tannehill – it could be hard to figure out Tannehill as he’s finished in the top-18 three times but as a QB20 or worse four other times. However, the Bills have allowed a top-18 finish to every quarterback they’ve faced except Marcus Mariota in Week 5. File this in the “you-could-do-worse” section.
Kirk Cousins – after being down on Cousins the last couple weeks, he could give your team a nice boost this week depending on your other options. He’s flashed the potential of a top streaming option on occasion and faces a Patriots defense that has allowed a quarterback to finish in the top-18 in five of their seven games. That’s just enough for me to trust him for Week 9.
Drew Brees – Obviously Week 8 was an outlier for Brees, but it could show rapid signs of improvement for him as a fantasy football quarterback. He’s finished in the top-18 in all but one of his starts and has three QB1 finishes on the season so far. However, the Titans are one of the better defenses in fantasy football. They’ve allowed three top-15 finishes to quarterbacks, but have also held quarterbacks to a QB20 finish or worse on four occasions. Start Brees, but look for your best option to pair with him.
Blake Bortles – surprisingly, Bortles is QB10 on the season so far and finished as a QB8 or higher in Weeks 4, 5 and 6. He gets the Jets defense that couldn’t slow down Tom Brady and allowed a QB4 finish to Derek Carr. However, the Jets defense hadn’t allowed even a QB2 finish before the last two weeks. Are the Jets suddenly vulnerable or was Carr an outlier? If I don’t have to take the chance on Bortles this week I’m not, but there could certainly be worse options.
Aaron Rodgers – out of the frying pan and into the fire for Rodgers in Week 9. As I stated above, Rodgers joined a long list of quarterbacks that couldn’t get it done against the Broncos. Now one of the best quarterbacks to play the game gets Carolina, currently the second best defense against quarterbacks. You start him because he’s Aaron Rodgers, but, like Brees’ situation, find the best possible matchup you can for your second quarterback in Week 9.
Teddy Bridgewater – just two top-18 finishes to Bridgewater’s name this season. The Rams’ three-highest finishes allowed are QB15, QB13 and QB16. Bridgewater is barely a streaming option for me this week.
Sam Bradford – three top-18 finishes (which included the QB2 finish in Week 4), but finishes outside the top-24 in the rest of his games has me scratching my head. He faces a Dallas defense that has allowed three elite QB1 finishes, two QB2 finishes and two finishes outside the top-30. I’m somewhat stuck if I’d start Bradford, or the next guy on this list.
Andrew Luck – I’m benching Luck if I have a different option in Week 9. It may be crazy, but when no one has put up a top-18 finish against the Broncos, I’m not exactly excited about starting Luck this week.
Nick Foles – very similar to Bradford here with two top-10 finishes but four finishes outside the top-24. The Vikings have only allowed two top-12 finishes on the season though, so Foles is a guy I’d sit if at all possible.
Don’t Go Down This Road:
Johnny Manziel – short week against a stout defense. The Bengals have allowed three top-finishes to quarterbacks, but have held four others to finishes between QB20 and QB26. Since Manziel barely finished as a QB2 in his Week 2 start, I’m not expecting too much from him.
Matt Cassel – you could say that the Cowboys have been worse off with Cassel than Weeden. And yet they still only have two QB2 (barely) performances between them. Tony Romo is needed back and soon. The Eagles won’t make this any easier this week – they’ve only allowed one QB1 finish and three fringe top-18 finishes this season.