Streaming the quarterback position has been a thing for several years in the fantasy football world, at least since J.J. Zachariason popularized the idea in his e-book, The Late Round Quarterback. In our COVID-19 world, it’s more important than ever to be flexible and understand how to stream quarterbacks and all positions. And if you’re still alive in the fantasy playoffs, you have to question everything. In late August, you didn’t draft Tom Brady, Russell Wilson, Dak Prescott, and Kyler Murray to get outscored by Davis Mills – which happened in week 15 and may have eliminated your fantasy team from the playoffs.
If you managed to survive the first round of the fantasy playoffs, congrats! Now it’s on to week 2 and you should toss out the window any emotions tied to your current starting QB. No one cares how much you paid for him on draft day or what he cost you in trade. And you shouldn’t care either. Fantasy managers who refused to pivot off Dak and Lamar may have missed the playoffs and are watching from the sidelines now. The only thing that matters now is winning this week and on to your fantasy championship match.
Let’s dive into how to stream quarterbacks in fantasy football.
Check the Trends
I like to review 4-week trends. Looking at season-long stats doesn’t really help us because you’re not going to find an available streaming quarterback in the top-12. Also, the last 4 game trend can uncover an emerging quarterback or one who is hitting his stride. I use the fantasy points browser tool by 4for4.com as it lets me select the range of weeks I want to review, has different scoring settings, and allows me to custom sync my league’s scoring. A free option with less versatility is NFL Fantasy. I bet you didn’t know that Jared Goff and Ben Roethlisberger are the #7 and #8 scoring QBs over the last 4 weeks, ahead of Mahomes, Wilson, Murray, Jackson, and Prescott. Jimmy Garoppolo comes in as QB11 during this time.
After I create a list of streamable QB options with a solid 4-week trend, I look at the last 2 weeks to pick up any recent changes in the QB landscape. Going into week 16, I discover that Ravens backup QB Tyler Huntley posted 15.3 fantasy points in week 14 and 35.9 points in week 15. As the number 3 QB over the last 2 weeks, Huntley is a streaming option if Jackson misses another game. See the chart below for other streaming option quarterbacks with decent performances over the last 2 weeks.
Streaming Quarterbacks Against Defenses
Next, I use the NFL Fantasy site’s fantasy points against tool to see which defenses have been giving up a lot of points to quarterbacks. Hey, we’re talking about living the QB stream here and these guys will need all the help that they can get. So, let’s try to not start a streamer against the Patriots or the Bills who are the league’s stingiest defenses against quarterbacks. Again, I like to look at the last 4 games as this could reflect recent changes to personnel due to injuries. Over the last 4 games, the ten best teams to start quarterbacks against are (I’m including each teams’ week 16 matchup) :
- Packers v. Browns
- Bears @ Seahawks
- Chargers @ Texans
- Falcons v. Lions
- Bucs @ Panthers
- Cardinals v. Colts
- Jets v. Jaguars
- Vikings v. Rams
- Ravens @ Bengals
- Raiders v. Denver
When I toggle to the entire 2021 season, I find that the Falcons, Vikings, Bears, Jets, Ravens, and Packers hold top 10 spots there as well. With this list of top 10 defenses to target, I scan my previous compilation of streamable QBs to see if there is any crossover. I find three in this case – Davis Mills v. Chargers; Jared Goff v. Falcons (He was put on the COVID-19 list today, but still has a shot to play); and Cam v. Bucs. Mayfield against the Packers is probably available, but no thanks. Same for Lawrence against the Jets.
Wentz against the Cardinals is appealing even though his fantasy performances of late are less than aspiring. And of course, any Indy outing can quickly turn into a big Jonathan Taylor game. However, Arizona is much better at stopping the run than the pass. On the season and over the last 4 weeks, Arizona is 13th best against the run and over the last 2 weeks, Arizona has risen to the 9 spot – surrendering only 15 points a game to running backs. By comparison, the league-worst Raiders give up 37.85 fantasy points to opposing running backs. And as I have discussed before, the Cardinals are much friendlier to their opposition at home. But if their run defense holds true to form and their pass defense does the same, it could be a solid game for Wentz.
In most cases, you want to play a quarterback at home, if possible, with Wentz an exception this week.
Aim for High-Scoring Games With Streamable Quarterbacks
Finally, when hunting a viable streaming quarterback, look at the total points predicted for all of the games and note the games with the highest implied point totals. If you can get a streaming QB in one of the games projected for the highest scores, why wouldn’t you? The Colts v. the Cardinals check in as the game with the second-highest predicted score of 49 points with the Cards 25-Colts 24. Another box checked for Wentz.
The Chiefs/Steelers game at 46 points is the fourth-highest game on the slate and Big Ben met our 2 game requirement above. While the Chiefs’ defense has played better lately, on the season they are the fourth-best team to play your quarterbacks against. But buyer beware, the game is at Arrowhead and Ben is historically not great in away games.
Baltimore at Cincinnati is projected for 45.5 points which keeps Huntley in our sights if he plays. On the season, Cincy is decent against QBs, giving up 16.72 points a game. In comparison, the Pats give up 11.58 and the WFT gives up a league-worst 22 points a game. But the WFT plays Dallas this week and I doubt that you find Dak on waivers. I like Huntley because in his 3 full games this year, he’s rushed 26 times for 158 yards (6.07 ypc) and 2 touchdowns. A running QB is great for fantasy football, even if not for real football. Right, Eagles fans? Another consideration for this game is that the Ravens are one of the top 10 defenses to target for QBs, remember? And COVID-19 continues to ravage and deplete the Ravens defense. If Bengals QB Burrow has a field day at home, the Ravens will be playing from behind and that should keep the ball in Huntley’s hands.
Check for Knuckleheads in Your League
Well, I guess the final step is to check your league’s waiver wire to see which quarterbacks are available. You might be surprised as to who’s been dumped there. Maybe a knucklehead fantasy manager dropped Dak after Dak ruined his playoff dreams with 4 horrendous games out of the last 5. If you’re one of the lucky ESPN leagues in which Dak is 2.1% available, snatch him up and play him against the WFT’s league-worst defense against quarterbacks.
In recap, check for widely available quarterbacks who are trending up over their last 2 and 4 games; stream against defenses that give up a lot of points to the QB position; target high-scoring games, and as always, be on the watch for league boneheads. Good luck this week in your fantasy matchup and if you need a good streaming quarterback, I hope that the fantasy football gods smile down upon you.