Streaming Quarterbacks Primer and Draft Targets
Hey there! I’m Joshua Lake. The kind folks here at 4for4 brought me on to cover QB streaming for the 2015 season.
I have been streaming quarterbacks for years now, particularly focusing on the very bad, very late-round picks. Much of my experience has been in two-quarterback leagues, where the weekly decisions come down to questions like “Josh McCown or Shaun Hill?”.
This year I will be writing a weekly article identifying the best streaming quarterbacks for that week. As the inimitable C.D. Carter has done before me, I will limit my weekly selections to players available in at least 40% of all Yahoo fantasy leagues.
With that introduction, let’s get on to the task at hand: identifying streaming QB targets.
Identifying Streaming QB Targets for Our Drafts
As the great Mr. Carter has taught us, streamers are planners.
If you live and die by the waiver wire, you need to stay several steps ahead of your competition. You will be looking weeks ahead, scouting for soft quarterback matchups and projecting breakouts before they occur.
Now that fantasy drafts are underway, it is time to put that strategizing to use and pick a couple early-season targets.
To find streaming QB targets, I started with the first three weeks of Schedule-Adjusted Fantasy Points Allowed (aFPA) to find favorable early matchups. Then, I removed any quarterback drafted in the first seventy-two picks from consideration, because if you plan to stream quarterbacks, there is zero chance you should be taking a quarterback in the first six rounds of a 12-team draft. The value just isn’t there.
After looking at the best three-week stretch, I included an extra focus on the best Week 1 matchups, adding in both aFPA and Vegas projections for that first game. Chris Raybon has taught us to use Vegas lines to identify lower-tier quarterbacks ready to provide weekly value.
At the end of that process, five teams stood above the rest by a fair margin: Arizona, Cincinnati, Miami, New England, and Tampa Bay. I left out New England, which presents an interesting conundrum, given the ongoing legal battle over Tom Brady's suspension. For more thoughts on exploiting that situation, read up on John Paulsen’s Angry Tom strategy.
Below I have broken down the strengths of three of the remaining four targets, leaving out Miami’s Ryan Tannehill, whom I consider unlikely to hit waiver wires this season, making him unavailable for streaming purposes. (Our QB projections expect Tannehill to finish as QB9 this season.)
QB Streaming Draft Targets
Carson Palmer (ARI) - ADP: 151
The Arizona Cardinals have one of the softest first three weeks in the league when it comes to quarterback matchups, playing New Orleans and San Francisco at home, and going on the road to Chicago. Palmer finished 2014 twelfth among all quarterbacks in fantasy points per game, yet you can draft him well into the twelfth round or later in 12-team leagues. In Week 1, Vegas projects the Cardinals to score 25 points against the Saints, good enough for third-best among all our streaming-caliber quarterbacks.
Andy Dalton (CIN) - ADP: 173
Andy Dalton came off a top-five 2013 season to disappoint fantasy owners last year, but the Bengals get back A.J. Green, Marvin Jones, and Tyler Eifert for Week 1. Dalton opens with favorable matchups against Oakland, San Diego, and Baltimore to start the year; and Vegas projects the Bengals to put up 24 points in Week 1. Dalton is a candidate to massively outperform his ADP in the first few weeks.
Jameis Winston (TEN) - ADP: 155
You may, like me, hesitate to target a rookie quarterback set to start his first professional games, but the numbers lead to this conclusion: he’s a worthy option. The first two weeks present appealing matchups for Winston: home against the Titans and on the road in New Orleans. Vegas lines currently project the Buccaneers for 22.5 points in Week 1.
Quarterbacks to Fade for Early Streaming
Derek Carr (OAK) - ADP: 183
The Oakland Raiders face two tough AFC North defenses in the first three weeks: against Cincinnati and on the road in Cleveland. Schedule-adjusted fantasy points suggest there are few worse matchups for quarterbacks: CIN (13.3) and CLE (14.1). Vegas lines suggest a weak 20 points for the Raiders in Week 1. Stay far away from Derek Carr in your drafts.
Philip Rivers (SD) - ADP: 96
In many drafts Philip Rivers is falling far enough, often outside the first eight rounds, to qualify as a streaming option, but he makes for a risky play early in the season. The Chargers face Detroit in Week 1 before traveling to Cincinnati and Minnesota. In terms of schedule-adjusted fantasy points, that’s second-worst among streamable quarterback options – second only to Chicago. Rivers may be more talented and surrounded by a better offense than many streaming options, but his early schedule might prove tough sledding for would-be quarterback streamers.