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.
These are not strict Start/Sit recommendations. This article is meant to give you players who are widely available and are looking better than usual this week. Also, ownership percentages are from Yahoo leagues.
Players To Consider Benching This Week:
Tough matchup: Baker Mayfield (@ LAC, 15.0 FPG allowed this year), Jalen Hurts (@ CAR, 17.3 FPG allowed this year)
Top Streaming Options:
Sam Darnold (CAR) (VS. PHI, 38%)
QB Leaders in Rushing FPG — Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) October 4, 2021
1. Lamar Jackson (10.0)
2. Sam Darnold (8.8)
3. Daniel Jones (7.7)
4. Kyler Murray (7.2)
5. Jalen Hurts (7.2)
6. Taysom Hill (7.4)
7. Tyrod Taylor (5.8)
Sam Darnold is averaging 23.7 FPG (5th-most), not far off his Gase-adjusted expectation pic.twitter.com/bGqlYDE0Cn
Darnold is the QB5, and has thrown for 300 or more yards in three of his four games this season. Not to mention he’s scored 5 TDs on the ground, and while that obviously won’t continue, it’s turned him into one of the stronger rushing QBs through the first quarter of the season. Personally, I’m expecting Darnold to regress slightly, but a high-end QB2 season is absolutely possible given what he’s shown so far.
Regardless, how surprised can we really be by this Darnold resurgence? OC Joe Brady did an outstanding job calling plays in 2020. Despite earning his 3rd-worst career PFF passing grade, Teddy Bridgewater earned career-high marks in passing yards (3733), completion percentage (69.1%), yards per attempt (7.6), and FPG (16.1), finishing the year as QB22 (in FPG) largely thanks to what Joe Brady did as OC. This is the best offense Darnold has played for, and it’s really not close. Darnold’s a great streaming option again in Week 5, and a viable long-term stash for those in need of permanent QB depth.
Daniel Jones (NYG) (@ DAL, 31%)
Jones is currently QB6 on the season, but is still available in 69% of Yahoo leagues. Everything seems to be coming together for Jones, who is currently PFF’s 2nd-highest graded passer (88.0 passing grade) and he ranks third among all QBs in rushing FPG (7.7). He leads all QBs in air yards (722), showcasing his aggression in attacking deep down the field. Week 5 draws a matchup against a Cowboys defense that’s allowed the 4th-most FPG (25.5) to opposing QBs, in the 2nd-highest total game (51.5) of Week 5. Jones is throwing the ball as well as he ever has, he’s on pace for career marks rushing the ball, and he’s facing the Cowboys in one of the top matchups of the week. He’s the top QB streamer in Week 5.
Trey Lance (SF) (@ ARI, 31%)
Jimmy Garoppolo "has a chance" to play for #49ers Sunday at Arizona.— Cam Inman (@CamInman) October 4, 2021
Shanahan: "It wasn’t as bad as we thought it might have been. Today he’s in a lot of pain and still sore. Wednesday if it’s getter better, he has a good chance."
If Trey Lance starts in absence of Jimmy Garoppolo this Sunday, look out, because Lance will be far and away the most popular QB play of the week.
Lance crucially offers the best rushing upside of any QB in the 2021 class, and consequently, some of the best fantasy upside of any QB in the NFL, if he’s a Week 5 starter. During his lone season as the starter at NDSU, he earned an insane 5.16 yards after contact per attempt and forced 40 missed tackles on just 134 rush attempts. Playing for the coach who orchestrated Robert Griffin III’s illustrious rookie campaign and averaging 13.3 rushing FPG in college translate to Lance’s Konami Code upside being off the charts.
And what did we see in Week 4? Lance only played a half, but still managed to score 20.4 fantasy points, and finished as QB13 on the week. He also rushed 7 times for 41 yards. All that fantasy success came with HC Kyle Shanahan noting that “the gameplan wasn’t built for him” as the 49ers weren’t aware that Jimmy G couldn’t play until right before the 2nd half started.
Now imagine what Lance and this offense could do when they know he’s the starter, with a full week of practice under their belts? Yeah, Trey Lance is a fantastic streaming option this week.
Taylor Heinicke (WAS) (VS. NO, 10%)
Heinicke is the QB16 on a per game basis, and I’m starting to think it’s time we accept him as a solid mid-tier fantasy QB. In his three full games, Heinicke has scored no fewer than 20.0 fantasy points. He’s also shown a solid rushing floor, averaging 4.3 rushing FPG per game, which shouldn’t come as a surprise given Heinicke’s solid athletic profile. Washington draws a tougher matchup against a Saints defense that’s allowed only 16.6 FPG to opposing QBs, but it’s likely they will be playing from behind as 2.5-point underdogs, so Heinicke should still have the opportunity to air the ball out. Heinicke is on the more volatile side of streaming options this week, but he should absolutely be more than 10% owned just based on how he’s played in his first three starts.
Players To Consider Benching This Week:
In danger of missing: Logan Thomas (Hamstring), Rob Gronkowski (Ribs), Tyler Higbee (Ankle)
Top Streaming Options:
Dawson Knox (BUF) (@ KC, 48%)
Knox is the TE6 so far, having caught 15 of his 20 targets for 144 yards and a position-leading 4 TDs. He ranks 15th among TEs in route share (66.1%) and 17th in target share (12.0%). Crucially, Knox has seen great usage near the goal line, as he’s earned a position-leading 9 targets inside the red zone, and three inside the end zone. For Week 5, Knox and this Bills offense draw a dream fantasy matchup against a Chiefs defense that’s allowed the 2nd-most points per game (31.2) to opposing offenses and the 8th-most FPG (10.2) to opposing TEs. Long term, I’m still viewing Know as a mid-range TE2 due to his route and target share numbers, but for Week 5, he’s a low-end TE1 in the best scoring environment of the week.
Dalton Schultz (DAL) (VS. NYG, 35%)
Schultz has been the TE4 through four weeks, and ranks in the top-10 among TEs in receiving yards (201), targets (23), and TDs (3). Despite the presence of Blake Jarwin, Schultz has run a route on 62.4% of Dak Prescott’s dropbacks, and has been his clear No. 3 target with Michael Gallup out, posting an impressive 16.5% target share. Gallup’s eventual return to the Cowboys lineup harms Schultz’s season-long upside, but with Gallup out again in Week 5, Schultz is an ideal streaming target in a matchup with the Giants. New York has allowed the 4th-most FPG to opposing TEs (10.9) and this game has a total of 52.0 - the 2nd-highest total of Week 5. Getting the opportunity to play the No. 3 pass catcher on one of the league's top offenses in a great matchup isn’t one I plan on passing up. Queue up Schultz as one of the week’s top streaming options.
Ricky Seals-Jones (WAS) (VS. NO, 0%)
Deeper league owners rejoice, Ricky Seals-Jones is available in nearly every league on earth and may be headed towards a full-time role this week with Logan Thomas questionable with a hamstring injury. After Thomas left Washington’s Week 4 game against Atlanta in the 1st quarter, Seals-Jones finished 2nd on the team in routes (31), 3rd in targets (4), and lined up in the slot or out wide on 74.4% of his routes. That’s a very fantasy-friendly workload.
Prior to Week 4, Logan Thomas ranked 1st among all TEs in route share (93.2%), and 9th in target share (15.4%) while averaging 11.9 FPG (TE6). Now imagine he was a slightly worse player, and available in every league. That’s Ricky Seals-Jones in Week 5. Expect RSJ to be a very popular waiver addition if Thomas misses time.