Waiver Wire Quarterback: Week 8

Six bye weeks, major injuries, and horrific play. Who's left to stream at quarterback?

Week 7 was brutal for quarterbacks. Not only did every-week starts like Philip Rivers and Tony Romo fail to crack the top-15 in standard scoring, but strong waiver wire quarterbacks like Jay Cutler, Sam Bradford and Nick Foles were injured and likely won’t see the field for the foreseeable future.

Things won’t get any easier this week, as in addition to the injuries and disappointing play of usable quarterbacks, six teams are on bye. This means scouring the waiver wire in order to stream your quarterback will be as hard as it gets this year. There aren’t many safe options this week, but you should be able to plug in one of the following gun-slingers for a solid point output.

Top-10 Upside

Terrelle Pryor (27.6%)

Similarly to Vick, owners have seemed to have forgotten about this fantasy factor. During the past two weeks, Pryor experienced a run-in with the league’s best defense in Kansas City, and a bye week. Due to Pryor’s running abilities (at least 30 yards each game) and new found composure as a pocket passer, he has top-10 upside every week.

The Ohio State product takes on the Steelers in Week 8, in what looks to be a tough matchup. Pittsburgh is allowing only 11.7 points to opposing quarterbacks this year, good enough for 3rd in the NFL. But that seems to be a bit fluky, as the Steelers rank 23rd in the league in our adjusted defensive pass NEP metric, which accounts for schedule - Pittsburgh hasn’t faced any top-10 fantasy quarterbacks. Pryor is an excellent stream this week, bringing with him a high floor and elite upside.

Solid Starts

Ben Roethlisberger (83.2%)

Winning their past two games, the Steelers seem to be playing much more efficient football over the past couple weeks, and that is due to Big Ben’s improved play. Roethlisberger has been consistently average this year, putting up between 12 and 17 fantasy points every week excluding Week 1. The Steelers quarterback has also taken better care of the ball, not turning it over at all the past two weeks despite eight in the first four. This has had a positive impact on his pass success percentage, a metric that shows what percent of his passes positively contribute towards to his team’s expected point total. Ranking 12th in the NFL, 48.31% of his passes have added positively to his team’s NEP.

In addition to his stellar play, he also has a good matchup against the Raiders. While improving throughout the year, Oakland still ranks 21st in fantasy points allowed to opposing quarterbacks. Big Ben is a good bet for a top-15 fantasy day at the game’s most important position, but lacks the top-tier upside of other streaming options.

Geno Smith (7.5%)

It might be an unwritten rule in fantasy to not start a Jets quarterback, but rookie Geno Smith could be your team’s saving grace this week if you need a waiver wire quarterback. Smith has posted at least 20 fantasy points in three of his last five games, including 20.5 last week against New England’s third-ranked pass defense according to out metrics. Geno even tied his season high with six rushing attempts last week, something that will boost his fantasy value if continued.

Taking on the Bengals this week, the Jets quarterback should also benefit from his matchup. Cincinnati has been an average pass defense thus far, ranking 18th in the league in both adjusted defensive pass NEP and points allowed to opposing fantasy quarterbacks. But after losing shutdown cornerback Leon Hall for the season, the Bengals pass defense is in shambles. They allowed a season high 26.3 fantasy points last week to the Lions, including 357 yards passing and three touchdowns. While the Jets don’t exactly replicate Detroit’s potent passing attack, Geno Smith will still be a fine streaming option at quarterback this week.

Desperation Plays

Eli Manning (89.2%)

Making his second consecutive appearance on Waiver Wire Quarterback, Eli showed progress last week. While he didn’t put up the points we all expected in an easy matchup, the other Manning completed his first game without a turnover. Playing at a competent level throughout the game, he could have a huge game if it weren't for a couple drops and a Peyton Hillis resurrection.

The main reason for optimism, however, is the matchup. Manning takes on the Eagles and their fifth-worst pass defense according adj. defensive pass NEP, the same team Eli faced during his second-highest scoring total of the season in Week 5. The Eagles defense has allowed at least 273 yards every game this year. A 300-plus yard, three-touchdown game and a top-10 week is in reach for the league leader in turnovers.

Carson Palmer (6.2%)

Well that got ugly fast. You might want to gouge your eyes out before putting Palmer into your starting lineup, but that’s why we call them desperation plays. Sitting in front of only the great Josh Freeman in the Pass NEP rankings with -38.94, Palmer has shown he can play football just about as well as an orangutan, but with slightly better dexterity in his hands. To add on to the slander, he also has thrown at least two interceptions in five consecutive games. But as we often see in fantasy, skill can sometimes be rendered irrelevant in the presence of an excellent matchup.

The Cardinals play host to, by all means, the worst defense in the NFL in the Atlanta Falcons. Combining with a total absence of a pass rush, Atlanta’s banged-up secondary lacks the ability to keep receivers in front of them, and would likely struggle to cover a sandwich with tin foil at this point. Ranking 32nd in both adj. defensive passing NEP and total adj. defensive NEP, Atlanta provides a dream matchup for quarterbacks even of the skill level of Palmer. Although I don’t see him putting up the 20.2 fantasy points that the Falcons allow to opposing quarterbacks, you could do much worse during a week with many teams looking for a waiver wire quarterback.