You’re not playing fantasy football right if you’re not streaming in any of your leagues. In case you’re unfamiliar with the term, streaming is the act of rotating starters at a position and playing someone off the waiver wire based on a favorable matchup.
I’m almost always streaming defenses in all my leagues during the season so I highly encourage you to check out Justin Varnes’ weekly streaming defenses piece. I’m also not afraid to stream at the typical one-starter skill positions like quarterback and tight end given how much parity there often is at the bottom-half of both positions. Every week, I’ll take a look at some lesser-owned QBs and TEs you might want to start based on a matchup, increased opportunities, and/or other factors that might boost their value in a given week. I’ll also highlight some typical weekly starters that you might want to shy away from because of a tougher matchup, an injury, and/or playing time issues.
Players To Consider Benching This Week:
In danger of missing: Kyler Murray (Ankle)
Tough matchup: Carson Wentz (AT BUF, 12.4 FPG allowed)
Top Streaming Options:
Cam Newton (CAR) (VS. WAS, 17%)
He’s baaaaack! Newton’s Carolina comeback went about as well as possible in Week 10, as he rushed for 1 TD and threw for another on just 9 total snaps. And he’s expected to be the full-time starting QB from Week 11 onward. Just how good will the 32-year-old QB be in his return to Carolina? I’m not exactly sure, but I think a reasonable expectation is similar to what he did in 2020 with New England, when he averaged 17.4 FPG. 17.4 FPG would tie with Russell Wilson for the QB14 this season, and would make Cam not just a viable streaming candidate this week, but a reasonable starting fantasy QB for the remainder of the season, especially in deeper leagues.
When it comes to Week 11, we really couldn’t ask for a better matchup for Newton. Washington is giving up 25.7 FPG to opposing QBs, which isn’t just the worst in the league, it’s the worst in the league by more than 15% (3.4 FPG). They also rank worst in schedule-adjusted FPG allowed to opposing QBs (+5.5), which is 71% worse than the next closest team. And they rank bottom-5 in PFF coverage grades (41.4). This defense is a disaster, and basically any competent NFL QB is having their best fantasy outing of the season against them. Fire up Newton as a high-end QB2 this week.
Justin Fields (CHI) (VS BAL, 25%)
Just when we were ready to give up on Fields, he pulls us back in. In Weeks 8 and 9 Fields averaged 21.7 FPG, in part thanks to his Konami code upside, recording 10.4 rushing FPG in that stretch. Can Fields be confidently relied on in fantasy football now? Maybe, but it’s, at the very least, hard to be confident given that Fields was on pace to have the 2nd-worst fantasy QB season of the last 20 years from Weeks 1 through 5. Still, if Fields has ‘figured it out’ then he could be considered a high-end QB2 going forward, which isn’t just enough to make him a solid streaming candidate, it may be enough to make Fields a worthy fantasy starter in 12+ team leagues. But we are dealing with just two games of usable play from Fields, so keep in mind that’s just speculative at this point.
For Week 11, I like Fields as a high-risk, high-reward streaming candidate — essentially the polar opposite of fellow rookie QB Mac Jones. The risk comes mainly from Baltimore’s aggressive style of defense - they have 53 pressures when rushing 6 or more defenders — good for 6th in the NFL. Justin Fields himself has struggled mightily under pressure, recording the 4th-worst PFF passing grade when blitzed (56.1). With that said, Baltimore does rank middle of the pack in the other important QB defense metrics, and if Fields can avoid crumbling under pressure, his chances at another compelling fantasy performance are fairly high, especially when you consider that he is already one of the most talented rushing QBs in the NFL.
So here’s how I’m approaching the situation: If you need upside because your opponent’s team is far better than your own, go with Justin Fields. But if you are just trying to secure a win against a clearly inferior opponent, go with Mac Jones (discussed below). And if you are stuck deciding between the two, I give a slight lean to Fields given his rushing ability but just remember the risk of a 4.0-point fantasy outing is significantly higher compared to Jones.
Both QBs are viable this week, but it’s important to use your best judgement to determine who is optimal given your team’s circumstances.
Mac Jones (NE) (AT ATL, 29%)
Mac Jones, QB, Patriots (per @PFF)— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) November 15, 2021
+ Highest-graded QB since Week 5 (91.2)
+ Highest-graded rookie QB since 2014 (87.0)
+ Earned a 95.8 PFF Grade in 2020, the highest they've ever awarded to a QB since they started grading NCAA players in 2014
Jones has been playing outstanding football over the last 6 weeks. While that’s translated to great PFF grades, it hasn’t exactly turned into outstanding fantasy production, as Jones has averaged just 14.3 FPG since Week 5, good for the QB23 over that stretch. Low-end QB2 production isn’t something I love to chase after when streaming, but Jones' outstanding play should pave the way to a potentially more pass heavy approach from New England going forward, and arguably more important, the Pats are facing a rather dysfunctional Atlanta defense in Week 11.
