Fantasy Football Streaming
Hunker down, brave fantasy football players. The bye-pocalypse is upon us. Never before has mankind needed The Primal Stream and its weekly breakdown of streaming options at quarterback, tight end, and defense, like it does this day.
Week 9 brings with it a deranged satchel filled with six teams on a bye, removing multiple starters from the playing field. Andrew Luck, Carson Wentz, and Andy Dalton are the top quarterback starters to go missing. Zach Ertz, Eric Ebron, Jack Doyle, and Evan Engram disappear to make the tight end position a truly horrifying one to behold. The absence of the Cardinals, Jaguars, Colts, and Eagles D/STs means that if you’re not streaming a D/ST this week, you’re not trying.
It may also mean that you have two D/STs on your bench. This is something that should (almost) never happen.
Week 9 Byes:
- Arizona Cardinals
- Cincinnati Bengals
- Indianapolis Colts
- Jacksonville Jaguars
- New York Giants
- Philadelphia Eagles
Streaming Fantasy Quarterbacks
Dak Prescott – 29.9% Owned
Titans at Cowboys
Dak Prescott makes his first appearance of the season here in the Primal Stream, and not solely as result of the Cowboys’ trade-deadline acquisition of Amari Cooper. Prescott currently ranks 23rd among all quarterbacks in total fantasy points with 112.3, but he’s finished as a top ten fantasy quarterback in his last two games (QB2 in Week 6, and QB8 in Week 7). Not coincidentally, he also rushed for a touchdown in each of those games.
The Cowboys return from their Week 8 bye to welcome the Titans to Dallas, and it’s no easy matchup. The Titans have allowed the seventh-fewest total passing yards at 1,585, as well the second-fewest passing touchdowns with 9. They excel in coverage, with PFF’s tenth-ranked 76.8 coverage grade, but own the 17th-ranked rushing defense grade at 76.4, as well as the 18th-ranked pass rushing grade at 66.1. They’ve already faced two of the top five rushing quarterbacks in Blake Bortles and Deshaun Watson, allowing 44 rushing yards to Watson and 27 to Bortles. Prescott and his 236 rushing yards rank fourth, and his rushing upside here raises his fantasy floor.
Amari Cooper’s presence at wide receiver can only help Prescott’s cause, and it should mean Allen Hurns and Michael Gallup see less extra attention defensively. It should also make it more difficult for the Titans to stack the box against the Cowboys’ running game (which Prescott is a part of). Prescott has a Week 10 divisional matchup with the Eagles looming, so he’s more of a one-week stream.
Baker Mayfield – 38.1% Owned
Chiefs at Browns
In the unlikely event that you hadn’t heard, the Cleveland Browns fired head coach Hue Jackson along with offensive coordinator Todd Haley this week. This creates some uncertainty in regard to how the playcalling under new head coach Greg Williams and offensive coordinator Greg Kitchens will unfold, but Mayfield certainly has some talent among his surrounding cast that would be well-served by a fresh game plan (Duke Johnson and David Njoku in particular). Mayfield is 27th in quarterback fantasy points for the season, with the caveat that he didn’t start until Week 3. He was fantasy’s QB19 in Week 8 against a strong Steelers defense, and his Week 9 matchup is far more inviting.
The Browns take on the Chiefs this week in Cleveland, and while Kansas City has shown defensive improvement of late, they’re still one of the softer matchups in the league. The Chiefs have allowed 2,438 passing yards, 31st of the 32 NFL teams, along with 13 passing touchdowns. Per PFF, their 63.8 coverage grade ranks 24th, and while their 80.2 pass rushing grade is third, the Browns boast an 85.0 pass blocking grade that ranks fourth in the league. Kansas City has allowed 20.8 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, seventh-most.
The Chiefs’ offense hasn’t skipped a beat, scoring 36.3 points per game, a pace that leads the NFL. Cleveland should be pressured to keep pace, which should, in turn, lead to a passing-heavy game script that favors Mayfield. I’ve said it before, but I’ll say it again: Mayfield continues to have an extremely quarterback-friendly schedule ahead of him, facing the Falcons in Week 10, and the Bengals in Week 12 after a Week 11 bye. He should continue to be a useful streamer moving forward if a breakout performance doesn’t push him past 45% ownership.
Streaming Fantasy Tight Ends
Ed Dickson – 4.4% Owned
Chargers at Seahawks
Ed Dickson is back, people! He returned with aplomb, scoring a touchdown along with 54 yards receiving in Week 8, posting 13.4 fantasy points that made him the TE8. Nick Vannett had been the Seahawks’ snap leader at tight end through Week 7, playing 63% of the team’s offensive snaps, though he missed Weeks 6 and 7 with a back injury. Vannett lined up for 31 of Seattle’s 63 offensive snaps to Dickson’s 20 snaps, but Dickson managed 54 yards and a touchdown on only two targets, while Vannett finished with a single catch for 16 yards on his three targets. It would be a surprise not to see Dickson take over the snap lead in Week 9 based on his performance in his first game back.
