Week 3 Fantasy Football Quarterback Streaming: EJ Manuel's Time to Shine?
If you're struggling through two weeks of the 2014 fantasy football season, don't worry. The first couple of weeks are always difficult, as we scope out how offseason changes (or lack thereof) have impacted teams around the league. But with two weeks of data under our belts, it's time to look ahead to Week 3.
And if you're streaming quarterbacks, the extra data from Week 2 starts to paint a picture of which defenses to target for matchups, and which ones may be improved or are worth avoiding.
Here are some Week 3 quarterback streaming picks, starting with a Thursday night option that may surprise you.
Josh McCown, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
If you've spent any time reading the comment sections or Twitter accounts in Tampa lately, you'd believe that Josh McCown was the worst quarterback in the history of the NFL, and worthy of benching for literally anyone with athletic ability.
And while our data here at numberFire wasn't a huge fan of his Week 1 performance against Carolina, his Week 2 showing against St. Louis was much improved, especially considering his two rushing touchdowns in the contest.
Week 3 brings a date with Atlanta, who are the fourth-worst passing defense so far this year according to our Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) metric. The Falcons can't pressure quarterbacks at all, something that has caused McCown problems so far this year, and don't have the talent at corner to match up with Vincent Jackson and Mike Evans.
The Bucs may not throw a ton, but when they do, McCown should be able to move the ball well. Add in his rushing ability, and you could do a lot worse than Josh McCown this week in fake football.
E.J. Manuel, Buffalo Bills
Last season, E.J. Manuel was the second-worst quarterback to drop back to pass more than 100 times according to our NEP data, and his future was already looking a bit grim, despite only being a rookie.
But as of this moment, he sits in the 10th position in our Passing NEP rankings, an obvious step forward for the former first-round pick. He hasn't been quite as effective of a runner this year as he was last year, but as long as fantasy points are being scored, we're alright with less efficient running from a quarterback. And efficiency won't matter at all if he finds the end zone on the ground, something he's done in three of the last five games he's started.
The Bills take on the Chargers this week, who were seventh from the bottom in passing defense last year, and have started this year as the 12th worst team in our NEP ranks. Manuel has looked good, and is developing chemistry with Sammy Watkins, which will help him post a solid day for fantasy owners against the San Diego.
Ryan Fitzpatrick, Houston Texans
The Giants are a sinking ship this season, and are the 28th-ranked team in the league according to our numbers-driven power rankings. Their passing defense is ranked 27th in the league at the moment, and they face the Houston Texans in Week 3. This is a bigger test for New York than you might think.
That's because Ryan Fitzpatrick has the highest per drop back NEP average of any starting quarterback in the league. Yes, better than Peyton Manning, better than Andy Dalton, and better than Philip Rivers.
Fitzpatrick is also a threat to run, giving him more of a boost in fantasy football value. The Houston quarterback may not throw a lot, as the Texans seek to slow the game down and run out the clock in what could be a surprising third win, but Fitzpatrick will still deliver a touchdown or two against the porous New York defense.
Ryan Tannehill, Miami Dolphins
Ryan Tannehill has been bad this season. There's no way to put that gently. But he has run up against two decent opponents through two weeks (the Patriots and Bills), and gets a bit of a break this week with a game against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Andy Reid's team is second-worst against the pass so far this year according to our data, and with Knowshon Moreno sidelined, it's possible that the Dolphins could throw more than usual, giving Tannehill a volume bonus in addition to a solid matchup. He's already thrown 32 and 49 passes in his first two games under center this season, so 40 to 50 throws (and 40 to 50 chances at fantasy points) is a very reasonable expectation.
I would aim for any of the three options above before resigning myself to Tannehill this weekend, but you certainly can't go wrong with a player going against the Chiefs on offense this season, as strange as that may be to hear.
Chad Henne, Jacksonville Jaguars
If you're in a deep league and have quarterback issues, or otherwise like to live life on the edge and take big risks, Chad Henne is on the board as a streamable quarterback this week against the Colts. So far this season, no defense has been worse against the pass than Indianapolis, and Henne showed for two quarters - in Week 1 - that he can "sort of facilitate" an offense against weak opposition.
There will be plenty of garbage time in this game, as well, as the Jags figure to not be that competitive, so if you're desperate and willing to gamble, Henne might be worth a shot. This is "break glass in case of emergency" level stuff, but sometimes, fantasy football can put you in situations where you must act boldly and take a risk.
If you choose this option, godspeed, and good luck.