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 typically their "onesie" positions (typically their defense) better than their opponent.
That's what this column is all about. Here are your Week 2 Streamers:
Fresh off a sneaky 255-yard, two-TD debut with his new team, Alex Smith and Co. travel back east for a home date against a reeling Colts' defense. Indianapolis surrendered 6.60 yards per play to Cincinnati, the fourth-most YPP allowed on the Opening Day slate. Andy Dalton himself ripped the Colts for an efficient 8.7 passing yards per attempt and a 109.7 passer rating through the air. Per Next Gen Stats, just 7.1 percent of Dalton's Week 1 throws were thrown into a tight window, the second-lowest rate during Week 1. Alex Smith should have an easy home day at the office in Week 2.
Tyrod possesses a monster ceiling against a Saints team that was just thrashed by Ryan Fitzpatrick in Week 1. "Fitzmagic" ripped New Orleans on the road, throwing for a laughable 417 yards and 4 TDs against a Saints unit that was expected to be even better in 2018. Maybe it was just a blip on the radar –- New Orleans' defense notoriously started slowly in 2017 vs. Minnesota -– but Taylor may have a huge day in Week 2. Despite a horrendous game through the air in Pittsburgh (37.5 percent completion percentage, 51.8 passer rating), Tyrod Taylor still managed to finish as Week 1's QB6 in output (23.6 fantasy points) thanks in large part to his 8/77/1 rushing line. If Taylor can even manage an average day passing in New Orleans against a secondary and defensive line that started poorly out of the gates, his added rushing ability adds icing to the cake.
The Cardinals laid an egg Week 1 vs. Washington, but RSJ's participation continues to be encouraging. During the preseason, Seals-Jones played on 87 percent of Cards' first-team offensive snaps. In Week 1, RSJ was in on 92 percent of downs and was on-field for all but four of Sam Bradford's 40 drop backs. The Rams were just whacked for 8/158 receiving by Jared Cook as the Raiders' funneled targets to the short and intermediate parts of the field, in an attempt to stay away from doom on the outside in Marcus Peters and Aqib Talib. If you just lost Delanie Walker for the season, lock RSJ up.
Fully healthy after a scary knee injury (torn MCL) in the Divisional Round of the playoffs last year, Jonnu Smith will be elevated to a full-time starting role since Delanie Walker (ankle) is out for the season. Even before Walker suffered his injury in the fourth-quarter of Week 1, Smith was a factor, playing on 58 percent of snaps and seeing three targets. Granted, it's Gronk, but the Texans did just give up 7/123/1 (on eight targets) to the best TE in NFL history on Opening Day. Marcus Mariota's health needs to check out (elbow), but he's one of the NFL's most tight end-reliant QBs. Last year, Mariota targeted his TEs 31 percent of the time (second-most). The Titans have huge shoes to fill with Walker out, who has personally accounted for 23 percent of Mariota's targets over the last four years.
Do you need a possible punt TE candidate with a legitimate shot at a score? Once again, enter Antonio Gates. Unsurprisingly, 38-year-old Gates only played on 42 percent of Chargers' Week 1 snaps after missing all of training camp, but he was on-field for 4-of-4 red-zone plays and 6-of-11 third-down snaps (per Next Gen Stats). Gates might not have much gas left in his proverbial tank, but he's going to play on calorie-rich snaps in the 'Bolts attack. Buffalo offered zero resistance to Baltimore in Week 1, easily allowing a 47-spot to a Ravens' attack that finished 29th in passing offense and 31st in offensive yards per play the year prior. Baltimore tight ends Mark Andrews and Nick Boyle combined for 6/71 against Buffalo on Opening Day.
*Note: Week 2 is an abnormally weak streaming slate for defenses. *
Unfortunately, despite two tough matchups for two highly-owned fantasy defenses (Jaguars D/ST vs. Patriots; Vikings D/ST vs. Packers), Week 2 is a middling defensive streaming slate. However, Chicago finds itself in a unique situation at home against Seattle. Last week, Russell Wilson was under pressure on 41 percent of his drop backs, per Next Gen Stats. Denver's high-octane front-seven matches the ferocity of the Khalil Mack-led Bears. It didn't last into the second-half, but Mack single-handedly shutdown the Packers' entire offensive attack in the first half of Week 1 before Aaron Rodgers took over the game in the second half. Still, against a weak Seattle offensive line that just allowed a ton of pressure and the most sacks on the Week 1 slate (6), Chicago's defense has a coveted high-floor pressure-based projection.
Coming off a strong start on the road in Arizona, the Redskins D/ST returns home to face the Colts in Week 2. Last week, Washington's defense stifled the Cardinals, allowing just 4.16 yards per play (fourth-fewest) and pressuring Sam Bradford on 39 percent of his drop backs (seventh-highest rate, per Next Gen Stats). Over the last four years, fantasy defenses average +0.6 fantasy points above what is expected when they are at home and against non-division foes. Washington is widely available across the fantasy platform.
If this feels like a reach ... it's because it is. Week 2 is a destitute streaming slate for defenses without a clear cut second option behind the Bears D/ST. Cincinnati draws Baltimore on a short week in which both teams are coming off thrilling wins, albeit in different ways. Still, the Bengals D/ST has scored seven or more fantasy points in three of their last four games against Baltimore, dating back to the start of 2016. Cincinnati's re-tooled front seven forced pressure on Andrew Luck and the Colts offensive line a decent 33 percent of the time in Week 1 (12th-highest rate), per Next Gen Stats.