Fantasy Draft Strategy - Follow this QB streaming plan to win your league
Updated: Aug 17, 2018
In the days of yesteryear, fantasy football managers would draft a QB early and often with the hopes of fantasy glory. In today's fantasy world, the smart and savvy owners are taking advantage of the positional depth at QB and are waiting to draft QBs until the later rounds and start them only when they have favorable matchups. In this post, I am going to outline why streaming a QB is the best strategy and how you can plan things out to perfection. If you have the gusto to follow this strategy it very well could be you who is hoisting the hardware at the end of the season. So without further adieu, follow me....follow me to freedom!!!!
First, have a look at the following stat line and see if you can guess which QBs are represented here:
Think about that and the answer will be revealed soon....oh the suspense!
According to FantasyPros ADP (we are going to use this source a lot) the top QB names are going in rounds 3-6 (Rodgers, Watson, Wilson, Brady, Brees, Wentz). The next signal callers to go off the board will be in round 7 (Cousins, Garoppolo, Luck) followed by Stafford in round 8. Round 9 is where the inevitable QB run should start with Goff, Luck, Roethlisberger, Ryan, and Rivers falling off the board.
It would stand to reason that during these rounds (3-9) you will have the most to gain zigging when everyone is zagging and piling up RBs, WRs, and a TE.
So, who are some of the guys you can add to your team in rounds 3-9?
According to FantasyPros ADP, here are a few exciting players you will be able to target in this range:
Round 3 - Joe Mixon, Tyreek Hill, Adam Theilen, Stefon Diggs, Derrick Henry, T.Y. Hilton, Kenyan Drake
Round 4 - Amari Cooper, Derrius Guice, Josh Gordon, Larry Fitzgerald, Jay Ajayi, Alex Collins, JuJu Smith-Schuster, Rashaad Penny, Brandon Cooks
Round 5 - Allen Robinson, Jimmy Graham, Mark Ingram, Golden Tate, Jarvis Landry, Marvin Jones, Evan Engram, Ronald Jones II, Sony Michel
Round 6 - Greg Olsen, Dion Lewis, Royce Freeman, Kyle Rudolph, Michael Crabtree, Marshawn Lynch, Chris Hogan, Corey Davis
Round 7 - Sammy Watkins, Will Fuller, Robert Woods, Marlon Mack, Julian Edelman, Carlos Hyde, Tarik Cohen, Pierre Garcon, Trey Burton
Round 8 - Rex Burkhead, Jordy Nelson, Emmanuel Sanders, Jamison Crowder, Cooper Kupp, Kerryon Johnson, Aaron Jones, Marquise Goodwin, Robby Anderson/Quincy Enunwa
Round 9 - DeVante Parker, Nick Chubb, Duke Johnson, Nelson Agholor, Kenny Stills, Randall Cobb, Chris Carson, Kenny Stills, Calvin Ridley, Jacksonville DEF, Chris Thompson, George Kittle, Rams Defense, Minnesota Defense, D.J. Moore, Allen Hurns, Kelvin Benjamin, Jack Doyle, Mike Williams, LeGarrette Blount, Theo Riddick, Jordan Wilkins, Eric Ebron., Mohammad Sanu, Frank Gore
*Round 9 lists players going in that round plus some guys who can be had later on. If you see someone you like there is no harm jumping up now to snag them
To see visually a comparison of where each QB is being taken compared to skill position players, take a peek at this:
Again, arranged in order of FantasyPros ADP, here are some of the quarterbacks who can be had after round 9.
So who were the two QBs I mentioned above you ask? Well, perhaps you guessed it....this is a trick question....muahahhahaha!
It's a little shocking, right? Considering Cam Newton was last years #2 overall QB in fantasy. Realistically, it would not have been possible to start every QB vs the Browns last year. However, here is a breakdown of the fantasy point totals for QBs that were either on the waiver wire or available after round 9 last year and their corresponding fantasy point totals vs. the Browns defense.
I'm picking on Cleveland, but this year they are slated to be a much, much better defense by making some big moves in free agency and taking Denzel Ward with the fourth overall pick in this years NFL draft. Profootballfocus awarded Ward a college player grade of 91.4 and he allowed just 35.1 percent of passes thrown his way to be caught, one of the best marks in the nation.
The Browns also traded for Damarious Randall, who played cornerback in Green Bay, but will move to free safety, his college position, with the Browns. That should free up Jabrill Peppers to move to a more natural position closer to the line of scrimmage where he will be more effective. Here is a look at how their free agent additions graded out.
So, if you are thinking of picking on the Browns defense again this year, you may want to re-think that logic considering they will now sport three strong corners and will have Jabrill Peppers causing havoc for opposing quarterbacks. Oh ya, they will have a healthy and returning Myles Garrett (2017 1st overall pick) to crush opposing QBs and pressuring them to throw INTs. They look much better on paper, but they are still the Browns so who knows?
The following strategy is not for the faint of heart and requires you to trust in the methodology of strong quarterback fantasy performances against weak defenses. To further convince you of this point, take a look at this chart.
Coming into the year, most people knew that Cleveland, Indy, and the Jets were going to be sporting miserable defensive units. At the end of the year each team averaged 19+ points per game against yielded to opposing signal callers.
If you still are not convinced, Round 9 is where I see the most value this year for quarterbacks with the likes of Ben Roethlisberger, Jared Goff, Matt Ryan, and Philip Rivers being drafted in this round.
All of these guys have a good chance to finish the season as a top 12 QB and if you do not see the value at WR/RB/TE at this spot in the draft it may be wise to snag one before the draft rolls on to the next tier of QBs. Just make sure whichever you choose has some good matchups early on as winning early in fantasy is important to make it to the playoffs.
