A popular tactic in fantasy football is known as “streaming,” where owners cycle through the best available matchups among waiver wire options from week to week. This strategy is most commonly used with defensive teams, place kickers, tight ends and sometimes even quarterbacks.
Now that we are battling bye weeks, coupled with a rash of recent injuries, it is time to embrace this approach.
Quarterbacks to consider
Brian Hoyer, Chicago Bears vs. Detroit Lions
The Lions rate as the second easiest matchup for quarterbacks through three weeks of play. This group has given up 10 touchdowns, which is tied for tops in the league, to only one interception (worst ratio).
The Bears appear to have new life in their running game with Jordan Howard taking over for the injured Jeremy Langford, helping keep Detroit honest around the line of scrimmage. Taking it one step further, the Lions once again may be without defensive end Ziggy Ansah and linebacker DeAndre Levy, the two best players on this side of the ball in the Motor City.
Joe Flacco, Baltimore Ravens vs. Oakland Raiders
Only the aforementioned Lions and Atlanta Falcons have been worse against fantasy passers than the Raiders. The numbers should be worse, but they were given a softie last week against Marcus Mariota.
No team has permitted more passing yards than Oakland’s 1,033 allowed, a stat that helps contribute to yielding 27.5 fantasy points per game to the position. Flacco, at home, has a weak running game on his side. It forces him into passing situations but may come at the cost of a turnover or two. We’re streaming here, so being picky is closer to a luxury. Consider anything north of 250 yards and two touchdowns a small victory.
Tight ends to trust
Vance McDonald/Garrett Celek, San Francisco 49ers vs. Dallas Cowboys
There’s a caveat here: Celek has worth only if Vance McDonald (hip) does not play. McDonald returned to practice Thursday in a limited fashion, and we won’t know the status of Celek until later this even. Being the Sunday Night Football contest, this is a risky path to take, but the upside is obvious.
Regardless of the player, the matchup is the focus here. We’re talking a flier, right? Dallas has given up the most passes to the position (23, tied) and the second highest yardage total by a yard less than Atlanta’s 247. Only two teams have surrendered more scores to tight ends. All of this combines to create the third best statistical matchup for PPR tight ends. Given the way Dallas’ cornerbacks have played in 2016, Blaine Gabbert will be avoiding his wideouts in favor of underneath patterns.
Cozy up with a kicker
Matt Prater, Detroit Lions at Chicago Bears
The Lions could be in a tough spot if blossoming wide receiver Marvin Jones Jr. doesn’t suit up after suffering a suffering a hamstring injury during Thursday’s practice session. No Jones may lead to more stalled drives. Either way, it doesn’t dramatically impact Prater’s chances of having a quality game for fantasy owners. He is available in nearly 80 percent of leagues polled.
The Bears have allowed eight field goal attempts (seven were good) and eight of nine point-after tries. This equates to an average of 9.7 fantasy points per game. It’s all about the opportunities with kickers, and just six teams have provided more three-point chances to the position. Simply meeting the average expectations would make Prater a fine addition to any fantasy lineup this week.
Nick Novak, Houston Texans vs. Tennessee Titans
I may get accused of being a Novak cheerleader, which is fine, as I’ve been called much worse. He’s the 13th highest scoring kicker after three weeks, and that includes a goose egg after New England’s shutout of the Texans. Novak has made seven of his eight field goal attempts and all three of his extra points.
The Titans have allowed kickers an average of three field goal opportunities per game in as many games. Only seven have gone through, but the chance to score is the focus with kicker matchups. Tennessee has given way to five extra point kicks (four made).
Get daring with this defense
Jacksonville Jaguars vs. Indianapolis Colts (in London)
Always a tough one to forecast, this game heads to the United Kingdom’s Wembley Stadium. The Jags are labeled the “home team” in what is nothing more than just that, a label. Jacksonville has generated a mere 10 total fantasy points in three weeks against Green Bay, San Diego and Baltimore. Not exactly the easiest slate.
The Colts can score in bunches, too, so this one doesn’t stand up as well in leagues that heavily penalize points allowed. In total, no team has been more generous to opposing defenses, and we’re talking an average of 11 fantasy points per game allowed. Andrew Luck has been sacked three times per game, throwing a pair of interceptions on the year. Three defensive touchdowns have been scored against this group, which is a little fluky, but it shows carelessness with the ball.