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As we enter week 10 tonight, I started to compare the process for streaming quarterbacks and streaming defenses. With quarterbacks, we have to look at the player himself (is he capable of a big game?) as well as the matchup (how porous is the opposing defense), the QBs weapons at wide receiver and running back, and the offensive game plan. Not only this, but we should also be looking at offensive cohesion: how well is the group working together and putting up points? Sometimes, it’s as simple as riding the “hot hand” while it stays hot. For defense, I think it’s a bit easier. Really, it comes down to defensive talent and the quality of the opponent. If an offense is lousy, we can always count on them to play uninspired football. Think about the difference of being on a team that’s 6-0 or being on the same team that’s 1-5. At 6-0, you are much more bought in and ready to fight. At 1-5, you kind of know it’s over already. We can see the complexity of quarterback streaming in the average number of streamers that show up each week in our top 12. Over the last four weeks, we have seen twelve streamers (less than 50% owned at the time) break into the top 12, or three per week. How does that stack up to streaming defenses? Over the last 2 weeks there, we’ve seen 16 stream-able options. If I go back another week, the number jumps to 23. So, it’s clearly easier to find options in the defensive market than it is to find worthwhile quarterbacks. Still, this doesn’t mean our strategy is dead…not by a long shot. It jumps means we need to adapt. If I could restart the season knowing how sparse good streamers would be, I would try to find an underrated guy and stick with him. Good options for this would have been Patrick Mahomes (some preseason hype) and Mitch Trubisky (after the first 3 weeks) if you wanted true sleepers. Otherwise, we could have gone with overlooked, but still clearly talented, quarterbacks in good offenses: Matt Ryan, Jared Goff, and Philip Rivers. Really, the most important takeaway is that we should try to get off the QB roller coaster at some point in favor of playing a hot hand. This being said, let’s take a look at how last week went.
|Player||Team||Opponent||Percent Owned||Fantasy Points|
|Drew Brees||New Orleans||LA Rams||100%||31.4|
|Jared Goff||LA Rams||New Orleans||96%||29.3|
|Patrick Mahomes||Kansas City||Cleveland||99%||26.8|
|Ryan Fitzpatrick||Tampa Bay||Carolina||66%||24.0|
|Nick Mullens||San Francisco||Oakland||3%||22.2|
|Cam Newton||Carolina||Tampa Bay||99%||21.2|
|Russell Wilson||Seattle||LA Chargers||93%||19.5|
|Aaron Rodgers||Green Bay||New England||100%||19.2|
It was another good week for offense with 10 players putting up 20+ points. Marcus Mariota and Nick Mullens were the only two players under 50% owned to crack the list, and I think it’s safe to say almost no one was starting them. Both would have been extremely risky, and I would consider both fool’s gold in terms of consistent success(however, one does make the streamer list this week…). Our guys were “streamer of the week” Alex Smith (16.4 points), Baker Mayfield (17.9 points), Joe Flacco (8.2 points), and Derek Carr (7.3 points). It was nice to see two viable choices and for us to have successfully identified the best two. Picking either put us less than 3 points off the list. The best point matchups last week were New Orleans vs LA Rams (predictable) and Tampa Bay vs Carolina (also predictable). I also liked the Kansas City vs Cleveland game, and it nearly gave us a double dip as well. We can take away that the worst defenses are still target-able, even if they make for the occasional miss. All this being said, let’s take a look at week 10’s options.
Andy Dalton (70%)
Here are some fantasy football truths I would be willing to be on this season: The New Orleans passing defense is not very good this year. Andy Dalton is having a very good, though clearly under the radar, fantasy season. The Bengals are playing the Saints this week. When choosing a quarterback to start, I want to know that he is capable (check), that his matchup is good (check), and that he could win the game (check). While I would put my money on the Saints, I wouldn’t be shocked to see the Bengals steal one from the Saints the week after New Orleans’ big win against the Rams. I love this option, and it is my top choice this week if available.
Alex Smith (46%)
Like Andy Dalton, Alex Smith is quietly having a good season of his own on a team that doesn’t depend on him carrying things. He has a 3-1 TD-Int. ratio, no outright “bad” games, and the Washington Redskins are first in the NFC East at 5-3. Smith probably has the lowest upside on this list, but I feel safe that he will hit at least a dozen points. He also benefits form a good matchup in Tampa Bay, but I would be more interested if the Buccaneers were less dysfunctional right now. I could see Tampa Bay stalling, the Redskins running away the clock, and the overall score staying low. Still, this match-up has proven excellent for many other quarterbacks this season, giving up multiple passing touchdowns in 6 straight games. You could easily do worse.
Baker Mayfield (43%, stream of the week)
Baker Mayfield has thrown multiple touchdowns in 3 straight games, and he had one of his best games of the year last week against Kansas City. Sure, K.C. is a pretty lousy passing defense, but so is Atlanta this week. What I really like is the change in coaching staff and the expectation that this will spark Mayfield to up his level of play. I don’t think it’s a coincidence that Mayfield’s best game was when the team finally changed coaches and let Hue Jackson and crew go. I feel like I preach the virtues of Baker Mayfield on a weekly basis, but I just can’t quit him. Perhaps I just remember what happened when I quit on Mitch Trubisky a week too early. Either way, Baker Mayfield is my stream of the week for week 10.
Marcus Mariota (29%, deeper leagues)
Marcus Mariota has popped into the top 12 list twice this week, and interestingly enough he did it against capable NFC East defenses in the Eagles and Cowboys. This week’s game against the Patriots should be much easier as New England gives up 270+ pass yards/ game (a number that would be over 300/wk if we excluded week 4 when Brock Osweiller somehow had only 35 pass yds) and they have allowed multiple passing touchdowns in two thirds of their games. The Tennessee offense worries me with it’s inconsistencies, but it did look good last week. I’m hoping that the trend continues, and I would start Mariota if all previous options are owned.
Eli Manning (17%, deeper leagues)
Yes, I’m recommending a Giants player for fantasy this week, and no he isn’t a wide receiver or a running back. I saved this one for last so you wouldn’t stop reading…knowing that I was crazy. Over his last 6 weeks, Eli Manning has averaged over 300 passing yards per game. Sure, their could be more touchdowns (just over 1 per game during that same stretch) and the team could look less awful. However, San Francisco has been pretty good to opposing quarterbacks if we dive deep. Before last week when they held Derek Carr, the 49ers were giving up 2 passing touchdowns per game and they only picked off two passes on the season. I like those odds, and I think this is one New York can steal. I would start Eli if all other options from our list are already off the table.