Streaming Quarterbacks: Week 1 Fantasy Football Targets
The wait is over, and Week 1 is finally here. If you’ve subscribed to the late-round QB approach, weekly matchups are studied for viable starters. Defensive units, quarterback efficiency, and home/road splits become common metrics of interest to identify your upcoming starter. But, let us at 4for4 do the work for you! Our Schedule-Adjusted Fantasy Points Allowed (aFPA) metric gives us a starting point for highlighting defenses to target. Afterward, we can dive into the QBs themselves to find the most optimal waiver wire targets. Before we investigate the QBs, here are a few guidelines for the recommendations:
- Only quarterbacks available in at least 60 percent of Yahoo leagues will be considered.
- Ancillary metrics and game conditions (e.g. defensive ranking, weather) will be factored into the analysis.
- Positive matchups for all pass catchers will be considered.
- 4for4 rankings should always be consulted for league-specific decisions.
Home quarterbacks take priority over visiting quarterbacks, but the Week 1 schedule provides waiver wire targets with ideal opponents. They’ve been grouped and are discussed below.
Top Streaming Picks
Joe Flacco vs Bills (Ownership: 7%)
Flacco and the Ravens are seven-point home favorites against the Bills with a healthy implied team total of 23.75 (meaning Vegas expects them to score that many points against the Bills). The Ravens will be going up against Buffalo led by Nathan Peterman. The Bills apparent disarray on offense combined with Baltimore’s first-ranked defense should keep Joe Flacco on the field often in Week 1. The Ravens have added both Michael Crabtree and John ‘Smokey’ Brown with a powerful running back tandem between Alex Collins and Javorius Allen to support his passing options. The Bills' safeties (Micah Hyde and Jordan Poyer) are two of the best in the game, but their corners (Vontae Davis and Phillip Gaines) can be exploited.
Despite the drop in passing efficiency (AY/A down from 6.0 in 2016 to 5.3 in 2017), Flacco’s touchdown efficiency increased over the same period (3 to 3.3). It won’t look flashy, but he’s at home against our 20th ranked defense. He’s also a stash for Week 2 as the Ravens take on the Bengals who are projected to allow 16.8 schedule-adjusted points to opposing quarterbacks this season.
Flacco is available in 93% of Yahoo leagues public leagues and is a viable streaming target for Weeks 1 and 2.
Blake Bortles at Giants (Ownership: 33%)
After 2017, fantasy owners should know what to expect when starting Blake Bortles. Jacksonville’s run-first approach would seemingly cap his upside, but Bortles gets in on the action as well (seventh in QB rush yards in 2017). Even with the loss of Marqise Lee, Bortles has multiple options in the passing game, from preseason-hyped Keelan Cole to newly acquired Austin Sefarian-Jenkins. The Jaguars’ sixth-ranked defense will give Bortles multiple opportunities to put points up on the board along with their 15th ranked offensive line (per Pro Football Focus) keeping him upright. The Jaguars are away, but the Giants rank 21st in schedule-adjusted points to quarterbacks and are the 21st ranked defense in Week 1. New York’s decline in their defensive secondary should make for an efficient pass outing for Bortles.
Bortles has been up and down with respect to efficiency over the last three years. His TD rate has been below league average the past two years, but his 8 percent increase from 2016 to 2017 is promising. Coupled with his 15 percent jump in adjusted yards per attempt, Bortles has both the skill and surrounding talent to be an optimal starting QB in Week 1.
Deep-League Streaming Picks
Case Keenum vs Seahawks (Ownership: 24%)
Earl Thomas' holdout is key to this recommendation. Seattle opens the season ranked seventh in quarterback aFPA, but the Legion of Boom is no more. The Seahawks are the 14th ranked defense this week and Denver plays host with a 22.5 implied team total. Keenum’s coming off a 15.9 PPG season and has the surrounding talent to start out the season as a practical fantasy starter.
Ryan Tannehill vs Titans (Ownership: 7%)
We don’t know yet know what the Dolphins will look like in 2018. DeVante Parker is still nursing a finger injury while is Tannehill coming off an ACL injury. However, he’s still worth a look in deeper leagues for Week 1. 4for4 projects the Titans as a middling defense against quarterbacks and Tannehill has been at or above the league TD rate two out of his last three seasons. Miami opens the season ranked 23rd in aFPA to opposing quarterbacks which should create a game script that favors the Miami passing game. They’re at home with a 23.25 implied point total making Tannehill a consideration.
In addition, Miami plays the Jets in Week 2. If you pick up Tannehill in Week 1, hold on to him until a more promising matchup occurs the following week.
Quarterback to Bench
Derek Carr vs Rams (Ownership: 57%)
Derek Carr finished 2017 as the 19th ranked quarterback and opens the 2018 season against a secondary that ranks eighth in aFPA to quarterbacks. Michael Crabtree is gone, and we don’t know how in sync Carr is with either Jordy Nelson or Jared Cook. Best to let this one play out and wait until Week 3 when the Raiders go to Miami.
Week 2: Case Keenum vs Raiders (Ownership: 24%)
Oakland opens the season ranked 30th in schedule-adjusted points allowed to quarterbacks and just shipped off their best pass rusher in Khalil Mack. His Week 1 performance should be closely monitored for adjustments to the new offensive scheme, but Keenum should be on your target list for Week 2.
Photo by Grant Halverson/Getty Images.