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.
That's what this column is all about. Here are your Week 3 streamers:
No one saw this coming. Through two games against the Saints and Eagles, Ryan Fitzpatrick has caught absolute fire. In Week 1 against New Orleans, "Fitzmagic" threw for 417 yards, four TDs, and completed 75 percent of his passes. In Week 2 against Philadelphia, Fitzpatrick went off again, this time against an even better defense: 402 yards, four TDs, and an unreal 82 percent completion rate.
Now, touchdown regression is coming. In his two nuclear performances, Fitzpatrick has thrown a touchdown on an other-worldly 13.1 percent of his passes. The average passing touchdown rate over the last four years is 4.5 percent while Fitzmagic's career TD rate is 4.4 percent. What's more, per Next Gen Stats, Fitzpatrick's expected completion percentage in Weeks 1-2 is 65 percent -- but he's actually completed 79 percent! Next Gen Stats' completion probability explains how difficult (or not) a pass attempt was. Essentially, Fitzpatrick has been both lethally accurate and certainly lucky on his passes thus far.
Still, this is not the week to get off of the Fitzpatrick train.
In Weeks 1-2, the Steelers have allowed a QB6 fantasy performance to Tyrod Taylor and were just demolished for six passing scores and a QB2 finish from Patrick Mahomes. Fitzpatrick is going to crash back to earth some, but the Bucs have the best supporting cast that Fitzpatrick has ever played with, by far. This is real. Fitzpatrick is a top-12 quarterback play for Week 3, and easily the best Week 3 streamer.
Unlike Ryan Fitzpatrick, Bears' second-year QB Mitchell Trubisky has not gotten off to a fast start through the air. In Weeks 1-2, Trubisky has averaged just 5.4 Pass YPA (second-worst) while only throwing for 171 and 200 yards against the Packers and Seahawks, respectively. It's not like Trubisky's receivers aren't open, either. Per Next Gen Stats, Trubisky has thrown into a tight window on just 13 percent of his throws so far. The NFL average is 16 percent.
Even though Trubisky has been far from efficient in Weeks 1-2, he has to be on the streaming radar in Week 3 against Arizona. To start the year, the Cards have allowed two back-to-back QB13 weekly fantasy performances to Alex Smith and Jared Goff. 73 percent of passes thrown into Arizona's pass coverage have been completed, the seventh-highest rate in the NFL. Per Next Gen Stats, the Cards have allowed a 104.6 passer rating (fifth-highest) while just 9.7 percent of throws into coverage have been through a tight window (third-fewest). Trubisky is lightly-owned across fantasy leagues and has a dream matchup against perhaps the worst team in the league this week.
It's been a bizarre start to the season for fantasy tight ends. We've already lost Greg Olsen (foot) for multiple weeks, and Delanie Walker (ankle) is on injured reserve. Right now, Jared Cook (35.9), Jesse James (33.8), and Will Dissly (32.7) are your top-three scoring TEs in PPR formats after two games. Isn't fantasy fun?!
Seriously, though -- most squads are already hurting at the tight end spot. Tight end streaming isn't the goal, but sharp owners without a stud are likely going to have to turn to the wire more than a few times this year for production. This week, there are three stream-worthy TEs:
Floor: Ben Watson at Atlanta (95 percent available)
Even at 37-years-old, Ben Watson is commanding a significant role in the Saints' attack. In Weeks 1-2, Watson has played on 81 percent of New Orleans offensive plays and he's seen at least one red zone target in each game so far. Now, Watson gets a Deion Jones- and Keanu Neal-less Falcons' defense in an expected Week 3 shootout. Watson saw four targets in Week 1 (4/44 receiving) and five targets in Week 2 (3/19 receiving).
It's been a rough start for the Saints defense. Against the Bucs and Browns, the Saints have allowed a gargantuan 11.4 pass YPA, coughed up a 126.6 passer rating to enemy QBs, and forced pressure on just 18 percent of pass plays (fourth-lowest rate), per Next Gen Stats. Austin Hooper is by no means a huge part of Atlanta's passing attack -- he's seen four and five targets in Weeks 1-2, respectively -- but he's a free avenue to attack New Orleans' faltering aerial defense. Hooper has seen at least one red-zone target in each game so far and is third behind Julio Jones and Mohamed Sanu in pass routes run in Atlanta.
After missing most of the preseason and Opening Day, McDonald returned from a foot injury in Week 2 and subsequently split time with Jesse James. In his 2018 debut, McDonald drew five targets and actually ran more pass routes (34) than James (31). Both Steelers TEs will likely cancel each other out for fantasy over the long run, but if you're truly desperate in Week 3 -- McDonald and James both have forecastable upside. The Bucs' secondary just allowed 5/59 to Saints TEs in Week 1 and were whacked for 15/151 receiving against Zach Ertz and backup TE, Josh Perkins, in Week 2.
Chicago's D/ST should not be available in any leagues. Through two games, the Bears defense has scored 14 and 17 fantasy points against Green Bay and Seattle, respectively. In fact, the Bears' re-worked front seven with superstar Khalil Mack has gotten off to a stellar, near-perfect start. Chicago leads all teams in sacks (10) and limited the usually high-powered Packers and Seahawks' offenses to just 5.28 yards per play (11th-fewest). Now, they get to face a lifeless Arizona Cardinals side that can't sustain drives or move the ball efficiently. Fire them up with loads of confidence.
The Seahawks offensive line has already surrendered an astronomical 12 sacks through their first two games, allowing six sacks each to both Denver and Chicago. Now, the 'Boys don't have Von Miller or Khalil Mack -- the two best EDGE rushers in the NFL -- getting after the quarterback. But, Dallas' front seven led by Demarcus Lawrence has already forced nine sacks (second-most) and allowed just 29 offensive points (third-fewest) in Weeks 1-2. In fact, Dallas' defense limited the Panthers and Giants to just 4.32 yards per play in their opening two games -- the second-best clip in the league behind Baltimore (4.02 YPP allowed). The Cowboys' D/ST has plenty of sack-based upside in Week 3, but the only concern is that they play on the road. Over the last three years, visiting defenses average -0.3 fantasy points below expectation while enemy fantasy D/ST's have put up only 6.1 points per game on the road against the Seahawks over the last three seasons.
Wait a second. The Browns... have a defense? In Weeks 1-2, Cleveland has held its own, limiting Ben Roethlisberger and Drew Brees to a fairly measly 79.3 Passer Rating (10th-lowest), per Next Gen Stats. Now, the Browns have only generated 15 pressures -- but they are getting home when they do get the quarterback under duress. Cleveland followed up its four-sack, six-turnover performance in Week 1 with a three-sack showing on the road against Drew Brees' Saints. It's an impressive start. The Browns have limited enemy offenses to just 5.28 yards per play so far -- the same clip as the Bears (11th-fewest). After being torched by the deep ball repeatedly in 2017, Cleveland has allowed just one pass (out of seven attempts) over 20 air yards to be completed in Weeks 1-2. They are an attractive D/ST dart on Thursday Night Football against the rookie, Sam Darnold.