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:
Top Streaming Options:
Taysom Hill (NO) (VS. CAR, 42%)
Hill is currently on the COVID list, and was inactive Monday night, but does have a good chance to play in Week 17.
It’s tough to consider Hill any less than a QB1 for as long as he’s the starter in New Orleans. In his 7 career starts at QB, Hill averages 21.0 FPG.
21.0 FPG, if extrapolated out for the full season, would rank 9th among all QBs, just behind Lamar Jackson and just ahead of Matthew Stafford and Dak Prescott.
And Hill’s floor is basically unmatched. He’s averaging 11.1 rushing FPG in his 7 career starts, which, if sustained for an entire season, would rank as the greatest fantasy QB rushing season of all-time, ahead of 2019 Lamar Jackson (10.8 rushing FPG).
Any fantasy team that’s still competing in the playoffs and doesn’t have a top-8 QB needs to consider Hill as a potential streaming option this week, if he’s available and activated off the COVID list. His Week 17 matchup with Carolina is on the tougher end, as they’ve allowed the 4th-fewest FPG to opposing QBs this season (16.0). But, the Saints are 7.0-point favorites, so we can still anticipate that they take a run-heavy approach, which surely benefits Hill. He’s the top streaming option of Week 17 by a significant margin.
Justin Fields (CHI) (VS. NYG, 23%)
Fields is questionable to play in Week 17, so be sure to keep an eye on the injury report before plugging him in. But if he does play, he’s the clear No. 2 streaming option at QB to Taysom Hill in a week largely devoid of waiver wire fantasy talent.
In his last 4 full games, Fields has averaged 20.7 FPG – a mark that would tie with Matthew Stafford for QB9 this season. Similar to Taysom Hill, that success is mostly the result of a stellar rushing floor, as Fields has averaged 7.9 rushing FPG over that 4 game stretch. 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 when streaming QBs, especially this late in the season with so little talent remaining on the waiver wire, rushing production needs to be a significant consideration as it helps secure a QB’s floor and often prevents the worst-case scenario of a single-digit fantasy score.
Assuming Fields starts, he’s a high-end QB2 in a largely neutral matchup with NYG this week.
Tua Tagovailoa (MIA) (AT TEN, 41%)
Tua is a rather bland QB relative to the other run-heavy QBs we have discussed in this piece, but he warrants mention as he’s a surefire starter this week, unlike every other quarterback we’ve discussed.
In his full games this season, Tua has averaged 17.8 FPG, which would rank 13th among all QBs over the full season. So, he’s a high-end QB2 week-to-week, pending his matchup.
And for Week 17, the matchup appears favorable with Tennessee giving up the 6th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing QBs (+1.6).
I’m viewing Tua as the “safe” streaming option at QB this week, relative to what else is available. He doesn’t offer the rushing floor that Hill, Fields, or Lance does, but he hasn’t scored less than 11.0 fantasy points in a start this season and is a lock to start at QB this week, which we can’t say about those other 3 QBs. So, for those who want to minimize risk when streaming this week, Tagovailoa is your best bet until we get confirmation that these other QBs are actually starting.
Trey Lance (SF) (VS. HOU, 12%)
Sources: #49ers QB Jimmy Garoppolo suffered a chipped bone and torn ligament in his right thumb. His status is in doubt for this weekend, but he’s going to try to gut it out, somehow. He’ll be reevaluated on Wednesday.— Ian Rapoport (@RapSheet) December 27, 2021
Lance has played more than 50% of the snaps in just two games this season, but in those games, he’s averaged 18.0 FPG. Should Jimmy G be unavailable for Week 17, then Lance would need to be considered a mid- to high-end QB2 ahead of the 49ers matchup with Houston.
