Starting this week, myself and the illustrious Jim Sannes of numberFire/FanDuel fame, will host a weekly podcast focused on QB2 streaming recommendations in 2QB leagues. … With Studs and Streaming becoming a defacto 2QB draft strategy of mine over the years, I’ve spent a great deal of time focused on playing the matchup game with the second starting quarterback slot. Before we dive into a new season I wanted to take a look at some numbers from last year to provide insight on how to handle streaming in 2QB leagues.
A Reminder about Streaming in 2QB Leagues
Before we start, I just want to remind you that streaming in leagues where you can start up to two quarterbacks differs from traditional streaming in start-one quarterback leagues. The waiver wire is not always your friend in 2QB leagues. Drafted Andy Dalton late in your 1QB league and want to drop him next week for a better streaming option? Go ahead, as the waiver wire will be stocked with viable streamers. In 2QB leagues though you won’t find such a safety net.
I plan my 2QB streaming approach in the draft based off of offseason strength of schedule analysis, which helps me pair two QB2s who I draft and stream during the season based on matchups. The best QB SoS analysis is from our good friend Pat Thorman and his QB SoS guide. The plan with our QB2 streaming podcast is to provide advice on which QB2 makes for the better streaming candidate each week by highlighting a few top options.
There will be instances when injury or ineffective play leads to a quarterback being available on the waiver wire, who you can pick up and stream, but you’ll have to be very active in your league to grab them before your league mates do. Now that we are on the same page, let’s take a look at some numbers from last year.
QB1 Finishes Allowed
Below is a chart showing the number of weekly top-12 fantasy QB performances a defense allowed last season:
As you can see, New Orleans gave up the most QB1 finishes last season with 10. New Orleans also allowed the most fantasy points to quarterbacks last year (24.54/game, 392.60 total) and passing touchdowns (2.8/game, 45 total). The Saints allowed nine passing touchdowns and 52.5 fantasy points more than the second-worst team in both categories (Philadelphia). The Saints were a QB streamer’s dream in 2015. There were three instances a fantasy QB scored under 15 fantasy points against the Saints last season, while they allowed a minimum of 18 in every other game, with eight games of 25+ and four games of 30+.
Each week of the season I would keep track of weekly fantasy QB finishes versus defenses and take that into account when looking at streamers. I would also record the fantasy finishes and points scored of every quarterback. You’ll begin to notice trends at some point and one of the early-season trends in 2015 was how bad the Baltimore Ravens defense was. From the chart above, you see they allowed seven top-12 fantasy QB finishes, but six of those came in their first eight games.
With fantasy football being a weekly game you have to adapt every week. What happened one week isn’t guaranteed to happen the next so if you aren’t on top of fantasy trends it could lead to you basing your streaming decision on out-of-date data.
QB2 Finishes Allowed
Since we play in leagues that start two quarterbacks, let’s take a look at the number of top-24 fantasy QB finishes each team allowed in 2015…
Man, were the Saints B-A-D. If you started your fantasy quarterback against New Orleans last season you were guaranteed at worst a top-24 performance. Finishing the week as a top-24 fantasy QB isn’t the sexiest proposition, but in 12-team 2QB leagues that is a “startable” week. However, when streaming the QB2 slot you don’t want to settle for just startable, you want to hit on QB1 or near QB1-level fantasy production.
How to Create a QB1 Via Streaming
I’ve talked about opportunity cost in 2QB drafts and how you can wait to draft your quarterbacks later because there will be startable options available at the position in the mid-to-late rounds. You’re not going to hit on an Aaron Rodgers in Round 12, but you could select a streaming QB2 duo to make up the difference each week by playing matchups. Below is a list of the number of top-12 finishes of each quarterback (who had at least one from Week 1 to Week 16) and their ADP:
Of the 14 quarterbacks with the most top-12 finishes last season, only four were drafted within the top-12 of the position last year. Two (Kirk Cousins and Ryan Fitzpatrick were actually undrafted and Blake Bortles was mainly an afterthought as the QB30).
While Aaron Rodgers and Andrew Luck were battling over not only the QB1 spot, but also the first overall pick, you could have streamed a duo such as as Alex Smith and Ryan Fitzpatrick at a fraction of the cost and wound up with more top-12 finishes (14) than Rodgers’ 9. Of course I’m cherry picking with those two, to help my prove my point. Quarterback streaming and late-round quarterback drafting is a crapshoot. While Smith and Fitzpatrick show the highpoint of such a strategy, you could have easily drafted and streamed a duo like Teddy Bridgewater and Sam Bradford, who combined for six top-12 finishes.
When it comes to steaming in 2QB leagues we want you to keep an open mind and try to remember that a “bad” quarterback can still have a good fantasy performance. Like EJ Manuel in Week 6 (20.72 fantasy points, QB10). It won’t always turn into a horror show like Nick Foles in Week 3.
What to Look for When Streaming Your QB2
Quarterback streaming is not an exact science, there will obviously be hits and misses. But if you put in the time to research the streaming landscape each week, you should come away with a viable streaming option. In years past, I take into account matchups and past performances, looking at the fantasy QB finishes against defenses from the weeks before (taking into account the talent level of each QB they faced) and how quarterbacks have performed leading into the week. Other factors such as Vegas point totals and whether a quarterback is playing at home or on the road also play into my streaming selections. Jim has outlined his QB streaming process and what he looks for below:
When looking for a streaming candidate, I want to put a heavy emphasis on the information Vegas publishes. They are far smarter than I am, and using their research as a crutch can tell us which offenses are primed to fare well in the upcoming weekend.
The thing we absolutely want to try to avoid is negative game script. This is when a team is trailing by a significant margin, forcing them to abandon the run and exclusively throw the football. While this will give our quarterback extra attempts, it’ll also hurt his efficiency as the defense will likely be able to get a better pass rush, get more sacks, and have better shots at forcing turnovers.
Our next guiding light would be implied team total. This is the expected points Vegas believes each team will score, a number you can find by subtracting the spread from the over/under and then dividing by two. If a streaming candidate has an implied team total over 25, then we’re living life right. If it gets below 20, then we basically want to avoid at all costs, even if we spent heavy draft capital on the player.
The one time we can accept a bit of negative game script is if the game is expected to be high scoring with an over/under hovering near 50. This means Vegas sees a lot of points in the forecast, and it’s likely an indictment of the opposing defense. We still don’t want to get too excited about a team if they are underdogs by more than five or so points, but the implied team total here would still be high enough here to warrant an extra look.
Let’s Stay Away From Lumberjack Nick Foles
Jim and I hope the advice we dish out on our podcast will help you in your 2QB streaming journey and that you don’t get Nick Foles’d.