Fantasy Football Streaming
The Primal Stream is back again, bringing you streaming options at QB, TE, and D/ST. With four more byes this week, the pool of available players stays a bit shallower than usual, and at the midpoint of the season, opponent matchups are becoming more and more stable to forecast.
If you’ve been relying on the Ravens or Browns D/STs as a plug-and-play option, a quick look at their remaining schedules reveals the two of the most difficult slates of opposing offenses in the league. I would look to trade either for depth at the skill positions, as you’ll be ideally be streaming defenses going forward.
Matt Ryan, Dak Prescott, Philip Rivers, and Marcus Mariota are the quarterback bye casualties this week. Tight end remains an awfully shallow position overall, though the byes only remove Austin Hooper from the top 24 fantasy scorers. The Titans and Chargers D/STs are the only missing defenses that are owned in more than 40% of ESPN leagues.
Week 8 Byes:
- Atlanta Falcons
- Dallas Cowboys
- Los Angeles Chargers
- Tennessee Titans
Streaming Fantasy Quarterbacks
Joe Flacco – 34.0% Owned
Ravens at Panthers
We may never have a definitive answer on whether Joe Flacco is elite, but if you’re asking whether he’s my top quarterback to stream this week, the answer is yes. He was a recommended stream here last week as well, and after scoring an 11th-best 19.6 fantasy points in Week 7, he’s moved from 18th to 15th overall in fantasy points among quarterbacks for the season. With Baltimore’s most difficult defensive matchups behind them, Flacco should see clear skies ahead.
Week 8 presents the Ravens with a trip to North Carolina to take on the Panthers, which is not the challenging defensive matchup it was as recently as 2016. Carolina currently owns Pro Football Focus’ 10th-worst pass rush grade and 10th worst coverage grade. They are allowing 17.9 points on average to quarterbacks, tied for 14th-most among the 32 teams, and they’ve allowed 11 touchdowns through the air, which is about average. For his part, Flacco’s only thrown 4 interceptions through seven games, while just seven quarterbacks have thrown fewer.
The Panthers have been averaging 23.7 points scored per game, 18th out of 32 teams. While they likely won’t light up the scoreboard against the Ravens defense, they should score enough to keep the game competitive, which in turn should discourage the Ravens from relying too heavily on the running game. The Panther’s 84.3 PFF run defense grade ranks them 13th, so it’s a defensive strength that the Ravens would seem unlikely to attack heavily. As I mentioned in last week’s column, Flacco has the easiest remaining schedule among all quarterbacks, with a matchup next week against the Steelers, who are allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game to quarterbacks.
Case Keenum – 12.1% Owned
Broncos at Chiefs
Case Keenum appeared in the top-ten in a number of offensive metrics in 2017 with Minnesota, including number four in adjusted completion percentage and number four in accuracy percentage under pressure, as tracked by PFF. This may have been a result of an excellent supporting cast elevating the signal-caller, as he’s been unable to replicate those numbers in Denver. Keenum ranks 22nd in fantasy points scored among quarterbacks, and he was QB24 in Week 7 against a strong Cardinals pass defense.
All that being said, Keenum threw for over 300 yards along with two touchdowns in both Week 5 and Week 6 before last week’s tilt against Arizona, making him the fantasy QB13 over the last three weeks. He faces the Kansas City Chiefs for the second time this week, who are allowing 21.5 fantasy points per week to opposing quarterbacks, sixth-most. They’ve given up 2,192 passing yards, second-most, and 15 passing touchdowns, sixth-most.
Keenum failed to put together a streamable start in his Week 4 matchup with the Chiefs, but that was a Chiefs defense that had the services of edge rusher Justin Houston, who seems likely to miss a third straight game on Sunday. Keenum should have opportunities to take advantage of the Chief’s 26th-ranked PFF coverage grade. Keenum is unlikely to be your best streaming option in Week 9 against the Texans, but he should stay on your radar after Week 8 with some inviting matchups going forward.
Streaming Fantasy Tight Ends
Benjamin Watson – 37.5% Owned
Saints at Vikings
In the post-apocalyptic wasteland that is the 2018 tight end position, Benjamin Watson’s 52 total fantasy points rank 14th. He’s coming off of his best performance of the season, a 16.3 fantasy point effort that was fifth-best for the week.
Per PFF, Watson has been targeted on 20.0% of his snaps for the entire season, a rate that’s tied for seventh among tight ends, while his 135 total routes run is 22nd. Looking only at Watson’s past two games reveals an encouraging trend; in that timeframe, he’s been targeted on 34.5% of his routes, the highest percentage among tight ends with at least 10 targets, while his 29 routes run remains static at 22nd.
