No elite fake football signal caller graces our roster. So let’s construct one.
I used one of my four leagues this year to experiment with a pure streaming quarterback strategy, basing my weekly QB choices entirely on matchup, promising myself that I would never stick with one guy for the sole reason that he delivered for me the previous week. If your matchup wasn’t favorable, you were dead to me.
I’m committed to the streaming defense strategy, as you may or may not know, so I was certainly predisposed to the streaming mindset. I was ready to apply it to a position as critically important as quarterback. I knew, going in, that I could never match the season-long production of the top-five fantasy quarterbacks. I believed, however, that I could create a top-10 QB Frankenstein, made from parts of decent quarterbacks with nice matchups.
I didn’t draft a quarterback until the 11th round in this 12-team league. Waiting an eternity and a half to draft a quarterback allowed me to stockpile running backs and wide receivers, a couple of which I would trade away for a marked upgrade at tight end as the playoffs approached. Depth complicates lineup decisions, a luxury that makes many owners squirm, but come December, having more backs and receivers than you know what to do with pays dividends.
Here’s what happened in the first half of 2012. I’ll have second half results posted early next week.
Week 1 – Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens (19 points)
Flacco was temporarily set free in a temporarily fast-paced offense in late August and early September. Knowing this, and impressed with his preseason chemistry with Torrey Smith, I rolled with Joe. He was Week one’s 10th highest scoring QB.
Week 2 – Sam Bradford, QB, Rams (24 points)
This pick gave me moderate to severe heartburn all week. The Skins’ secondary appeared exposable in Week 1, as it had through most of 2011. Danny Amendola had his way with Washington safeties and linebackers, and Bradford was the fourth highest scoring QB in Week 2.
Week 3 – Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens (26 points)
I switched back to Flacco for what I expected would be a high-scoring affair against a secondary that didn’t look nearly as intimating as it does now, 15 weeks later. Flacco rewarded me with three touchdowns. He tied Matt Schaub as Week 3’s second highest scoring QB.
Week 4 – Joe Flacco, QB, Ravens (23 points)
This doesn’t appear to be the riverboat gambling streaming pledge, does it? I’ve now plugged in Flacco in three of the season’s first four games. The matchups were right, however, and Baltimore’s passing offense hadn’t yet tanked. Baltimore faced a Cleveland defense that had allowed 18.7 fantasy points per game to quarterbacks through three weeks. Flacco was the eighth highest scoring QB of Week 4, throwing for 356 yards and a score.
Week 5 – Christian Ponder, QB, Vikings (19 points)
There was a time, a long time ago, when Ponder was a viable streaming option. He had played well on a few early-season games, and Adrian Peterson had yet to hit his ungodly stride. Ponder played a Tennessee secondary that had been eviscerated in September, so I held my nose and plugged him in. Ponder was Week 5’s eighth highest scoring QB, tied with Philip Rivers.
Week 6 – Andy Dalton, QB, Bengals (22 points)
The Ginger General had shocked fantasy haters (me included) with 20+ point performances in three consecutive games, starting in Week 2. Dalton faced a Joe Haden-less Cleveland secondary in this matchup. Even on the road, I trusted Dalton would get his chances. He threw for 381 yards and three scores, ranking as Week 6’s seventh highest scoring signal caller.
Week 7 – Brandon Weeden, QB, Browns (19 points)
Weeden had been largely responsible for Dalton’s Week 6 success, forcing Dalton and the Bengals to keep up with a suddenly potent Cleveland offense. Weeden would later burn me for trusting him, but in this one, against a porous Colts’ defense, he notched 261 yards and two touchdowns. He was the week’s sixth highest scoring QB, tied with Carson Palmer.
Week 8 – Carson Palmer, QB, Raiders (15 points)
Here’s the first part of a streaming rough patch that is inherent in the strategy. We’re gambling here – informed gambles, but gambles nonetheless. Palmer had begun to emerge as garbage time royalty going into this game against the Chiefs. I knew Kansas City was incapable of building a big lead conducive to Palmer junk time goodness, but I used him anyway. He was the 10th highest scoring quarterback, tied with Drew Brees and Michael Vick.
After 8 weeks
- My Quarterback Frankenstein, at the midway point of make-believe football season, had amassed 167 fantasy points, or 20.8 points per week.
- Drew Brees, through eight weeks (which included his bye week) also had 167 points.
- Tom Brady had 165 points in that span, and he didn’t have his bye week until Week 9.
- Aaron Rodgers had 172 points at midseason, and had not yet had a bye week.
- Matthew Stafford, a consensus second round fantasy draft pick, had 133 points after eight weeks. Week 5 was the Lions’ bye week.
Next week’s follow-up on my streaming quarterback experiment will demonstrate the downside of this risky little strategy. Sometimes, it turns out, there are no tasty matchups for largely-unowned quarterbacks. It’s still a risk, I think, worth taking.