If you would like to roll the dice and take an unproven, high-upside player such as Calvin Ridley, D.J. Moore, Nick Chubb or DeVante Parker (yes, he is still unproven) or perhaps an elite defense like Jacksonville or Minnesota, then I encourage you to read on....
After the 9th round passes, aim to pick two quarterbacks with your next 2-4 picks in rounds 10-13. The idea is to get two guys who are pretty good and are primed to start the season hot due to a slate of favorable matchups. By taking this approach, you are more likely to get consistent, solid production out of your QB every week and will not feel trapped into starting someone like Drew Brees vs. Minnesota or Kirk Cousins vs Jacksonville.
When looking at which quarterbacks will make for strong streaming options early in the season, we need to look at which defenses and secondaries are projected to be the worst in the league this year. Again, we turn to our friends at Profootballfocus for their pre-season rankings:
Indianapolis Colts - 29th ranked run defense, 32nd ranked secondary
Miami Dolphins - 32nd ranked run defense, 26th ranked secondary
Kansas City Chiefs - 31st ranked run defense, 28th ranked secondary
Carolina Panthers - 19th ranked run defense, 29th ranked secondary
Seattle Seahawks - 24th ranked run defense, 21st ranked secondary
Strange to see the former "Legion of Boom" and tenacious Panthers defense on this list, however times they are a'changin' and these teams will likely be bottom dwelling defenses this year. Luke Kuechly can't do everything right?
Now that we have this information, let's look to the schedules to see who these defenses are playing early on so we can find some quality streaming options for weeks 1-8. Here are a few that stand out:
Ind – week 1 vs Cin, week 2 vs Wash, week 8 vs Oak
Mia - week 1 vs Ten, week 3 vs Oak, week 5 vs Cin
KC – week 1 vs LAC, week 5 vs Jax, week 7 vs Cin
Sea – week 1 vs Den, week 3 vs Dal, week 6 vs Oak
Car – week 1 vs Dal, week 3 vs Cin, week 6 vs Wash
Looking at these match-ups, what jumps out to me most is Cincinnati showing up four times!! For this reason, Andy Dalton could be a perfect target for us. I also see Oakland listed three times meaning Derek Carr could be our other guy. This time last year, Carr was the 6th QB being taken in drafts according to 2017 ADP and is now working with Jon Gruden and a revamped receiving core making his current ADP of 140.7 or QB 19 seems like highway robbery. Also, don't forget that Carr was voted as the #11 player on NFL top 100 from 2017 ahead of guys like David Johnson, Aaron Donald, and Drew Brees.
Alex Smith is also likely to go undrafted or extremely late despite finishing last year as the QB #4 in fantasy. No one likes tying up roster spots, however Dalton and Carr have poor matchups week 2 and Smith draws the lowly Colts defense at home. If you can stomach holding three QBs through the first two weeks you could reap the benefits and then kick him to the curb.
With Derek Carr and Andy Dalton in mind as our two QBs to begin the year (plus maybe Smith for two weeks) here is our weekly season long QB streaming plan:
Week 1 - Andy Dalton vs Ind
Week 2 - Alex Smith vs Ind
Week 3 - Derek Carr vs Mia
Week 4 - Derek Carr vs Cle / Case Keenum vs KC
Week 5 - Andy Dalton vs Mia
Week 6 - Derek Carr vs Sea
Week 7 - Andy Dalton vs KC
Week 8 - Derek Carr vs Ind
Week 9 - Derek Carr vs 49ers
(Dalton bye week - cut for Blake Bortles)
Week 10 - Blake Bortles vs Ind
Week 11 - Marcus Mariota vs Ind*
Week 12 - Blake Bortles vs Buf / Tannehill vs Ind
Week 13 - Derek Carr vs KC / Blake Bortles vs Ind
Week 14 - Derek Carr vs Pit / Blake Bortles vs Ten / Baker Mayfield vs Car / Lamar Jackson vs KC**
Week 15 - Dak Prescott vs Ind***
Week 16 - Blake Bortles vs Mia / Eli Manning vs Ind
*Week 11 has Carr vs Cin and Bortles vs Wash - not great matchups. Consider rostering Mariota for a week if possible to smack Indy again. Sweet, sweet Indy. How we will love your misery.
**Week 14 is the first week of the playoffs and no fantastic matchups jump out for streamers. By this point, Baker Mayfield and Lamar Jackson should be starting and offer pretty good matchups though. Perhaps one of the rookie QBs will have shown enough by this point to throw in your lineup.
***Week 15 - If you made it this far you will be one game away from glory and if Dak is on waivers, make the move to add him for this matchup. You may even want to add him in week 13 or make a trade for him in week 11 since Bortles will be starting from weeks 12-14. Don't feel tied to Bortles because he has been crushing it against a bunch of squids the past few weeks. Blakey boy will be back next week to bring home the trophy!
Now you may be saying to yourself right about now "what are you a numb-skull? Are you seriously telling me to roll with a combination of Andy Dalton, Derek Carr, and Blake Bortles?" And the answer is yes. Yes, I am. In fact, I did this last year and rode Mr. Bortles to eternal fantasy glory by taking home the championship trophy in one league. You may not have realized it, but here are Bortles fantasy performances the last five weeks of the season when he had many favorable matchups:
If you decide to use this strategy you will have the luxury of loading up at running back, wide receiver, tight end, and possibly defense before needing to draft your quarterback. You can take chances on guys in the middle rounds that have high-upside and the potential to win you your league. When it comes to fantasy glory, the faint of heart are rarely rewarded with the brass at the end of the season.
Remember kid. Heroes get remembered, but legends never die......write that down.