The Seahawks face the Los Angeles Chargers in Seattle in Week 9, which is a somewhat tight-end-neutral matchup, as the Chargers are allowing 11.5 points per game to tight ends, 14th-fewest. They’ve allowed an average of 45.3 yards per game to the position, but they have been susceptible to it in the red zone lately, allowing tight end touchdowns in three of their past four games.
The Chargers own PFF’s fourth-ranked offense overall with an 84.4 grade, and they’re averaging 27.9 points scored per game, the eighth-most among all teams. While the Seahawks are the most run-heavy team in the NFL, and the Chargers have PFF’s second-worst run defense grade at 63.6, Seattle’s game script is likely to move toward the passing mean a bit due to the need to keep pace with the Chargers’ scoring. Dickson isn’t likely to be a short-term keeper in light of a Week 10 matchup with the Rams, but Seattle has multiple tight-end-friendly matchups going forward that could make him a useful streamer.
Ben Watson – 41.8% Owned
Rams at Saints
Streaming Fantasy Defenses
Starting Ben Watson was nothing short of a fantasy disaster in Week 8, as he posted zero points on zero targets while lining up for only 26% of his team’s snaps. For comparison’s sake, Watson hadn’t dipped below 49% of New Orleans’ offensive snaps in the previous seven weeks. I detailed Watson as a streaming option last week, and I don’t regret it. I started him in two of my own redraft leagues, so I felt the burn. It’s important to remember that the unexpected can and will occur regularly in fantasy football, and it’s essential to try to separate outlier performances from an established role at the position.
The Saints ran the ball on 55% of their snaps in Week 8, compared to a 43% rate for the season, which led Josh Hill (who is primarily a blocking tight end) to a 62% snap share for the week. This is an event that’s unlikely to repeat against the Rams, who’ve allowed the 11th-fewest points per game to running backs on the season. The Rams are the definition of an average matchup for tight ends, allowing 12 fantasy points per game to the position, 16th out of 32 teams.
The Rams bring their powerhouse offensive to New Orleans, scoring 33 points per game on average, the third-most in the league. This game projects to be a shootout, with an implied point total of 59.5 at MyBookie.com, the highest total for the week, which of course should only bode well for the Saints’ passing attack. Watson also has a Week 10 matchup with the Bengals, who are allowing 17.7 fantasy points per game to tight ends, tied for second-most, so he could end up being a two-week rental.
Cowboys D/ST – 44.1% Owned
Titans at Cowboys
The Cowboys D/ST continues to score predictably, with performances predicated on sack totals and limiting yardage totals. It’s currently the 18th-ranked fantasy defense for the season, after posting disappointing point totals in 3 of the past 4 games. Despite coming off of a Week 8 bye, the Cowboys still allow only 313.7 total yards per game, third fewest, and boast 23 total sacks, tied for third-most.
The Cowboys face the Titans in Week 9, who have passed for just 1,211 yards on the season, the second-lowest total, while completing only 5 total passing touchdowns, also second-worst. Including their rushing offense, the Titans are scoring an average of 15.1 points per game, and only the Cardinals and Bills are putting fewer points per game up on the NFL scoreboard.
The Cowboys didn’t allow an opponent to surpass 19 points scored in the three weeks prior to their bye, while also keeping any opposing quarterbacks from scoring more than one touchdown. With difficult matchups with the Eagles in Week 10 and the Falcons in Week 11, this unit is a start-and-depart option for Week 9.
Jets D/ST – 28.9% Owned
Jets at Dolphins
The Jets have faced a string of three straight excellent offenses entering Week 9, having matched up against the Colts, Vikings, and Bears in their three most recent games. Their defense sits at ninth overall in fantasy scoring, and they’ve relied primarily on generating turnovers to buoy their weekly point totals. Their 15 total takeaways between interceptions and fumble recoveries rank sixth among 32 teams, while their sack total of 17 is among the bottom-ten totals in the NFL.
The Jets face the Dolphins with quarterback Brock Osweiler in Week 9, and it’s a matchup they should be able to exploit. The Dolphins have amassed 2,674 total yards on the season, the 11th-fewest. They’ve thrown eight interceptions to go along with five fumbles lost, for 13 total turnovers that are tied for fifth-most. Miami has gifted opposing defenses with an average of 7.8 fantasy points per game, and only six teams have a higher per-game average.
The Dolphins have a 67.0 pass blocking grade per PFF, which ranks 25th, which is good news for the Jets’ 21st-ranked pass rushing grade of 64.6. The Jets blitz at a higher rate than 27 other NFL teams, and via PFF, Brock Osweiler’s 48.8 completion percentage under pressure ranks 20th among all quarterbacks with at least 75 dropbacks. The Jets are lucky enough to face the Buffalo Bills in Week 10, who are averaging 10.9 points per week, the lowest in the NFL. They should be a hold for another useful stream in Week 10.
Thanks or Reading
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.