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.
Week 13 bye teams: Cleveland Browns, Tennessee Titans
Since we have just a handful of regularly useful players on bye this week, we’ll focus on a few specific replacements for key players in what will be the final installment of 2016.
Quarterbacks to consider
Note: Both Ryan Fitzpatrick and Matt Barkley were given brief mentions in this week’s release of The Pick-up Joint. Read on for more elaboration.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, New York Jets vs. Indianapolis Colts
Indianapolis offers the best overall opportunity for fantasy points using data over the last five weeks. This group has given up the third most points to quarterbacks — mainly coming from conceding a touchdown every 8.2 completions. No team has been worse at preventing touchdowns over that span.
Fitzpatrick has problems of his own, so there is obvious risk here … as there should be with a streaming quarterback play in Week 13. Let’s face it … if you’ve made it this far rotating quarterbacks, consider yourself lucky. The bye week for Marcus Mariota is arguably the top driving factor for gamers to use Fitz.
Brock Osweiler, Houston Texans at Green Bay Packers
OK, this one was painful to write, so I will convey the cautionary point of just how risky it really is to start Osweiler. Gamers in two-quarterback leagues are the most likely to consider the former Denver Bronco.
The good: Green Bay is the fourth worst team at allowing yards per game, touchdowns efficiency, and yards per completion since Week 7. This defense has permitted the seventh most points, on average, in standard fantasy scoring, and only Buffalo has given up more points per play to quarterbacks.
The bad: He’s Brock Osweiler. On the road. After a three-interception game. Yikes. Seriously, though, I find last week’s game kind of comforting. The chance of him being that bad again is extremely low, particularly against a Packers team that may be without LB Clay Matthews.
Matt Barkley, Chicago Bears vs. San Francisco 49ers
The lack of weaponry — well, proven, anyway — is a concern. Last week, Barkley made the best of his situation. Also a concern is how little he may need to pass versus fantasy’s worst defense of running backs. It could be the Jordan Howard show.
Now that you’ve been warmed up with all of the negatives, fantasy gamers should focus on the matchup, which is the worst against quarterbacks for yards allowed per game (316). San Francisco has surrendered a touchdown every 9.3 completions, which is the third most generous clip in fantasy since Week 7.
Trust this tight end
TE Jermaine Gresham, Arizona Cardinals vs. Washington Redskins
Gresham has seen a larger role lately with John Brown’s illness and Michael Floyd’s hands of stone opening up looks. The veteran has seen 25 targets in the last four games, including a season-high 10 last week. He has scored in back-to-back games. Gresham is an acceptable replacement for Jordan Reed, Rob Gronkowski or Delanie Walker this week.
Washington has given up the most opportunities and fantasy points in PPR scoring over the last five weeks. Tight ends have averaged 7.5 catches for 87.5 yards — both ranking as the second most generous stats for tight ends. Three of the last 30 catches allowed have scored touchdowns, rating as the eighth friendliest defense.
Cozy up with a kicker
Matt Prater, Detroit Lions at New Orleans Saints
Over the last five weeks (four games), Prater has attempted a pathetically low six extra points, making five. He has kicked 10 of his 11 field goal attempts through the uprights, though, to salvage value as the 13th overall kicker in this time frame.
During that same window, New Orleans has provided kickers with the eighth most combined kicking chances, which has resulted in giving up the third highest weekly average of fantasy points to the position.
Get daring with a defense
Tampa Bay Buccaneers at San Diego Chargers
Tennessee and Cleveland are not routinely started fantasy defenses, and there are not many good options this week for teams who are not widely utilized. Tampa Bay has racked up the third most average points over the last five weeks, so depending on your league’s intensity, this defense might not be available.
The Chargers have given up the sixth most combined sacks and turnovers over that same period, leading to defenses averaging the fourth highest weekly figure. Nine sacks, eight interceptions, and a pair of defensive touchdowns against spell the story of this one.