Week 7 Fantasy Football Quarterback Streaming: Rolling the Dice on Colin Kaepernick
Quarterback streaming isn't for everyone, but if you're in a standard league -- like a 10- or 12-team league that features just one starting signal caller -- grabbing productive quarterbacks who have good matchups off the waiver wire is often doable.
Sure, you won't have the luxury of setting it and forgetting it with Drew Brees as your quarterback, but when the top-end signal callers draw a tough matchup, their upside can be matched by a waiver-wire option in a more favorable situation.
If you're looking for some options from the waiver wire -- regardless of league size -- then we have you covered.
Last week, our top recommendation was Marcus Mariota, and he delivered with a huge day, totaling 27.76 fantasy points and finishing the week as QB4. It marked the fourth time in six weeks that our top streamer finished as a top-10 signal caller. If you played our top recommendation each week thus far, you'd have 123.42 points (20.57 points per game) from your quarterback spot, which is good enough to be the overall QB2, trailing only Matt Ryan. Only once this year (Week 5) has our top choice failed to score at least 16 points.
Our other two picks for Week 6 had solid real-life games, but it didn't translate to fantasy success because neither scored a touchdown. Brian Hoyer was 30 of 49 for 302 yards, finishing as QB21. Alex Smith went 19 for 22 for 222 yards, checking in as QB28.
Let's check out the streaming options for Week 7.
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
ESPN Ownership: 8.5%
I'll admit it: this is risky. But with some of the other streaming options -- who we will get to in a minute -- slightly over our soft ownership cutoff of 30% for the top spot, Colin Kaepernick makes for an intriguing play.
In his season debut last week at the Buffalo Bills, Kaepernick was the complete opposite of Smith and Hoyer -- he didn't have a very good real-life game, but he put up nice fantasy numbers. On the strength of 8 carries for 66 yards, Kaepernick finished with 17.32 points, ranking as QB14.
Considering it was his first start in quite some time and his debut in Chip Kelly's offense, the fantasy output was pretty darn good. This week, he gets a home matchup with the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who rank 25th in Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play.
The game should feature a ton of plays. Kelly's San Francisco 49ers' offense is the fastest-paced unit in the NFL, running a play every 24.52 seconds. Meanwhile, Tampa Bay is fifth in pace, snapping the ball every 26.33 seconds. More plays mean more chances to rack up fantasy points, giving every player in this game a boost in value.
Kaepernick's running ability equips him with a pretty safe floor. While the ceiling here may not be massive, a rushing touchdown is always in play.
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
ESPN Ownership: 41.9%
Mariota would be our clear-cut top streamer, but he's owned in too many leagues to qualify for the top spot. However, he's still available in nearly 60% of ESPN leagues, and you should fix that if he's on your waiver wire.
Streaming is all about matchups. Mariota scored 46.2 points through his first four games of the year, and he's reeled off 58.28 points over the past two games. The difference is the opposition. Mariota faced off with the soft defenses of the Cleveland Browns and Oakland Raiders in the last two weeks, and he gets another juicy matchup in Week 7 with a home date against the Indianapolis Colts.
The Tennessee Titans are 2.5-point favorites with a decent implied total of 25. Indy is abysmal defensively, ranking 31st in Adjusted Defensive NEP per play. They struggle against the pass and run, checking in 28th in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play and 31st in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. The Colts are a dream matchup.
As a bonus, in his brief career, Mariota has been much more active with his legs when he's playing at home. In nine home contests, he's averaging 8.68 carries and 32.8 rushing yards per game, compared to 5.67 attempts and 17.0 yards on the road.
Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
ESPN Ownership: 37.0%
Much like Mariota, Smith is a great spot this week -- at home against the New Orleans Saints -- but he's just over the 30% ownership limit.
New Orleans ranks last in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play and 26th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. Kansas City has a superb implied total of 28.25 points, the second-highest of the week.
Smith has been better at home over his career. In 63 home starts, although not all were with the Kansas City Chiefs, he's averaged 6.72 yards per attempt yards per attempt while throwing for 84 touchdowns, compared to 6.52 yards per attempt and 63 scores in 68 road games.
The fear with Smith is that Kansas City's ground attack of Spencer Ware and Jamaal Charles could run roughshod over the Saints, which could put a cap on Smith's passing volume -- thereby limiting his ceiling. With that said, if the Chiefs can move the ball well on the ground, it could result in more red zone trips for the offense, giving Smith more chances to score touchdowns.
As we touched on last week, Smith is in the midst of a heavenly run against bad defenses. After this game, he'll see the Colts, Jaguars, Carolina Panthers and Bucs. He makes for an ideal streamer over these next few weeks.