Streaming your starting QB, TE, or D/ST isn't the goal in fantasy football. But, if you're weak at a position where you only have to start one player, picking up usable fantasy weeks from the waiver wire can be a beneficial process. In typical start-one quarterback, tight end, and D/ST 12-team formats, most of your league mates won't -- and shouldn't -- carry a backup QB or D/ST. Positional scarcity leaves the waiver wire flush with plausible weekly starting options based on their matchup and expected game-flow.
Simply put, because quarterback and defensive matchups are easier to predict and their output varies less on a weekly basis, sharp fantasy owners have an edge in their leagues if they can stream their "onesie" positions (usually their defense) better than their opponent.
Programming note: With a short holiday week on tap, we're taking the week off from the Deep Dive. Instead, check out the Week 12 Waiver Wire adds and the following streamers for all of your weekly waiver needs:
Once again, Tampa switched back to Winston after Ryan Fitzpatrick threw three haphazard INTs on 21 attempts against the Giants. Winston proceeded to come in and nearly lead a comeback, ripping the G-Men for 199 yards and two TDs (1 INT) on 16 passes. Now back under center in Week 12, he'll return to the high-end QB2 radar against a Niners side that has allowed a 21:2 QB-INT ratio on the season. Regardless of who is starting, the "Bucs QB" is the No. 2 scoring passer in fantasy points per game (24.6) behind only Patrick Mahomes (27.2). For reference, Mahomes is having the best fantasy QB season ever while the "Bucs QB" is the ninth-highest scoring fantasy passer all-time.
Fresh out of their bye, Mayfield and Co. are in a blowup spot against the crumbling Bengals. Over their last five games, Cincinnati has allowed the following weekly fantasy performances: QB12 (Roethlisberger), QB1 (Mahomes), QB1 (Fitzpatrick/Winston), QB3 (Brees), and QB13 (Lamar Jackson). In this span, no team has allowed more passing YPG (322.4) despite Jackson's 19-attempt performance from Week 11 mixed in. Mayfield has thrown multiple passing scores in four straight games, owning a 104.6 passer rating in this span. Fire him up.
In a game-script that is almost unheard of in the modern NFL, Baltimore called just 19 pass attempts on 73 plays in Lamar Jackson's first start. The Ravens went 74 percent run-heavy in an actual NFL game. For reference, the league has been about 60 percent pass-heavy this season. Jackson did not do much on his passes (150, 1 INT, 70.1 passer rating), but he turned his enormous 27 carries into 117 yards on the ground. Thanks to his legs, Jackson will remain on the high-end QB2 radar. Oakland is simply not remotely close to ready for Jackson's speed. Per Next Gen Stats, Jackson reached 15-plus MPH on 14 rush attempts while no other player has hit 15-plus MPH on more than nine rush attempts in any game this season.
After ripping the Raiders for 262 yards and three scores in his debut, Mullens predictably fell back down to earth in Week 10 against the Giants -- finishing as the QB24 on the slate. We have to turn the light back on in Week 12, however. The Bucs' "secondary" has allowed multiple passing scores to every quarterback not named Nick Foles or Alex Smith. Even Eli Manning turned back the proverbial clock against Tampa last week, ripping the Bucs' pitiful defense for an efficient 17-of-18, 231 yards, and 2 TD passing line. Mullens is in play because of the matchup, but he is far behind the top-three streamers of the week.
Herndon's snap rate has increased in four-straight games (34 percent, 50 percent, 63 percent, 64 percent) as the Jets are searching for pass catchers on their destitute depth chart. Even though Herndon has cleared four targets just once in a single game all year, he's still seeing just enough volume to keep him afloat at the thinnest position in fantasy. Over the last five weeks, Herndon is the TE14 in PPR points per game (9.9) while the Pats' have allowed the eighth-most fantasy points per target to the position over the full year.
Granted, Marcus Mariota (throwing elbow) left early in their Week 11 embarrassing 38-10 destruction -- but Smith parlayed his team-leading eight targets into 6/44 receiving. Riding a mini hot-streak, Smith's has turned his 13 targets into 11/122/2 since Tennessee's Week 8 bye. Now, Smith has an attractive date against the Texans next up on the docket. Over their last two games, Houston has allowed 10/83/1 to Jeff Heuerman and 7/71/1 to Jordan Reed.
Without Demaryius Thomas in the lineup over the Broncos last two games, Heuerman has seen 16 targets (23.5 percent share), leading the team by a hair over Emmanuel Sanders (15 targets). In these two games, Heuerman has seen a passing look from Case Keenum on an enormous 34.5 percent of his routes, also leading the team. With new opportunity since Thomas is in Houston, Heuerman remains on the TE2 streaming radar in Week 12 against a Steelers side that has allowed the tenth-most YPG (62.7) to the position.
Down three starting offensive lineman, their starting quarterback, RB Chris Thompson (ribs), WR Jamison Crowder (ankle), and WR Paul Richardson (shoulder; IR) -- Washington rolls into Week 12 with what amounts to a preseason offensive depth chart. The team will go with Colt McCoy under center in Alex Smith's (broken leg) prolonged absence. In his career, McCoy has a 27:23 TD-INT ratio, he's averaged just 6.6 YPA, and has absorbed a sack on a lofty 8.5 percent of his dropbacks. Dallas is presently seventh-best in sack rate forced (7.9 percent) and have logged top-13 fantasy results against Tennessee, Philadelphia, and Atlanta in their last three games.
Over his last six starts, Blake Bortles has a 5:5 QB-INT ratio, he's completed just 58 percent of his passes, and he's been sacked three times per game. In this span, the Jags are sixth-from-last in yards gained per drive while just 26.1 percent of their possessions have ended in a score. Only Arizona (20.3 percent) has scored less often. D/ST streamers' mouths have to water in this draw, as Buffalo owns the fourth-lowest completion rate below expectation (4.9 percent) and the sixth-lowest passer rating (86.7), per Next Gen Stats. This year, the Bills D/ST has averaged 11.5 fantasy points per game at home (most in the league).
Over the last two weeks without A.J. Green (toe), Andy Dalton has completed just 55 percent of his passes, he owns a lowly 78.3 passer rating, and he's absorbed five sacks as the Bengals offense has crumbled under the weight of injuries. Now, Dalton and Co. have to deal with the Browns imposing defense. Over the full year, the Browns have limited passers to the second-lowest completion rate below expectation (6.4 percent) and the third-lowest passer rating (84.3).