Streaming quarterbacks or just waiting until late in drafts to draft them has become the en vogue advice from Fantasy Football analysts. But just like any Fantasy Football theory, there will always be a time to zag when everyone zigs. Is that time now? Let's dig in as we look toward our 2020 Fantasy Football Streaming Quarterbacks.
I have long been a proponent of not spending draft capital on quarterbacks. There are real drafts that I will wait until the last pick of the draft to take my first signal-caller. You could always get a Matthew Stafford, Philip Rivers, or Ryan Fitzpatrick late that brought you the same floor of production as guys taken half a draft earlier.
Then most seasons in most leagues I am streaming. I always try to find a 2-3 game stretch where a guy has some solid matchups. However, last season this strategy was the biggest flaw in my teams that underperformed.
Every off-season I look back at each of my season-long Fantasy Football teams to see what went right and what went wrong. (I highly advise taking the time to do this BEFORE your draft prep starts, it can seriously alter your preparation in a good way.) The most common denominator for failing teams last season was a severe lack of quarterback production. So this got me thinking if I need to step away from streaming quarterbacks.
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First, we have to reiterate how remarkably consistent quarterback ADP was last season. 12 of the top 13 scorers at the position were drafted, on average, within the first 17 quarterbacks.
I use these somewhat random numbers because after the first eight quarterbacks the next nine were higher or lower depending on the platform. For example, Lamar Jackson was the 14th quarterback by overall ADP, but he was the ninth taken on FFC. Dak Prescott was 17th on average, but ninth at ESPN.
I would guess that these 17 were taken in the majority of all leagues. I mean, I know Lamar Jackson and Dak Prescott were not on the waiver wire post-draft in any one of my 20+ season-long leagues last year. Most home leagues probably had at least 20 quarterbacks taken in their drafts.
Of the five quarterbacks taken within the first 17 at the position last year that did not finish within the top 13 at the end of the year, two were aging veterans on the verge of retirement that got hurt (Drew Brees and Ben Roethlisberger). Another somewhat bust was Cam Newton, who probably could have come back sooner but the Panthers wanted to move on from him anyway.
The only true bust was Baker Mayfield. However, I know that he (along with the entire Browns’ team) was propped up by public perception, especially by a certain over-superlative Fantasy analyst. (The other quarterback was Philip Rivers who was drafted as QB15 and finished as QB16).
So long story short, the only QB1 in 12-team leagues that could have been found on even some waiver wires was Josh Allen (ADP: 21st, finished sixth in scoring at the position).
Who Were the Streaming Quarterbacks Options?
For us to see how well-streaming quarterbacks really worked in 2019, we need to identify who was available in most leagues to pick up and stream.
Obviously the twelve quarterbacks mentioned that finished in the Top 13 at the position weren’t readily available. I doubt Josh Allen was available after Week 2. I would also bet that if you are a streamer (me included) you dropped him thinking he could not keep it going.
If Drew Brees’ owner dropped him during his injury then you were one of the lucky few. Matthew Stafford was owned in the majority of leagues as well before his injury.
The Baker Mayfield truthers probably held on to him the whole season. Even if he was available, there was really only one week in which you would have thought about streaming him and it worked so we can include him in this group.
The two tough ones to pigeon-hole are Daniel Jones and Ryan Tannehill. Jones had four elite weeks and then a whole bunch of garbage. One of his elite weeks was his first week as a starter. After dropping almost 35 points in his first start, I’m finding it hard to believe he was widely available after that.
Tannehill was one of the weirdest situations in recent memory. I honestly can’t remember a veteran taking over mid-season with no injury and turning into a Fantasy star. In ten starts he was Top-6 in five of them and a QB1 in 12-team leagues in seven starts.
As a streamer, I did not think about him in the first few weeks. Maybe you did, but he didn’t really fit the streaming strategy. I would guess a more quarterback-safe owner picked him up and held on in most leagues.
While that seems like a lot of names, it really is only 15-16 players at a time that were healthy and starting. I would say that there are that many quarterbacks owned in 99% of 12-team leagues.
The Quarterback Streaming Options
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What does that leave left to pick up and stream? Honestly: not a whole lot.
The group mentioned as being already owned on rosters accounted for 40 of the 48 Top-3 weeks by quarterbacks. They were responsible for 76 of the 96 Top-6 weeks. Also, they produced 110 of the 160 Top-10 quarterback weeks. Needless to say, those numbers are already working against the streamer.
Was it possible to navigate these treacherous circumstances and cobble together respectable quarterback production? Let’s take a look, week by week.
Now I know that in extreme circumstances 6-team league guy will say that he streamed all year and scored as much as Lamar Jackson. I am trying to only use the most widely available players that were seen as good options each week.
2020 Fantasy Football Streaming Quarterbacks
I pulled out the best three options for each week of the season. I used the ownership percentages along with the matchup as well as the streak of performances they were on. Obviously this is still objective, but picking a streaming quarterback is objective each week in itself.
Most quarterback streamers will go for a solid veteran with a decent matchup in Week 1. You can swing for the fences with a rookie or first-time starter, however, there were just not any widely available last year.
