Since Alex Gelhar already masterfully identified some of the top waiver wire targets ahead of Week 2, and Matt Harmon examined top deep league adds in his deep dive, it’s my job to provide some streaming candidates at quarterback, tight end and defense for the upcoming slate of games. Keep in mind, most of these players/teams are bottom-of-the-barrel targets for deep leagues, and I’m not saying they’re going to be top scorers at their position, but they should do enough to keep your team competitive in Week 2 if you need some assistance. So, let’s get to it.
*Ownership percentage data from NFL.com fantasy leagues.
Jared Goff, Los Angeles Rams | 1.2% owned: I had listed Jared Goff in this space ahead of his Week 1 matchup against the Colts defense, and he came through for anyone bold enough to stream him, with 16.44 fantasy points in standard scoring. In his first career NFL win, Goff completed 21 passes for 306 yards and a score and didn’t throw a single pick. The call to stream him in Week 1 was based mostly on the matchup, but his performance proved that there’s reason to believe he can be a consistent streaming option going forward, even in matchups that are less of a dream scenario.
Goff faces Washington in Week 2 at home in Los Angeles. I targeted the Redskins defense last week when I suggested Carson Wentz as a streamer and that ended up working out too. Washington’s pass defense, aside from Josh Norman, was less than spectacular in 2016 and the unit again allowed 356 total yards to the Eagles, 298 of which were passing yards from the hand of Wentz.
There’s a chance Norman shadows Sammy Watkins in Week 2, which could limit Goff’s upside a bit. But we’re talking about streamers here, you know, guys who might finish top-12 or top-15. So we’re not seeking out a crazy total. The Rams have supplied their quarterback with solid weapons including rookie Cooper Kupp, Robert Woods and of course running back Todd Gurley who each saw at least five targets from Goff in Week 1. The second-year signal caller was less aggressive with his throws against the Colts throwing just 10.3 percent of his passes into what NextGenStats considers a tight window, compared to Goff’s 23.4 percent rate in his rookie year.
New head coach Sean McVay has clearly put his stamp on this offense and through one extremely favorable matchup, it seems to be working for the young quarterback.
Jay Cutler, Miami Dolphins | 5.2% owned: The Chargers have yet to play a Week 1 game as they take on the Denver Broncos on Monday Night Football. And Jay Cutler didn’t play in Week 1 because the Miami game was postponed for weather reasons. So we’re truly veering into the unknown here. What we do know is that Cutler seemed to have a rapport with third-year receiver DeVante Parker in the preseason which could come to fruition in regular season action seeing as Cutler called Parker a “faster Alshon Jeffery.” Not to mention other weapons in Miami like Jarvis Landry, Kenny Stills and the threat of tight end Julius Thomas in the red zone and Jay Ajayi out of the backfield. Cutler has quite an arsenal around him, potentially the best he’s had in his career.
The matchup against the Chargers is a decent one, too. Last year the team had the league’s 20th-ranked pass defense and were tied for 15th in red zone defense. Granted, the unit endured some major injuries, namely cornerback Jason Verrett to an ACL tear. Verrett, a first-round draft selection and Pro-Bowler is healthy and will be lurking in the secondary which could pose some problems for Cutler.
On the plus side, the Dolphins knew a week ahead of time that their Week 1 game was canceled, so the team shipped out to the West Coast early and by game time, will have had a full two weeks to prepare for the matchup against the Chargers. And you can bet that coach Adam Gase will be dissecting closely what Los Angeles does against his former Broncos offense to help gain some clarity on how to attack them in Week 2.
Cutler’s a shot in the dark, but there aren’t many other upside options in Week 2.
Jesse James, Pittsburgh Steelers | 3.7% owned: In Week 1, Ben Roethlisberger threw two touchdown passes. Both of them were to Jesse James. The tight end was the second-most targeted player on the team behind Antonio Brown and was second in receiving yards with 41. And per NextGenStats player participation, also known as snap count, James was on the field for more plays than Brown. Well, one more play. Not that that means much else other than James remains the clear-cut TE1 on the team despite the recent signing of Vance McDonald.