The Falcons have given up the 4th-most FPG to opposing QBs (21.2), rank dead last in PFF pass rush grades (56.4), and rank 5th-worst in PFF coverage grades (47.6). With the only somewhat competent part of the Atlanta defense being their ability to stuff the run, I’m expecting New England to take full advantage of the Falcons through the air. While I don’t consider Jones to have a compelling ceiling (career high 22.2 fantasy points), this matchup absolutely lifts him into the mid-range QB2 conversation, and that makes him a viable streaming candidate in 12+ team leagues. If you just need a QB fill-in who won’t ruin your week, Jones fits that bill as a low-risk, relatively low-reward option.
Players To Consider Benching This Week:
Top Streaming Options:
Dan Arnold (JAX) (VS SF, 27%)
Arnold is a low-end TE1. That’s right, over the last 5 weeks, Arnold ranks 10th among TEs in FPG (10.7), 6th in targets per game (7.4), and 6th in yards per game (57.2). Plus, he hasn’t even scored yet, so he’s managed to be a TE1 without finding the end zone. At this point, it’s safe to say Arnold should be owned in every league with 12 or more teams, yet somehow he’s available in nearly three quarters of Yahoo leagues and I’m writing him up for the 3rd week in a row because, well, that ownership is just ridiculous.
The matchup with San Francisco is a bit of a negative, given they’ve allowed the 13th-fewest schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing TEs this season (-1.3). But, it’s hard to ding Arnold for that, given he leads the Jags with 37 targets since Week 5, good for a 19.7% target share. A 19.7% target share ties with Kyle Pitts for 5th among TEs this season, and if Arnold can maintain that for the rest of the year, there’s no way he doesn’t finish the season as a top-12 TE, even if he never scores a TD. So, yea, Arnold is far and away the top streaming TE option of Week 11, and I’d consider hanging onto him for the remainder of the season if your roster is absent a top-5 TE.
Tyler Conklin (MIN) (VS. GB, 30%)
Conklin is the TE13 on the year, averaging 9.8 FPG. He has seen remarkably consistent volume, recording at least 4 targets in 8 of his 9 games, and over the last month, he’s scored at least 9.5 fantasy points in every game. His 15.1% target share ranks 13th among TEs this year, and he can be safely viewed as a high-end TE2 for the remainder of the 2021 season.
Week 11 ushers in a matchup with Green Bay, who have allowed the 9th-highest target share to opposing TEs this season (23.8%). More importantly, this game’s total is hovering around 49.0, making it one of the better scoring environments of Week 11. Conklin’s ceiling isn’t exactly earth shattering (we saw a likely ceiling performance last week and he scored just 16.1 fantasy points) but his secure target floor makes him a valuable fantasy streamer for those in need of a Week 11 fill-in.
Logan Thomas (WAS) (AT CAR, 54%)
Thomas is expected to return from IR in Week 11, and that makes him an intriguing waiver add given he’s become widely available in Yahoo leagues while on injured reserve. In the 3 games he played to start the season, Thomas averaged 11.2 FPG. Over the full season, that would make him the TE9 over the full season, just behind Kyle Pitts and just ahead of Mike Gesicki.
In his Underrated Upside series, Scott Barrett noted that 2021 Logan Thomas could be 2020 Darren Waller, and Washington TEs coach Pete Hoener said he was the team’s most reliable offensive player last year and called him a top-5 TE in the NFL. Thomas’ stint on IR has derailed that potential for the last few months, but assuming he returns in Week 11, Thomas could absolutely be a top-10 TE for the remainder of the season, or maybe even better. The bottom line is if Thomas is playing, he simply shouldn’t be the 18th highest-owned TE on Yahoo.
Given the uncertainty over how Thomas will look in his first game back from injury, I’m viewing him as a mid-range TE2 in a tougher matchup with a Carolina defense that’s been the 11th-toughest for opposing TEs (-1.2 schedule-adjusted FPG). But, in terms of a longer term outlook, I’d put Thomas right up there with Dan Arnold as a player you should consider hanging onto for the remainder of the season, if you don’t already have a top-5 TE.