- Philip Rivers vs. Indianapolis – QB9, 23.92 Fantasy Points
- Kirk Cousins vs. Atlanta – QB22, 14.32 Fantasy Points
- Jimmy Garoppolo at Tampa Bay – QB26, 10.44 Fantasy Points
Other Possible Options: I can’t imagine who would have wanted to hitch their week on Case Keenum and the terrible skill position players. I would say the same for Marcus Mariota and the unknown (at that point) receivers in Tennessee. Andy Dalton in Seattle did not seem too appetizing either.
- Jimmy Garoppolo at Cincinnati – QB6, 22.64 Fantasy Points
- Marcus Mariota vs. Indianapolis – QB20, 13.36 Fantasy Points
- Philip Rivers at Detroit – QB25, 10.92 Fantasy Points
Other Possible Options: The way the Bears looked early on I would be surprised if someone went with Joe Flacco here. Gardner Minshew was still a complete wild card and even if you picked him up I doubt you started him.
Top Possible Fantasy Points Per Game: 23.28
Average Fantasy Points Per Game: 13.84
- Mitch Trubisky at Washington – QB12, 19.44 Fantasy Points
- Teddy Bridgewater at Seattle – QB20, 16.28 Fantasy Points
- Joe Flacco at Green Bay – QB31, 6.02 Fantasy Points
Other Possible Options: I’m leaving Rivers off against J.J. Watt and the Texans as he was also coming off a terrible game. Jacoby Brissett and Gardner Minshew might have been your options but they were both right in this same range of scoring.
Top Possible Fantasy Points Per Game: 22.00
Average Fantasy Points Per Game: 14.65
- Jacoby Brissett vs. Oakland – QB5, 22.5 Fantasy Points
- Philip Rivers at Miami – QB9, 20.4 Fantasy Points
- Teddy Bridgewater vs. Dallas – QB25, 7.52 Fantasy Points
Other Possible Options: I refuse to think people were starting Joe Flacco after his previous outing. Marcus Mariota had his last good game, but there were already rumors of him getting benched so he was too risky.
Top Possible Fantasy Points Per Game: 22.13
Average Fantasy Points Per Game: 16.09
- Andy Dalton vs. Arizona – QB10, 18.98 Fantasy Points
- Jacoby Brissett at Kansas City – QB19, 10.94 Fantasy Points
- Philip Rivers vs. Denver - QB27, 4.14 Fantasy Points
Other Possible Options: At this point, I think Minshew was owned in most leagues and not available, same with Kirk Cousins. Maybe you went with Jimmy G vs. Cleveland, but he still was just QB16.
Top Possible Fantasy Points Per Game: 21.50
Average Fantasy Points Per Game: 15.06
- Kyle Allen at Tampa Bay – QB14, 17.38 Fantasy Points
- Case Keenum at Miami – QB17, 15.64 Fantasy Points
- Teddy Bridgewater at Jacksonville – QB19, 13.6 Fantasy Points
Other Possible Options: If you rolled with Sam Darnold against a Dallas defense that was killing it then you don’t need to be reading this article. Outside of that, no other possible streamer scored even 15 Fantasy Points.
Top Possible Fantasy Points Per Game: 20.81
Average Fantasy Points Per Game: 15.16
- Philip Rivers at Tennessee – QB11, 21.16 Fantasy Points
- Mitch Trubisky vs. New Orleans – QB14, 20.04 Fantasy Points
- Joe Flacco vs. Kansas City – QB27, 6.52 Fantasy Points
Other Possible Options: This was one of the better weeks for streaming… in hindsight. Fitzpatrick, Carr, Minshew, Brissett and Dalton all had great games. They were all facing defenses that were playing really well. You could have also rolled with Sam Darnold who put up a NEGATIVE 6.66 points.
Top Possible Fantasy Points Per Game: 20.86
Average Fantasy Points Per Game: 15.85
- Matt Moore vs. Green Bay – QB12, 18.98 Fantasy Points
- Andy Dalton at L.A. Rams – QB15, 18.16 Fantasy Points
- Jacoby Brissett vs. Denver – QB27, 9.48 Fantasy Points
Top Possible Fantasy Points Per Game: 20.63
Average Fantasy Points Per Game: 16.14
- Jimmy Garoppolo at Arizona – QB2, 28.88 Fantasy Points
- Derek Carr vs. Detroit – QB12, 19.56 Fantasy Points
- Sam Darnold at Miami – QB21, 12.5 Fantasy Points
Other Possible Options: Ryan Fitzpatrick had a really good day but I have to think you were looking to go against Miami still at this point. Matt Moore was probably my fourth choice, but he slid right in the same range as Carr/Darnold.
Top Possible Fantasy Points Per Game: 21.54
Average Fantasy Points Per Game: 16.52
- Mitch Trubisky vs. Detroit – QB9, 19.72 Fantasy Points
- Ryan Fitzpatrick at Indianapolis – QB17, 13.06 Fantasy Points
- Philip Rivers at Oakland – QB19, 10.28 Fantasy Points
Other Possible Options: Jimmy G and Derek Carr were probably the next two popular options and neither one passed Fitzpatrick’s total
Top Possible Fantasy Points Per Game: 21.36
Average Fantasy Points Per Game: 16.18
- Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Arizona – QB3, 29.66 Fantasy Points
- Derek Carr vs. Cincinnati – QB11, 19.78 Fantasy Points
- Philip Rivers vs. Kansas City – QB17, 12.12 Fantasy Points
Other Possible Options: Brissett coming off a bye was another option but I was definitely turned off him at this point. Kyle Allen had some buzz here but he laid an absolute egg.