Similar to some of the QBs already discussed, Lance offers an outstanding rushing floor, averaging 6.5 rushing FPG on the back of 11.5 carries per game. Even among RBs, 11.5 rushing attempts per game would be more than Miles Sanders, Jamaal Williams, Chase Edmonds, and Devonta Freeman have averaged this season. So Lance will get no shortage of chances to do damage with his legs if he gets the start, especially given the 49ers are 12.0-point favorites, setting up an obviously run-heavy gamescript for SF.
The matchup is somewhat favorable overall, as Houston has allowed the 11th-most schedule-adjusted FPG to opposing QBs this season (+0.9).
With how much Lance has struggled as a passer, I think it’s somewhat fair to question the overall ceiling of this play. But the floor is undeniable, and if Lance starts, he’s certainly a worthwhile streaming option in deeper or SuperFlex leagues.
Players To Consider Benching This Week:
In danger of missing: Darren Waller (Knee)
Tough matchup: Kyle Pitts (AT BUF, 8.3 FPG allowed)
Top Streaming Options:
Pat Freiermuth (PIT) (VS. CLE, 52%)
Coach Tomlin said Pat Freiermuth (concussion), Kevin Dotson (ankle), Kendrick Green and Trai Turner all have a chance to get back this week including some guys on the Covid-19 List with the extra day before MNF.— Missi Matthews (@missi_matthews) December 28, 2021
Should Freiermuth (concussion) suit up in Week 17, then he’s clearly the top streaming option of the week.
Since Week 6, Freiermuth has averaged 11.8 FPG, which ranks just ahead of Kyle Pitts and just behind Dawson Knox over the full season for TE9. And over that stretch, he also ranks 12th among TEs in targets per game (5.7), tied for 1st with 0.7 TDs per game, 4th in total red zone targets (15, tie), and 5th in end zone targets (5, tie).
So, barring a brutal matchup, Freiermuth needs to be considered a low-end TE1 in every game he plays going forward. And for Week 17, the Browns rank as a perfectly neutral matchup for opposing TEs (+0.0 schedule-adjusted FPG), meaning Freiermuth is a top-12 TE if he’s active.
Cole Kmet (CHI) (VS NYG, 31%)
Kmet has been the definition of a high-end TE2 down the stretch, averaging 9.3 FPG over his last 7 games. Over the full season, 9.3 FPG would rank 16th among all TEs.
More importantly, Kmet has clearly emerged as the Bears No. 2 pass catcher over that stretch, ranking 2nd on the team in targets (41, 19 more than the next closest player), routes (197), yards (293), and red zone targets (10).
For Sunday, Kmet is slated to see a neutral matchup facing the Giants, but this game does offer an incredibly low total of 37.5, so the obvious knock on Kmet would be the brutal scoring environment. Still, he’s seen at least 5 targets in every game since Week 12, and consistency like that can be tough to find on the waiver wire.
Gerald Everett (SEA) (VS. DET, 43%)
Everett has eclipsed at least 10.0 fantasy points and caught at least 4 passes in four of his last five games, averaging 10.6 FPG over that stretch.
He’s demonstrated a brutal floor, scoring under 1.5 fantasy points on 3 occasions this season. That’s likely the product of being the No. 3 pass game option on a team that’s attempted the 3rd-fewest passes this season, but Everett’s solid red zone role keeps him in the streaming conversation. Since Week 11, Everett is tied with Travis Kelce for 12th among TEs in red zone targets (7), and tied for 15th in end zone targets (2). And among Seattle players, Everett actually only has 4 less total targets (28) over that stretch than Tyler Lockett (32).
His Week 17 opponent, the Detroit Lions, have been especially vulnerable to opposing TEs over the last 5 weeks, allowing +5.7 schedule-adjusted FPG (3rd-most). So I think it’s fair to say this matchup is a plus for Everett. But, I’m not a huge fan of the play overall given just how low Everett’s floor is. He’s a decent bet to get you 10.0 or more fantasy points (7 games), or less than 2.0 (3 games), with seemingly little room in between. So, I’m considering him a risky streaming option that’s really only attractive in deeper leagues, albeit an option with solid upside for a mid-range TE2.