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:
None of note.
Top Streaming Options:
Derek Carr (LV) (@ LAC, 53%)
Carr has quietly been one of the best QBs of the 2021 fantasy season, at least so far. He’s averaging 23.9 FPG — good for QB9 on the year — and he leads the league with 1203 passing yards, putting him on pace to throw for a completely insane 6,817 yards this season. Do I think Carr will shatter the season-long passing record by 1,340 yards? No, I do not. But, I do think Carr has a much better chance than we perceived in the offseason to finish as a fantasy QB1. He’s undoubtedly the top QB streaming option of Week 4 because, well, he can almost certainly help your team after Week 4.
And speaking of Week 4, Carr plays in the third-highest game total (53.5) of the week, so he’ll have one of the best scoring environments of any QB. Those in need of QB help this week should turn to Carr as their best bet.
Sam Darnold (CAR) (@ DAL, 22%)
Darnold, incredibly, is the QB12 overall, averaging 21.1 FPG — a drastic 8.2 FPG improvement from his time with the Jets. Ahead of names like Justin Herbert, Dak Prescott, and Aaron Rodgers. Will Darnold finish the season as a better fantasy QB than those players? No, probably not, but he could absolutely be mid- to high-end QB2 this year, and that’s certainly valuable — especially when he’s available in 78% of leagues.
And 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.
And now Darnold faces a Cowboys defense that’s given up 22.8 FPG to opposing QBs this season, in a game with a 50.5 total. That’s a recipe for his fantasy success to continue.
Taylor Heinicke (WAS) (@ ATL, 6%)
Heinicke is the QB19, averaging 17.0 FPG while filling in for the injured Ryan Fitzpatrick. In the two games Heinicke has started, he’s averaged 20.2 FPG — good for QB13 on the year. While the verdict is still out on if Heinicke can be a viable starting QB in the NFL long-term, he’s at the very least short-term viable in fantasy, especially with a Week 4 matchup against Atlanta, who’s allowed 24.9 FPG to opposing QBs (4th-most). And let’s not forget that Heinicke is actually a really good athlete, and scored 8.1 rushing fantasy points this past Sunday. That further secures his floor, reducing the innate risk that usually comes with these low-owned streaming options. QB needy teams in deep leagues should absolutely be targeting Heinicke and his team’s solid 24.75 team-implied total against Atlanta.
Players To Consider Benching This Week:
Tough matchup: Robert Tonyan (VS. PIT, 9.1 FPG allowed last year)
Top Streaming Options:
Mike Gesicki (MIA) (VS. IND, 56%)
WR/TE Mike Gesicki quietly back to solid usage last couple weeks. With Brissett yesterday:— Adam Levitan (@adamlevitan) September 27, 2021
* 55-of-83 snaps
* 44 routes run on 62 dropbacks
* Slot 39 times, wide 12, inline 4
* 12 targets for a 24% share
Gesicki ranks 6th in routes (95), 4th in targets (21), and has been split out as a WR a stunning 96% of the time, far and away the best mark among all TEs. He’s essentially a WR at this point, which is awesome for fantasy football. Gesicki’s Week 4 matchup against Indianapolis neutral-at-worst, but the bottom line is that a TE running as many routes and seeing as many targets as Gesicki is, from WR alignments no less, should be owned in almost any league with 10 or more teams.
Evan Engram (NYG) (@ NO, 39%)
Engram ran a route on 71% of Daniel Jones’ Week 3 dropbacks, seeing 4 targets and catching 2 for 21 yards in his first game of the season. Crucially, both Darius Slayton and Sterling Shepard suffered injuries Sunday, and if they miss Week 4, Engram will have the inside track to becoming New York’s No. 2 pass catcher.
Absent both Shepard and Slayton, I still wouldn’t expect much excitement around Engram, as many in the fantasy community have written him off as being ‘dust’ after a down year in 2020 that saw him average 8.9 FPG. FantasyPoints’ own injury expert Edwin Porras warned us last year, “Lisfranc injuries reduce NFL offensive players’ on-field production by an average of 21% in the first season following surgery. This production seemed to level off after the second year and returned to baseline.” Engram’s 2019 baseline was 13.7 FPG — a mark that made him the TE7 by FPG. If we assume Engram will land somewhere between his 2020 output (TE20 by FPG) and his 2019 output (TE7), with the potential for added usage should the Giants be missing Shepard and Slayton, then he profiles as a high upside TE waiver addition with a worst-case scenario of a mid- to low-end TE2 outcome.
Tyler Conklin (MIN) (VS. CLE, 4%)
Conklin ranks 15th in TE target share (13.7%), 7th in receptions (13), 5th in red zone targets (4), and 9th in FPG (10.5). And yet, he’s only owned in 4% of leagues. Minnesota has finished between 13th and 18th in each of the last three years in TE fantasy points per game, demonstrating a strong floor for their TE rooms but a middling ceiling. It’s not flashy, but it’s consistent usage, and Conklin seems to be the only TE in the building the Vikings have any confidence in, as Chris Herndon has run just 20 routes and seen just 2 targets. Conklin’s an ideal target for TE needy teams in 14+ team leagues.