The first week of football is finally here, which means fantasy football managers are right at home tinkering and researching ways to build the optimal lineup.
It’s right where we all want to be.
Though the draft season is coming to an end, and the majority of managers are set for Week 1, there are those who will be taking on the stream life when it comes to certain positions.
The stream life isn’t for everyone. It’s chaotic, hectic, and stressful. But when it hits correctly, it can have a massive impact on a manager’s lineup.
In order to qualify as a streamer, a player must be available in more than 40% of ESPN leagues at the time of writing. Each week, we will focus on the quarterback, tight end, defense/special teams, and kicker positions.
For each position, I’ll give a “stream of the week” indicating the priority streamer along with an additional two options. Don’t be afraid to hit me up on Twitter with any questions or thoughts on the process (shameless plug – @KevinHickey11).
After taking a look at the top options on the waiver wire for Week 1, here are the top streaming options in fantasy football:
PK Rodrigo Blankenship, Indianapolis Colts
Roster Availability: 92.4%
Week 1 Opponent: at Houston Texans
The Colts are on the road to open the season, but they shouldn’t have too much trouble moving the ball against a Texans defense that has far too many question marks. Blankenship may have limited range, but he should have plenty of opportunities inside a dome in Week 1.
Philadelphia Eagles D/ST
Roster Availability: 76.2%
Week 1 Opponent: vs. Detroit Lions
The Eagles defense looks to be a strong unit going into the 2022 season, and the unit became even stronger before the season after acquiring safety C.J. Gardner-Johnson from the New Orleans Saints. Going against the Lions offense should put them in favorable situations, especially since there are still questions about who is calling the plays.
TE Irv Smith Jr., Minnesota Vikings
Roster Availability: 56.4%
Week 1 Opponent: vs. Green Bay Packers
Despite thumb surgery keeping Smith off the field for a good chunk of training camp and the preseason, he’s expected to play in Week 1 against the Packers. The tight end landscape is rough to begin with, but Smith has a chance to carve out a role early in the passing game. With Kevin O’Connell coming over from the Los Angeles Rams, the Vikings should be throwing the ball more. The Packers allowed the 12th-most fantasy points to the tight end position in 2021 so Smith could be in for a solid outing.
QB Jameis Winston, New Orleans Saints
Roster Availability: 67.1%
Week 1 Opponent: at Atlanta Falcons
As Winston looks to come back from the torn ACL that ended his 2021 season prematurely, he gets the chance to start the season on the right foot against the Falcons in Week 1. Winston should have the full complement of weapons, assuming Michael Thomas is healthy and playing. The Falcons allowed the third-most fantasy points (332.6) and third-most passing touchdowns (31) to opposing quarterbacks in 2021. Winston also starts the season off against a defense that was dead last in pressure rate (16.7%) in 2021.
PK Ryan Succop, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Roster Availability: 74.1%
Week 1 Opponent: at Dallas Cowboys
The Buccaneers offense is a bit puzzling right now with question marks surrounding the offensive line and wide receiver Chris Godwin, who is working his way back from ACL reconstruction surgery. However, this offense is still led by Tom Brady, and there will be plenty of opportunities for Succop to kick in what could be a high-scoring game at AT&T Stadium on Sunday Night Football.
Tennessee Titans D/ST
Roster Availability: 85.3%
Week 1 Opponent: vs. New York Giants
The Giants may be heading in the right direction with Brian Daboll as the head coach, but that doesn’t mean their offensive woes are fixed. Daniel Jones still has the knack for turning the ball over while the wide receiver corps is a mess entering the season. Oddsmakers have this matchup as one of the lowest-scoring affairs on the weekend at 43.5 points with the Titans as 5.5-point favorites. The Titans may be without Harold Landry (ACL), but they are still a solid streaming option against the Giants defense.
TE David Njoku, Cleveland Browns
Roster Availability: 54%
Week 1 Opponent: at Carolina Panthers
Anyone who wants to avoid the Browns offense won’t find much of an argument from me, but the value on Njoku could pay off. He’s extremely athletic, and the Browns paid him this offseason to be involved in the passing game. On top of that, Jacoby Brissett historically targets the tight end position, and there are enough question marks at wide receiver behind Amari Cooper to look Njoku’s way as a streamer to open the season.
QB Matt Ryan, Indianapolis Colts
Roster Availability: 76.3%
Week 1 Opponent: at Houston Texans
We’re going back to the Colts for our second quarterback streamer in Week 1. This is more of a floor play if you’re looking to play it safe, but there is some upside caked in. The focal point will be to use Jonathan Taylor, but Ryan gets to go against a Texans defense that allowed the sixth-most fantasy points to quarterbacks in 2021. The Colts are heavily favored in this game so we should have confidence in Ryan and the offense in Week 1.
Stream of the Week: PK Dustin Hopkins, Los Angeles Chargers
Roster Availability: 82.7%
Week 1 Opponent: vs. Las Vegas Raiders
With Justin Herbert at the helm, we can have confidence that the Chargers are going to move the ball plenty throughout the game Sunday. The Chargers are favored to win in what is projected to be one of the highest-scoring games of the week.
Stream of the Week: Denver Broncos D/ST
Roster Availability: 78%
Week 1 Opponent: at Seattle Seahawks
There are few better options to open the season than the Broncos defense and special teams unit. They get to take on the Seahawks, whose offense will be led by Geno Smith. In what is expected to be a low-scoring game, this is the type of matchup we look for when streaming a defense. The Broncos are heavily favored and have one of the lowest projected totals on the week, according to Tipico Sportsbook. Easy choice.
Stream of the Week: TE Gerald Everett, Los Angeles Chargers
Roster Availability: 91.9%
Week 1 Opponent: vs. Las Vegas Raiders
Everett was one of the targets in our waiver wire piece for Week 1. Even though there are a lot of mouths to feed within the Chargers offense, it’s wise to look for breakout tight ends that are associated with quarterbacks that have a high ADP. Everett falls into that bucket, and there’s a chance he sees some open looks against a Raiders defense that allowed the fifth-most fantasy points (257.1) and the third-most touchdowns (10) to tight ends in 2021.
Stream of the Week: QB Justin Fields, Chicago Bears
Roster Availability: 52.6%
Week 1 Opponent: vs. San Francisco 49ers
We are going with the upside for our quarterback stream of the week here. There’s plenty of risk with starting Fields to begin the season, but there’s an inherent risk in streaming to begin with. Though this may be projected as a low-scoring game, Fields’ rushing ability gives him the type of upside other streaming options don’t have. The second-year passer averaged 7.7 rushing attempts per game over his final six appearances in 2021 while the 49ers defense allowed the eighth-most rushing yards (362) and eighth-most rushing touchdowns (four) to the quarterback position. It might be a volatile day for the Bears quarterback as a passer, but if you’re streaming for upside (which you should), then Fields needs to be high on your list.