Watson faces a Vikings defense that has allowed 107.4 fantasy points to tight ends, seventh-most, and 504 total receiving yards to the position, fourth-most. Part of Watson’s increased looks could be his reliable hands, as he’s yet to drop a ball on 27 targets. He could also be a useful hold after a stream this week, as he faces tight-end-friendly defenses in the Rams and Bengals in Weeks 9 and 10.
Chris Herndon – 2.0% Owned
Jets at Bears
If I’m being completely honest, Chris Herndon hasn’t been an exciting fantasy tight end to own. 23rd in total fantasy points among tight ends, he spent the first five weeks of his rookie season running 75 total routes, while only being targeted on seven of them, per PFF.
Things have changed lately. In Weeks 6 and 7, Herndon ran only 19 total routes, but he’s been targeted on an eye-opening 47.4% of them, the highest target percentage among tight ends with five-plus targets. He’s scored a touchdown in each of the past two weeks, and with Quincy Enunwa slated to miss the game, possibly along with Robby Anderson, he could be relied upon with even more frequency.
The Bears present a difficult matchup for tight ends, allowing the ninth-fewest 66.7 fantasy points to the position. They’ve allowed only 1,575 total receiving yards, 10th-fewest, but they have allowed 14 receiving touchdowns, tied for sixth-most. They’ve also struggled somewhat since their Week 5 bye, allowing 31 points to the Dolphins in Week 6, and 38 points to the Patriots last week. The Jets have some less-than-exciting upcoming tight end matchups, so Herndon isn’t a recommended hold.
Streaming Fantasy Defenses
Cardinals D/ST – 45.1% Owned
49ers at Cardinals
I’ve chosen to focus only on D/STs that are under 45% owned in ESPN leagues, and dag nab it, I’m stickin’ to that. This is just a public service announcement to go check if Arizona’s D/ST is available in your league, and pick them up and stream them in Week 8 if they are. If not, nothing to see here, carry on reading.
Redskins D/ST – 27.9% Owned
Redskins at Giants
The Washington Redskins D/ST has scored 46 fantasy points through six games, and are actually tied for eighth among fantasy defenses, despite the fact that they’ve already had a bye. They’re coming off of a 15 point game against the Cowboys that was tied for the fourth-best fantasy score among all defenses in Week 7.
The Redskins haven’t relied on sack production heavily for their defensive scoring, as their 14 total sacks are tied for the sixth-fewest, nor have they relied on interceptions, with a total of four that ranks them tied for fourth-fewest. Where they have come up big is in forcing and recovering fumbles. Only one team has forced more than their 7 fumbles, and they’ve forced at least one in every game outside of Week 2’s matchup with the Colts. They’ve also been stingy with yards allowed, as their 1,954 combined yards allowed is the lowest among all defenses.
For their part, the Giants have been giving up the eighth-most fantasy points to opposing defenses. Manning has kept his interceptions to a minimum, but he’s taken 24 sacks through Week 7, and only four quarterbacks have been sacked more frequently. The Giants offense has fumbled the ball five times, tied for the third-most, and they’re the sixth-lowest scoring offense, averaging just 19.6 points scored per game.
Steelers D/ST – 24.0% Owned
Browns at Steelers
It may be a case of out-of-sight, out-of-mind with the Steelers’ defense coming off of its Week 7 bye, but 24% ownership is surprisingly low for this unit. They sit tied with the Cardinals at 12th in total fantasy points despite not playing last week, and they’re just two weeks removed from an excellent 17 point fantasy performance against a Falcons offense that leads the league in passing yardage.
The Steelers defense relies heavily on sacking the quarterback to score fantasy points, as their 22 total sacks are bested by only the Ravens with 24. Nine of those sacks have come in the past two games alone. They have only eight total takeaways (four interceptions and four fumbles forced), but have scored two touchdowns on turnovers. They do average the tenth-most passing yards allowed per game at 380.2, but they’ve been strong against the run, with the 11th-fewest rushing yards per game allowed at 97.8.
They match up particularly well with Cleveland’s offensive strengths and deficiencies. The Browns have given up 52 total points to opposing D/STs, ninth-most. They’ve turned the ball over ten times, and while they’ve rushed for 945 yards (fourth-most), they’ve passed for only 1,557 yards (twelfth-fewest). The Steelers face quite a few powerful offenses moving forward, so they are likely a one-week stream, but they do have a few useful matchups remaining.
I’m just a guy who was born in Massachusetts and went to college in Minnesota (Macalester College) and moved to New York and then went to grad school in San Francisco (The American Conservatory Theater) before moving back to New York and finally to Los Angeles. I began playing fantasy football in a single league in 2001, which quickly grew into multiple leagues, and has continued into just about every form that fantasy football takes today (no developmental leagues yet). My strong opinions are loosely held, always trying to get better.