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: Lamar Jackson (Ankle)
Tough matchup: Derek Carr (VS. DEN, 16.0 FPG allowed)
Top Streaming Options:
Justin Fields (CHI) (AT SEA, 26%)
In his last 4 full games, Fields has averaged 20.7 FPG – a mark that would rank just behind Lamar Jackson and just ahead of Kirk Cousins for 10th among all QBs over the full season. And he’s clearly improved with experience, as his 73.3 PFF passing grade over that stretch is a marked improvement on the 48.8 passing grade he posted in his first 6 games with more than 10 pass attempts.
But what really makes Fields stand out as a fantasy option is his legs. He’s averaged 7.9 rushing FPG over his last 4 starts, which would rank behind only Jalen Hurts and Cam Newton for 3rd among all QBs this season. Impressively, since 1975, 7.9 rushing FPG would actually rank 13th among all QBs. So if Fields’ rushing production can remain consistent, he would have to be considered one of the best running QBs (for fantasy purposes) of the last 46 seasons.
And, especially when streaming QBs, rushing production is one of the most important considerations as it helps secure a QBs floor. And by targeting QBs with strong rushing production, we can likely avoid the worst-case scenario of a single-digit fantasy score when we need a replacement at the position.
In a neutral matchup with Seattle, Fields is the top streaming option of the week.
Carson Wentz (IND) (AT ARI, 50%)
Wentz hasn’t exactly been the model of fantasy consistency this year, and that’s primarily due to the Colts oftentimes taking a run-heavy approach. And with Jonathan Taylor averaging 5.6 YPC, can we really blame them?
His Week 16 matchup with Arizona is a tough one on paper – the Cardinals are giving up the 5th-fewest FPG (16.6) to opposing QBs this season. But, there are still a few reasons to view Wentz as an attractive streaming option this week.
The primary one is the game environment. This game’s total of 49.5 isn’t only the highest of the week, it’s the most by 4.0-points. So far this season, Wentz has played in just 4 games with a total over 49.0, but in those games, he’s averaged 17.8 FPG, and that includes his matchup with Buffalo when he attempted just 20 passes as Jonathan Taylor went off for 5 TDs.
Should this be a high-volume passing outing for Wentz (which I’d say is more likely than not), then he can easily be considered a high-end QB2 or better, as he’s averaged 17.9 FPG in the 10 games he’s attempted more than 25 passes. Over the full season, 17.9 FPG would be good for QB13.
With that said, the obvious risk here is Jonathan Taylor being all Indy needs to win this game. Taylor and Wentz are negatively correlated (-0.05), so a strong performance from the NFL’s leading rusher would likely lower Wentz’s expectation. Still, it’s hard to argue with Wentz as a high-end QB2 this week in an outstanding game environment that may force him to throw.
Tua Tagovailoa (MIA) (AT NO, 46%)
Unlike Carson Wentz, Tua has been incredibly consistent in the games he’s started and finished this season. He’s averaging 18.7 FPG in those games (good for 12th among QBs), but impressively, he’s never fallen below 13.2 fantasy points in any individual contest.
For Week 16, he faces a Saints’ defense that has given up the 9th-most FPG (19.2) to opposing QBs this season, and the 9th-most schedule-adjusted FPG (+1.1) over their last 5 games.
So Tua can safely be considered a high-end QB2 this week, right? I’d like to say so, if it weren’t for this game's egregiously low total of 39.0 – the lowest of Week 16. In his 4 games this season with a total of 44.0 or lower, Tua has averaged just 16.0 FPG, which would rank 22nd among QBs over the full season.
So, I think we need to consider Tua as closer to a mid-end QB2 this week due to the brutal scoring environment, but he does offer a higher floor than Wentz, who has fallen below Tua’s season-low of 13.2 fantasy points on 5 occasions this season.
Players To Consider Benching This Week:
In danger of missing: Darren Waller (Knee), Travis Kelce (COVID)
Top Streaming Options:
Cole Kmet (CHI) (AT SEA, 25%)
Kmet has seen at least 5 targets in every game but one since Week 6. And over that span, he’s averaged 8.8 FPG, which over the full season, would rank 17th among all TEs. Justin Fields’ improvement as a passer has been a big part of why Kmet has transitioned into a truly viable TE2, as his 73.3 PFF passing grade over his last 4 games is a significant improvement on the 48.8 passing grade he posted in his first 6 games with more than 10 pass attempts.
But arguably more important than Fields’ development as a passer, at least for Week 16, is Kmet’s matchup with the Seahawks. Seattle is giving up +5.2 schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing TEs (2nd-most), and they’ve been even worse as of late, allowing +9.9 schedule-adjusted FPG over their last 5 games (most, tied). Using our schedule adjustment, we could project Kmet from somewhere between 14.0 and 18.7 fantasy points this week, presuming his usual workload. That may be a generous estimate, but I don’t think it’s unreasonable to consider Kmet a low-end TE1 in this elite matchup with Justin Fields playing significantly better.
Tyler Conklin (MIN) (VS. LAR, 47%)
Conklin has struggled as of late, falling under 4.0 fantasy points in each of his last 2 games. But even with the recent slump, Conklin is still the TE18 on the year, averaging 8.4 FPG. It was certainly disappointing to see Conklin’s role and volume remain static without Adam Thielen in the lineup for Minnesota these past 2 weeks, but Conklin is still a viable streamer in Week 16.
Why? Well, the Vikings are 7.0-point underdogs to LA this week, and that suggests a high likelihood of a pass heavy game script for Minnesota. Kirk Cousins has thrown more than 35 passes in 8 games this season, and in those games, Conklin averages 11.2 FPG, which would rank just ahead of Kyle Pitts for TE9 over the full season. And this is at least a somewhat favorable matchup, as the Rams are allowing +1.2 schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing TEs (11th-most). I like Conklin as a high-end TE2 this week, but it’s worth noting his recent poor performances likely translate to him having more downside risk than a player like Cole Kmet.
Jared Cook (LAC) (AT HOU, 55%)
Cook has seen at least 4 targets and scored at least 5.8 fantasy points in each of his last 5 games. Is that particularly impressive? No, of course not. But it does represent solid consistency, which is certainly something the lower-bounds of the TE position as a whole, lacks.
For Week 16, Cook draws a relatively generous matchup, as the Texans are giving up +3.6 schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing TEs (4th-most). And Donald Parham (concussion) is leaving behind 1.9 targets and 4.2 fantasy points per game. If we prescribe just half of Parham’s FPG to Cook’s season-long average of 7.9 FPG, then we get a much more respectable 10.0 FPG – which would rank 14th among all TEs over the full season.
Given Cook hasn’t scored more than 12.5 fantasy points in a game since Week 4, I certainly question the upside of this play. But I don’t think we can question Cook’s target floor, especially with Parham now out of the lineup, which is arguably a more important factor when we need a fill-in at TE.