Quarterback Streaming Recap: The All-Stream Team
Seemingly every year in the NFL is “the year of the quarterback", and 2013 was no exception. Passing records were broken with ease, and we witnessed perhaps the greatest quarterbacking season in NFL history in Peyton Manning. If this season taught us anything, it’s how important quarterbacks are to fantasy football, and that we need to take them early in next year’s drafts. Right?
Actually, the opposite is true. If anything, this season taught us that the quarterback position is as deep and talented as it's ever been, and that needs to be exploited in fantasy. Long gone are the days of selecting a signal-caller in the early rounds, as there are just so many to be had at the end of your draft or on the waiver wire for a fraction of the cost.
That’s why I wrote Waiver Wire Quarterback throughout the season, to help identify the values left behind in this quarterback quagmire. While there were some duds along the way, hopefully all the success stories of quarterback streaming this year will help alter your strategy next year when it comes to football’s most vital position.
The All-Stream Team
Philip Rivers - After perhaps his worst season in 2012, Rivers bounced back in a very big way in 2013 under new head coach Mike McCoy. Rivers was the 24th quarterback taken in drafts this year, which in retrospect looks like highway robbery. You likely had to scoop him up in the first couple weeks, as Rivers started the season’s first four weeks with three games above 23 standard fantasy points. But if you were able to snag him, you were rewarded handsomely, as Rivers finished 2013 as the sixth-highest scoring quarterback.
Nick Foles - Michael Vick started the season off with a bang in Chip Kelley’s never-before-seen offense, but second year quarterback Nick Foles was the one who ended up being a fantasy juggernaut. Foles took over the starting job halfway through Week 5 and never looked back, scoring at least 16 points in every game aside from Week 7.
But he also had elite upside all year, posting three games above 30 points, including Week 9’s 45.6-point effort on the back of seven touchdowns against Oakland. Sadly, savvy streamers will likely pass on Foles next year, as only four quarterbacks finished with a higher Passing Net Expecting Points, meaning Foles will cost a pretty penny in drafts.
Alex Smith - Streaming Smith was quite the roller coaster this season, but there was value to be had. The games most glorified game manager had four weeks below 10 fantasy points, but if you played your cards right, you started Smith during his seven weeks when he posted over 20 fantasy points, all top 12 performances. Andy Reid helped the former first overall pick have his best season of his career, and he will likely have similar stream value next year as Smith finished as the 13th-best quarterback.
Josh McCown/Jay Cutler - In Trestman we trust. It didn’t matter who started at quarterback for the Bears each week, as we could routinely expect mid-QB1 numbers week in and week out. Cutler, drafted 21st among quarterbacks, started the year consistently posting QB1 numbers, but the real magic started when journey-man Josh McCown took over.
McCown thrived in Trestman’s quarterback-friendly system over the course of his five starts, posting at least 18.5 fantasy points four times including a 39.5-point game against Dallas. In total, he finished with four top-12 performances, the same as Joe Flacco. McCown performed so well, ranking second in the NFL in Passing NEP per pass, that the Bears front office actually considered keeping him instead of Cutler for the future. However, Cutler got the contract, and will be a very intriguing option late in drafts next year.
Terrelle Pryor - Pryor's deficiencies as a passer are well known, as the former Buckeye’s Passing NEP per pass of -.09 ranked 34th at the position. But Pryor was fantasy lightning in a bottle to begin the year. He had a touchdown-to-interception ratio of 1:2 over his first eight games, but still posted five games of over 16 fantasy points over that span thanks to his game-changing running ability. With averages of 7.3 carries and 63 yards per game, Pryor had a safety net that no other fantasy quarterback could provide, which made him a low-end QB1 for the season’s first half when he actually did start.
Ryan Fitzpatrick - Titans quarterback Jake Locker was a streaming favorite until his injury in Week 10, but Fitzpatrick quickly filled that hole in streamers hearts. With his underrated rushing ability and Passing NEP per pass rank of 12, Fitzmagic proved to be a more than viable starting quarterback towards the end of the season, posting five games of at least 15 points in a six game span.