We saw just how valuable it can be to properly stream quarterbacks last week, as five waiver wire quarterbacks scored in the top 12 at the position in standard scoring. Some, such as Andy Dalton and Terrelle Pryor, continue to put up mid-QB1 numbers every week, but are still being overlooked and left on the waiver wire waiting for a savvy owner to grab them.
Waiver wire quarterbacking will be at a premium this week, as three every week starters, including the top two at the position in Peyton Manning and Matt Stafford, are on bye. But luckily for us, there are five great streaming options for Week 8 that present low floors and boast even greater upside.
Andy Dalton (Owned in 56.6% of ESPN.com leagues)
It is well known by now that Dalton is a mediocre talent at quarterback, with average athleticism and sub-par arm strength. But this doesn’t mean he can’t continue his dominance from the past three weeks and instantly help your fantasy team. Dalton has put up at least 325 yards and 3 touchdowns in each game since Week 6, averaging 27.9 fantasy points during that span, a number that no quarterback has come close to. Ranking 7th in the NFL in our pass net expected points metric, The Red Rifle has been a solid quarterback over the last few weeks.
He also has a solid, if not overrated matchup this week against the Dolphins. Miami only allows 14.4 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, but when adjusting for schedule, they rank 21st in the league at defending the pass. With an improving arsenal of weapons, Dalton should be able to exploit the Dolphins pass defense and continue his success while posting QB1 numbers this week.
Jake Locker (Owned in 12.4%)
Perhaps the most overlooked player that is this wildly available, Locker needs to be added in every league as soon as possible. In the past four games he has played, Locker has averaged over 21 fantasy points per game, the sixth-most points for quarterbacks. His fantasy success is predicated not only on his rushing ability, where he averages about 30 yards per contest, but how efficient he is. In five starts this season, Locker has a touchdown to interception ratio of 8:1.
But what makes Locker almost a lock for QB1 production is the matchup. The Titans play the Rams this week, who have the fourth-worst pass defense in the league when adjusting for schedule. Due to their soft zone coverage and tendency to play way off receivers, the Rams allow the fourth-most yards per attempt in the league at 7.7. I’d expect Locker to hit his favorite target Kendall Wright for some big plays this week in route to another solid fantasy game on Sunday. Get Locker for this week, but keep him for an insanely quarterback-friendly schedule the rest of the year.
Terrelle Pryor (Owned in 30.0%)
Last week wasn’t the most inspiring performance for those who believed in Pryor’s improved passing ability, as he was only able to muster up 88 yards and threw two interceptions. However, the athletic specimen proved why he is so valuable in fantasy, with 106 yards rushing and a touchdown. While most of it came on one run, Pryor still provides QB1 upside each week with his game-changing rushing ability. Prior (no pun intended) to last week, Pryor had thrown for at least 215 yards in all but one game, so he should be able to bounce back through the air.
It is a common theory that running quarterbacks are immune to tough matchups, as seen by Pryor, but they can still excel in the easy ones. Enter the Eagles. When adjusted for schedule, the Eagles are the second-worst pass defense in the NFL according to our Pass NEP numbers, and that has resulted in opposing signal-callers to put up an average of 18.8 points per game against them. With little risk due to his high floor, Pryor should be a instilled in all lineups in what will likely be a big game for the Raider.
Alex Smith (Owned in 68.4%)
Smith seems to show up here every week, but its not by accident. The league’s most talked about “game manager” has provided consistent low-end QB1 value for those who stream him, as he is the 11th-highest scoring quarterback through Week 8. When plugging in Smith, another middling talent that ranks 17th at the position in Pass NEP, it is pretty reasonable to expect a solid 250 yards passing, 30 yards rushing, and two touchdowns with limited turnovers. That’s what makes Smith a consistent waiver wire quarterback, but he lacks the upside of the three before him.
However, Smith may have that kind of elite upside this week against Buffalo. The Bills provide one of the best matchups a quarterback can ask for, allowing the fourth-most fantasy points per game to the position at 19.4. Throw in the fact that Bills secondary has given up 11 touchdowns the past three weeks, and Smith could be in for his best week of the year.
Josh McCown (Owned in 0.7%)
This isn’t the best week for those in need of a widely-available flier, as most of streamable quarterbacks are either due for very good weeks or are straight up unplayable. But Jay Cutler, McCown played admirably in his 21 pass attempts against Washington, even putting up 15.5 fantasy points in the process. He actually was so efficient in his limited snaps that his NEP/pass would be the highest in the NFL at .56 *small sample alert*. While that kind of play in unsustainable, McCown did show he can keep this offense afloat, and head coach Marc Trestman should be able to mask his quarterbacks deficiencies and maximize his strengths.
But as we all know, sometimes talent isn’t necessary to be a good waiver wire quarterback, especially when you have a juicy matchup against one of the NFL’s worst pass defenses. The Bears play the Packers this week in a likely shootout, one that will benefit McCown. Green Bay’s secondary has been improving throughout the season, but still comes out as the 25th-ranked pass defense when adjusting for schedule. This has caused them to allow over 18 fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks, a number McCown has a good chance of reaching this week.