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:
Tough matchup: Matthew Stafford (AT ARI, 16.3 FPG allowed)
Top Streaming Options:
Taysom Hill (NO) (AT NYJ, 34%)
Hill is currently dealing with mallet finger on his throwing hand, but is expected to attempt to play through it and likely start at QB for the Saints in Week 14.
Assuming Hill does start, he’s easily the top streaming candidate of the week. In his 5 starts over the last 2 seasons, he’s averaged 21.0 FPG — a mark that would tie with Matthew Stafford for QB7 this season. And he’s scored at least 17.5 fantasy points in each individual start, so he offers a stellar floor on the back of the 11.0 rushing FPG he’s averaged in starts. 11.0 rushing FPG, if sustained for a full season, would make for the most productive rushing season by any QB since 1975, just barely beating 2019 Lamar Jackson, who averaged 10.8 rushing FPG.
Even if Hill’s passing ability is hampered by his finger injury, he still offers a strong enough rushing floor to warrant being considered a high-end QB2. And if there was ever a game the Saints would go run heavy, it would be this week as 5.5-point favorites against the Jets.
We can confidently stream Hill this week, but be sure to keep an eye on injury news, just in case he can’t go.
Taylor Heinicke (WAS) (VS. DAL, 38%)
Heinicke is averaging 16.9 FPG in his starts this season, which ties Derek Carr for QB13 on the season. Granted, he’s been far less consistent than Taysom Hill, averaging 11.4 FPG in his 5 worst games, but 21.4 FPG in his other 6 games. So, he’s effectively a mid- to high-end QB1 in half his games, and a QB3 in the other half. So, typically, I’m targeting Heinicke as a streamer on teams that are projected to be underdogs in their matchup that week, as those are the teams that typically need to take on more risk to keep their matchups competitive.
With that said, I do think Week 14 sets up more as one of Heinicke’s boom weeks, given he’s playing in the 4th-highest total game of the week (48.0) and the Football Team are 4.0-point favorites, so this is a strong scoring environment where Heinicke will likely be forced to throw.
I like Heinicke as a high-end QB2 this week, albeit a risky one.
Cam Newton (CAR) (VS. ATL, 29%)
Newton was a complete disaster in Week 12, completing just 24% of his passes and throwing 2 interceptions on his way to 6.2 fantasy points. But, we can’t forget he scored 26.2 fantasy points the week prior, so he still offers strong upside.
Thankfully for Cam, he draws one of the best possible matchup for opposing QBs: Atlanta. The Falcons have allowed the 2nd-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing QBs this season (+2.9), and are tied for the most rushing FPG (4.9) allowed to opposing QBs.
The Panthers are also 3.0-point favorites, and over the last 4 seasons, Newton has averaged 19.6 FPG in games where his team is favored (20 instances), compared to 17.3 FPG as an underdog (13 instances). 19.6 FPG, if extrapolated out for the full season, would make Newton the QB11, just ahead of Dak Prescott and just behind Kirk Cousins.
So, this is clearly a favorable spot for Newton, but his dud performance last week suggests he carries at least as much, if not more downside risk, than Taylor Heinicke.
Players To Consider Benching This Week:
Tough matchup: T.J. Hockenson (AT DEN, 8.6 FPG allowed)
Top Streaming Options:
Tyler Conklin (MIN) (VS. PIT, 30%)
Among TEs this season, Conklin ranks 9th (tie) in targets (64), 10th in receiving yards (469), 12th (tie) in red zone targets (15), 3rd (tie) in end zone targets (7), and 15th in FPG (9.3). Despite this, he’s the 19th-highest owned TE on Yahoo fantasy, which at this point makes little sense.
And for Week 14, Conklin may be headed towards a modest boost in targets with Adam Thielen (ankle) unlikely to play. Thielen leaves behind 7.7 targets per game, and while most of those will likely go to Justin Jefferson and K.J. Osborn, Thielen’s departure in Week 13 did usher in Conklin’s best target output of the season (9). Plus, Conklin sees outstanding red zone and end zone usage, and Thielen ranked top-15 among WRs in both red zone and end zone targets, so even if Conklin only sees a minute target boost from Thielen’s absence in Week 14, it’s likely the additional targets will be close to, or in, the end zone.
Pittsburgh is on the tougher end of matchups for opposing TEs, allowing the 11th-fewest FPG (10.6) this season. Even so, Conklin was a high-end TE2 before Thielen’s injury, and assuming Thielen misses Week 14, can be considered a low-end TE1 despite the suboptimal matchup.
Cole Kmet (CHI) (AT GB, 26%)
Over his last 4 games, Kmet has averaged 7.0 targets per game, 51.3 yards per game, and 9.7 FPG. Over the full season, those numbers would rank 4th-, 5th-, and 14th-best among TEs. A big part of the reason Kmet’s FPG is lagging behind his overall receiving workload is his complete lack of usage in the end zone. Kmet has just 2 end zone targets on the year, half as many as Jimmy Graham, and that’s led to Kmet being unable to find the end zone all season, despite 61 total targets — the 10th-most among TEs.
Still, Kmet’s consistent receiving role (at least 6 targets in 5 of his last 6 games) makes him a mid- to high-end TE2 for the remainder of the season, despite the poor TD equity.
His Week 14 matchup with Green Bay is a fairly neutral one, given they’ve allowed the 13th-most schedule-adjusted FPG (+0.7) to opposing TEs this season. Far more important, the Bears are 12.5-point underdogs — the largest spread of Week 14. So if there was a team that would be forced to pass this week, it’s Chicago. And Kmet figures to benefit given he’s earned an 18% target share in Bears’ last 3 contests.
Austin Hooper (CLE) (VS. BAL, 21%)
David Njoku was recently placed on the reserve/COVID-19 list and is questionable to play in Week 14. Should Njoku miss, that opens the door to Austin Hooper being considered a mid- to high-end TE2 this week.
So far this season, Njoku has averaged 3.3 targets per game, 0.4 end zone targets per game, 17.4 routes per game, and 7.2 FPG. If we prescribe just half of Njoku’s workload to Hooper, then Hooper is looking at approximately 5.4 targets per game, 0.45 end zone targets per game, 27.6 routes per game, and 9.3 FPG. Those numbers would rank 11th-, 15th-, 14th-, and 15th-best among TEs. And in my opinion, that’s on the more conservative side of estimates.
This is also a favorable matchup, with Baltimore allowing the 6th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing TEs (+2.8) this season.
Assuming Njoku sits, Hooper is a strong streaming candidate in deeper leagues that may not have access to players like Conklin or Kmet on the waiver wire.