Ahead of Week 2, James is worth a look as a streaming option considering the atrocity that was the tight end position overall during the season’s opening slate. James was the only tight end with two scores and was one of just five tight ends to score all week (before the MNF games). That’s right. Just FIVE tight ends found the end zone in Week 1. Granted, James’ opponent, the Cleveland Browns, allowed the most fantasy production per game to tight ends in the entire NFL last year.
The Steelers are home in Week 2 and face a Vikings defense that allowed 877 yards to tight ends in 2016 which was middle-of-the pack for the league. We’ll see how the Vikings do against Coby Fleener and the Saints in primetime, so let’s revisit this Tuesday morning. Still, if James’ snap count remains above 80 percent and the game remains close, I can see him getting at least a few more looks in red zone situations.
Streaming tight ends in 2017: Make a wish, take a chance, make a change.
For starters, Cook saw five targets against the Titans in Week 1, which was third on the team behind Amari Cooper and Michael Crabtree. Cook tied Amari Cooper in receptions, hauling in all five of his looks for 56 yards and was on the field for 71 percent of Oakland’s plays — the same amount as Crabtree. It seemed like Cook and Derek Carr were on the same page, which is a promising sign for Cook’s value and the Raiders passing game as a whole going forward.
Cook has an ideal matchup coming up as the Raiders take on the Jets in Week 2. Last season, the Jets allowed double-digit scores to the tight end position and were a bottom-10 team in terms of fantasy points per game allowed to the position. Plus, New York just allowed 11 targets to the Bills tight ends in Week 1, with Charles Clay managing nine catches for 53 yards and a touchdown.
Oakland Raiders D/ST | 11.5% owned:It feels weird to write about the Raiders in this space, considering their defense was one of the worst in the NFL a season ago. Plus, Oakland just gave up 350 total yards and 16 points to the Titans in Week 1. This is merely a matchup play, and it’s safe to say that the Jets will likely be targeted here all season.
In Week 1 against the
Jets offense totaled just 214 yards (rookie running back
Kareem Hunt posted 246 yards from scrimmage by himself on Thursday night). New York had just 38 rushing yards and committed two giveaways, both of which were interceptions and scored just 12 points in the game. The
Jets, who will travel to the West Coast to face Oakland, have virtually zero threats on the offensive side of the ball and lack an identity in what feels like a lost season already. You can imagine that defensive star
Khalil Mack, who had three tackles against the
Titans, will have his way with New York’s less-than mediocre offense, making Oakland an upside streaming play at D/ST ahead of Week 2.
Dallas Cowboys D/ST | 10.5% owned: I suggested Dallas as a streaming defense option ahead of Week 1, and if you did decide to roll with this unit, they rewarded you with 12.00 fantasy points in NFL Fantasy standard scoring. The Cowboys defense wasn’t a powerhouse last season, but there are a few factors that came together for the strong Week 1 outing and I believe the same situation is possible for Week 2. Let’s break it down.
First, Dallas is one of the most run-heavy teams in the league, using their offensive line strength and the talented Ezekiel Elliott at running back to dominate time of possession. Dallas did just that against New York, putting the ball in Zeke’s hands a total of 29 times and overall holding the ball for 34:14 compared to the Giants‘ 25:46. The Cowboys also welcomed the healthy return of linebacker Jaylon Smith who missed all of his rookie campaign with an injury. Smith totaled seven total tackles in his NFL debut and forced a fumble.
Additionally, the Giants rolled out a completely stagnant offense sans Odell Beckham Jr. who sat out with an ankle injury. New York totaled just 35 rushing yards and couldn’t sustain a drive, putting up just three points the entire game.
In Week 2, Dallas heads to Denver to take on 2016’s 27th-ranked total offense in the Broncos. Denver owned bottom-tier rankings in rushing offense, third down conversions, red zone production and yards per play. The fact that Denver’s quarterback completion played out so deep into the preseason signals that maybe Trevor Siemian isn’t the long-term solution and merely as a stop-gap until the team can land a better option. I have little confidence in Denver’s offense making Dallas a go-to streaming D/ST option for the second straight week.