Week 4 Fantasy Football Quarterback Streaming: Bortles Combat
Streaming quarterbacks in fantasy football becomes more difficult this weekend as bye weeks begin across the NFL. Several teams will be sitting at home, watching this week's games, giving us fewer games and matchups to exploit.
Add to that the unpredictability of rookie quarterbacks, who have no NFL data to analyze and are often overvalued due to their "shiny new" status in the league, and this could be a seriously headache-inducing week for quarterback streamers. But let's get to it, with a look at some of these questionable starters.
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
It's a very, very small sample size, but after only 25 drop backs in his rookie season, Blake Bortles has nearly matched Jay Cutler's Net Expected Points (NEP) total over the first three games, spanning 128 drop backs. The UCF product stepped into the fold against the Colts and played fairly well against their porous defense, even running a couple of times for productive gains.
This week, Bortles and the Jags take on the Chargers, who allowed a big game to Carson Palmer in Week 1, and were one of the worst passing defenses a year ago according to our NEP data. They've improved to the middle of the pack this year, but there are definitely still vulnerabilities in their defense. Jacksonville seems to be getting healthier at the skill positions on offense, and Bortles handles pressure better than Chad Henne, so expect a solid starting debut from the third overall pick in this year's draft.
Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings
Teddy Bridgewater may be the best streaming option this week, making his first NFL start at home against the Atlanta Falcons. So far this season, Atlanta allowed Drew Brees to go for 300 yards and a score, then got demolished by the Bengals and didn't have to defend the pass (because their run defense allowed Cincy to rush at will), and then were gifted a victory by the hopeless Buccaneers.
Bridgewater won't be under a lot of pressure from a lacking Atlanta pass rush, and even if he is pressured, he's athletic enough to take off and run (and provide Konami Code points for your fantasy team). No team was worse against the pass last season than the Falcons, so don't buy into their "surprising start" against opposing quarterbacks this season, as they've run into the perfect storm of bad quarterback play and uncompetitive games.
Tennessee's Starting Quarterback
Jake Locker has already fooled us a couple of times this season, promising to provide a viable streaming option, only to disappoint in the end. But we'll go back to the well one more time, as the Titans take on the Colts this weekend.
The Colts have the fourth-worst defense against the pass so far this season according to our data, and allowed Blake Bortles to post solid numbers in his debut last week. They've given up 20 or more fantasy points to quarterbacks every week, and will likely do so again this week.
But as is usually the case, Jake Locker is injured, and his status for Sunday is in doubt. Even if he doesn't start, feel free to pick up and stream the starter for the Titans, likely to be career clipboard holder Charlie Whitehurst. But don't expect quite as much from Whitehurst, who has only four career starts in the NFL and hasn't thrown a pass in a regular season game since 2011.
Mike Glennon, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
This is a tough call for me to make, as I'm a Buccaneers fan but I don't think Mike Glennon is all that good. Our numbers agree, as he was one of only 10 quarterbacks to drop back to pass 300 or more times last year and finish with a negative Passing NEP.
But the Steelers are on the schedule for the Buccaneers this weekend, and they have the ninth-worst passing defense, per our metrics. Combine that with the Bucs passing defense, which ranks dead last, and this game may have some points on the board by the end of four quarters.
Glennon tends to struggle in second halves of games and hasn't done well against good defenses, but he does have some solid performances under his belt against unimpressive opposition. This weekend provides him another chance to pad his statistics (assuming he starts, with Josh McCown sitting out with a thumb injury).
Derek Carr, Oakland Raiders
We're really scraping the bottom of the barrel here, as I'm now recommending to start a rookie quarterback who has the second-worst Passing NEP in the NFL so far this season against a top-10 passing defense. Why would I do such a thing?
Last week, Alex Smith posted three touchdown passes against the Dolphins, earning him a solid day overall despite limited yardage and overall volume. These three touchdowns came in what would be a second blowout loss for the Dolphins, who were kicked around by Buffalo a week earlier.
So this game between the Dolphins and Raiders should be competitive, which leaves the door open for Derek Carr to post some decent numbers. He proved in Week 2 that he's a capable runner, and he proved in Week 1 that when facing "not the Patriots," he can manage an offense and score touchdowns through the air.
Consider this a last resort option, but when bye weeks hit and options thin out, sometimes you have to try to get ahead of the trend rather than wait for a trend to develop.