Top Possible Fantasy Points Per Game: 22.11
Average Fantasy Points Per Game: 16.50
- Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Green Bay – QB12, 18.22 Fantasy Points
- Nick Foles at Tennessee – QB14, 14.88 Fantasy Points
- Derek Carr at N.Y. Jets – QB28, 4.18 Fantasy Points
Other Possible Options: If you fell into the Mason Rudolph or Brandon Allen trap then you ended up with less than four points. Sam Darnold had a solid outing but he was so hit or miss I definitely wasn’t using him anymore.
Top Possible Fantasy Points Per Game: 21.79
Average Fantasy Points Per Game: 16.37
- Andy Dalton vs. N.Y. Jets – QB23, 13.32 Fantasy Points
- Derek Carr at Kansas City – QB26, 11.58 Fantasy Points
- Sam Darnold at Cincinnati – QB30, 10.46 Fantasy Points
Other Possible Options: The only few solid options that scored well (Fitzpatrick, Trubisky and Kyle Allen) all had tough situations to start them in.
Top Possible Fantasy Points Per Game: 21.14
Average Fantasy Points Per Game: 16.00
- Sam Darnold vs. Miami – QB16, 17.1 Fantasy Points
- Ryan Fitzpatrick at N.Y. Jets – QB19, 14.3 Fantasy Points
- Andy Dalton at Cleveland – QB30, 9.58 Fantasy Points
Other Possible Options: Once again, the Dallas D was looking like one of the best units in the league so if you rolled with Trubisky then you don’t need any help with your crystal ball. Rivers and Brissett had been too up and down to trust on the road. Jimmy G was the second best scorer of streamers but that was a tough start on the road against a really good team after he had a really bad week.
Top Possible Fantasy Points Per Game: 20.85
Average Fantasy Points Per Game: 15.88
- Ryan Fitzpatrick at N.Y. Giants – QB7, 20.46 Fantasy Points
- Jimmy Garoppolo vs. Atlanta – QB26, 12.6 Fantasy Points
- Philip Rivers vs. Minnesota – QB27, 8.28 Fantasy Points
Other Possible Options: So in your Fantasy Playoffs only a single streaming-available quarterback put up even 19 Fantasy Points. The only other even startable options were Darnold and Trubisky, but don’t tell me you were putting your Fantasy Season’s life on the line with one of those two on the road.
Top Possible Fantasy Points Per Game: 20.82
Average Fantasy Points Per Game: 15.66
- Ryan Fitzpatrick vs. Cincinnati – QB3, 31.66 Fantasy Points
- Jacoby Brissett vs. Carolina – QB18, 15.66 Fantasy Points
- Jimmy Garoppolo vs. L.A. Rams – QB22, 10.42 Fantasy Points
Other Possible Options: Don’t tell me you went with Dalton after scoring less than 12 points the previous two weeks combined. No other option cracked the 12-point mark.
Top Possible Fantasy Points Per Game: 21.50
Average Fantasy Points Per Game: 15.66
So if you hit the best option every single week from the most widely used streaming quarterbacks you averaged 21.5 Fantasy Points per game. That would have been QB3. What do you think your success rate would be in hitting that guy each week? 50%? 25%?
I think even the best Fantasy players are about average in this area. The middle performer each week averaged out to 15.66 Fantasy Points per game. That slots you around QB19. (If you average every single streamer listed it’s similar at 15.44 Fantasy Points per game, QB20.)
If you would have blindly started Jimmy G, Philip Rivers, Ryan Fitzpatrick or Gardner Minshew every week then you would have scored more. This is all canceling out the majority of the extremely bad plays that could have dipped the average closer to 10 points per game.
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I am not planning on streaming quarterbacks this season. I am not planning on even “waiting” on the position like most analysts (including myself) have been preaching for five or six years. Obviously I always take the best value so the draft board may dictate that one of those is still an option. However, I think there has been a shift back toward a top-heavy group at the position.
There is a clear, elite tier of five players: Patrick Mahomes, Lamar Jackson, Dak Prescott, Deshaun Watson and Russell Wilson. Kyler Murray may sneak into this group this season, but he is already being drafted at his ceiling (55.6 ADP).
Most projections have that whole group a clear 2.5 Fantasy Points per week above the rest of the position. Last season alone there was nearly a 4-point per week gap between QB5 and QB12. This tier has elevated themselves while the older guard (Brees, Rodgers, Rivers, Ben, etc.) are on a decline.
This gap has put added value on getting one of this elite tier, more value than the backs and receivers going in the same range. Later in the offseason, I will get more into why Lamar will not be the one on my rosters, but I can promise you one of the other four or five will definitely be drafted on the majority of my teams.