Waiver Wire Quarterback: Week 7

Is your quarterback a bust, hurt, or on a bye? These are the best streaming options for Week 7.

Many long time fantasy footballers refute the strategy of quarterback streaming, citing the argument of how consistent the elite quarterbacks are on a year to year basis. While this narrative holds true some years, one is much more likely to win their league playing waiver wire quarterback and striking gold with mid-round guys like Torrey Smith or Gio Bernard than using that valuable pick on a bust like Russell Wilson.

This proved more evident than ever during Week 6, as waiver wire quarterbacks like Nick Foles, Andy Dalton, and Thad Lewis were top-5 scorers among passers in standard leagues. So what if you have Drew Brees on a bye this week? Are you scared to play Matt Ryan without his number one option? Or are you just tired of watching Tom Brady put up duds? Easy solution: hit the waiver wire and stream away!

Top-10 Upside

Jay Cutler (owned in 84% of leagues)

If “Smokin Jay” is still unowned in your league, there is likely a cop outside your house ready to arrest you; that's a crime. Cutler has done nothing but exceed expectations in Marc Trestman’s offense, posting a passing net expected points (NEP) of 21.03, ranking 10th at the position. NEP is a metric we use here at numberFire to show how many points a player is adding to his team compared to a player in a similar situation. This is translating directly to Cutler’s fantasy value as he is the number six quarterback this far into the season.

If you read this column last week and streamed the Bears quarterback, you certainly enjoyed his 20.5 points. Expect Cutler to put up similar, if not more, points against the Redskins this week. While improving, the Redskins are still ranked 24th in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. This will likely be Cutler’s last appearance on Waiver Wire Quarterback, as he is this week’s top streaming option and a top-10 fantasy quarterback here on out.

Nick Foles (owned in 2.6% of leagues)

Whoa. How can someone owned in less leagues than Mikel Leshoure, who has all of .9 fantasy points on the year, have top-10 upside? Because according to our passing NEP per pass metric, Foles has been the second best quarterback in the league. This may scream of a small sample, as Foles has only 25 percent of the attempts of Peyton Manning, the league leader in the category. But when watching Foles, his play speaks for itself.

Surrounded by his explosive weapons, the sophomore quarterback threw for just under 300 yards and piled up four total touchdowns (one rushing), executing Chip Kelly’s high-tempo offense to perfection. Foles has scored 46 fantasy points the past six quarters he has started, a number that extrapolates to the second-highest fantasy points per game in the league. When going up against the worst defense in the NFL against opposing fantasy quarterbacks in the Dallas Cowboys, expect the big numbers to continue.

Note: while it’s looking like injured starter Michael Vick will be sidelined again this week, check the injury reports before kickoff if rolling with Foles.

Solid Starts

Eli Manning (90%)

Hold on I’ll give you a second to clean your vomit… All good? OK. Everyone knows that while his brother is trying to break the touchdown record, Eli is on pace to shatter the interception record. The Giants are off to a 0-6 start, and they also lost uber-talented running back David Wilson for 3-4 weeks. Wait, why did I put Eli here? Oh yeah, the matchup.

The younger Manning has proven this year that he can put up solid point totals against terrible defenses, as he did against the Cowboys and Eagles averaging 22.1 points per game in those two matchups. This week, the Giants take a trip up to Minnesota to take on the Vikings. The Vikings are owners of the 25th-ranked pass defense in the NFL according to our defensive pass NEP metric, allowing 38.40 more points through the air compared to an average team. This has allowed opposing quarterbacks to compile over 20 fantasy points per game against this defense.

The stars are set for Eli to have one of his best games of the year, although he could implode and throw seven interceptions. But I’m an optimist.

Ryan Tannehill (14.1%)

The Dolphins are 3-2, have the third-highest pass to run ratio in the league at 2.17, and invested big bucks in wide receiver Mike Wallace over the offseason. Seems like second-year quarterback Ryan Tannehill should be posting some pretty solid numbers. But instead, the former Aggie isn’t even in the top 15 among quarterbacks in points per game. It might be the lack of a running game, or the absence of a connection with Wallace, but last week’s bye should help those issues.

This week’s matchup against the Bills should aid him as well, making Tannehill a viable waiver wire quarterback. Stud defensive backs Jairus Byrd and Stephon Gilmore returned to the Bills last week, but their impact was hardly felt. In fact, the Buffalo’s pass defense had its worst outing of the season, allowing 25.2 points to Andy Dalton. That’s why I’d expect Tannehill to have success through the air this week, as well as Dolphin’s Offensive Coordinator Mike Sherman looking to avoid running into the league’s third-best run defense, according to our defensive rush NEP metric.

Desperation Plays

Josh Freeman (3.9%)

It should be said at this point that Freeman has not yet been named the starter for Week 7, but all reports indicate him making his debut on Monday Night Football. If so, Freeman could be a solid stream option. While Freeman sits only ahead of Blaine Gabbert in NEP per pass, two outside factors should help the Vikes’ quarterback and his fantasy value.

The first one being the vast improvement in his team’s ability to run the ball. Freeman goes from playing with the Buccaneer’s 19th-most efficient run game in terms of rushing NEP, to the 5th-most efficient in the Vikings. A potent run game will indubitably help Freeman, as it does most quarterbacks.

Freeman should also experience relative success this week due to his cake-walk of a matchup. The Giants allow the second-most points to opposing quarterbacks at 22.9 per game, having given up at least two touchdowns every game. Freeman might prove to be the same guy he’s been all year, but the situation is set for a solid game.

Thad Lewis (.1%)

Replacing injured starter E.J. Manuel, Lewis played admirably for the Bills, almost leading them to a home win against the Bengals. But what was even more shocking was his top-5 fantasy performance last week. Thad fit right into Doug Marrone’s dink-and-dunk offense, completing almost 60% of his passes for 216 yards. But the real fantasy value came from his rushing ability.

The Duke product was utilized in read-option packages, totaling seven rushes for 17 yards and a touchdown. I’d expect Lewis to average more than 2.4 yards per carry this week, and a rushing touchdown could once again vault him to a top-10 week scoring wise.