Streaming Quarterbacks in Deep, 14-Team Leagues
It's as predictable as an unapologetic homer pick in the first round of your home fantasy league: The charge that, in 14-team leagues, streaming the quarterback position -- playing matchups -- simply does not work.
The charge is that quarterback replaceability, a very real thing, doesn't translate to leagues of more than 12 teams. Every team must secure a trusted, every-week starter, the argument goes, or they'll be at a distinct and continuous disadvantage. More than 40 quarterbacks post at least one top-12 fantasy performance every season, with the number of startable quarterbacks growing every season.
Twenty signal callers had at least six startable weeks in 2013, with many available on the waiver wire for anyone and everyone to grab. And with powerful tools like 4for4's schedule-adjusted fantasy points, it's easier than ever to spot a juicy matchup and exploit it while your league mates roll out the same quarterback week after week, no matter the circumstances.
There are plenty of viable quarterbacks going late in 14-team drafts. While it's true that the waiver wire in those deep leagues won't be flush with enticing streaming plays every single week, it's a fallacy to say that streaming signal callers is not an option outside of standard-sized leagues.
Let's not forget that quarterbacks like Ryan Fitzpatrick, Tyrod Taylor, and Mark Sanchez could step in at any point in the season and be immediately useful for those who devalue the quarterback position. Yes, even Johnny Manziel -- no longer Johhny Football -- could be a deep league quarterback asset in 2015 (Josh McCown is terrible, in case you missed it).
Here are three guys I'm targeting in deep leagues, if you're into that sort of thing. They're cheap and will be available very late. They might even be on your waiver wire come Week 1. The below average draft positions are for 14 team leagues (FFCalculator).
Marcus Mariota (TEN): ADP 12.14
Mariota, the assumed starter in Tennessee, will likely be on a terrible team that won't have the luxury of hiding their green quarterback behind a stout running attack and a stellar defense, like Seattle did with Russell Wilson in 2013.
What does that mean for those intent on streaming in 14-team leagues? It means the versatile, mobile rookie signal caller will see a good number of drop backs and throws in an offense that isn't exactly without weapons. Tennessee coaches have said that Mariota will run when the opportunity presents itself, which should be music to the ears of anyone who understands the value of quarterback rushing points.
Mariota was one of the most efficient quarterbacks in college football history, if adjusted yards per pass attempt is any indication (it is). We should always value a quarterback who produces efficiently, not just with massive volume. I think there's reason to believe Mariota could transform into something close to an every-week fantasy starter. The matchups, as always, will matter.
Alex Smith (KC): ADP 14.06
2013's 12th highest scoring fantasy quarterback is being drafted as the 29th quarterback off the draft board in 2015. Probably that's due in large part to Smith's QB19 finish in 2014. That disappointing campaign, however, include four games against the brutal defenses of the NFC West. Smith has been highly matchup dependent during his time as a Chief, notching 5.1 more fantasy points against bottom-half pass defenses over those two seasons.
He was hardly useable in last year's NFC West matchups. It all makes sense. Kansas City takes on the NFC North in 2015, which I consider a marked strength of schedule improvement.
Kansas City coaches have recently pushed Smith to be more aggressive down the field in an offensive scheme that could open up with the emergence of Travis Kelce, the addition of Jeremy Maclin, and increased usage of potentially explosive pass catchers De'Anthony Thomas and Albert Wilson.
I think Smith's 2015 ceiling is exceptionally high, though his floor remains pretty low. But in the 14th round of a 14-team league, who cares? It's the ceiling we're chasing.
Geno Smith (NJY): ADP Undrafted
Smith, for better or worse, is the unquestioned starter in New York. Probably most fantasy owners (rightly) see Smith as a joke of sorts because when he's been bad, he's been really bad. Some would say historically awful.
But when Geno is good, he's good. He has notched 23.6 fantasy points in Gang Green wins since 2012 -- more than double his output in Jets losses. He's relatively mistake free in Jets wins (0.55 interceptions) and averages almost 1.5 touchdown tosses in those contests. Geno has given fantasy owners brave enough to roster him a decent amount of rushing production too. He scores 6.1 fantasy points on the ground in Gang Green wins.
When game flow is on his side, he's been a fantastic fantasy asset.
How do we know when Geno might be in for a not-horrible outing? Vegas lines might be most helpful. When Vegas has the Jets listed as big underdogs, fade Geno. When Vegas projects a close game, deploy Geno with a little trepidation. And when New York is favored, roll out the guy throwing to a legit group of weapons in a re-tooled offense. Eric Decker, Jace Amaro and Brandon Marshall are all big-bodied targets that could represent a red zone boon for the mercurial Geno.