Week 15 Fantasy Football Quarterback Streaming: The Johnny Football Era Begins
The Johnny Football era has begun in Cleveland. Fantasy players, react accordingly.
Jay Glazer of FOX Sports reported that the Browns made the decision to go with the exciting and polarizing rookie after Brian Hoyer's continued struggles under center. Last week's game against a Vontae Davis-less Colts defense was the last straw for the veteran quarterback, as his inability to move the ball on a defense that allowed Colt McCoy to be fantasy relevant was enough to crack even the most conservative of coaches.
We've discussed the merits of rushing quarterbacks quite a few times on this website, but if you're new to numberFire or want a refresher course, you can check out the original "Konami Code" article which shed light on how standard fantasy scoring is broken by running quarterbacks.
There are other streaming options at the quarterback position this week, but none of them come close to Johnny Manziel.
Johnny Manziel, Cleveland Browns
The Cincinnati Bengals are on the schedule for Manziel and the Browns this week, which may not seem like an ideal matchup at a quick glance. The Bengals rank 12th against the pass according to numberFire's Net Expected Points (NEP) data, and have done a good job of shutting down below-average quarterbacks this season.
But they have been prone to quarterbacks who run the ball, giving up 107 yards and a touchdown to Cam Newton, and 50 yards on only six carries to Jake Locker. Matt Ryan even ran for 28 yards against the Cincy defense, which ranks 30th against the run according to our data.
Manziel is a risk, as he'll be facing a defensive opponent more than capable of shutting him out through the air. But if he runs for 80 yards, which is well within reach considering his skill set, that's the equivalent of two passing touchdowns. He'd only need to find the end zone once and not turn the ball over a ridiculous amount of times to provide value as a streaming option, and the upside is tremendous with a good chance of him finding the end zone on the ground once or twice for six points a piece.
If you have free agent auction budget money left, spend it all on Manziel. If you have been saving the top spot in the waiver order, use it on Manziel. Games against the Panthers and Ravens are next on the schedule for Cleveland, so if your league plays into weeks 16 and 17, Manziel is a must-own at this point thanks to those good matchups.
Jake Locker, Tennessee Titans
Did someone already claim Manziel after his cameo in Week 13? Don't worry at all. You can get the next best thing, in a better matchup, by picking up Jake Locker.
I mention Locker above as one of the quarterbacks to run well against the Bengals, and he picked up where he left off when filling in for Zach Mettenberger in Week 14. He broke off a couple of nice runs and moved the ball in garbage time, earning a decent chunk of fantasy points for such a short spell in the game.
He's not the same sort of running threat as Manziel, but with 84 yards and a touchdown on the ground over his last two starts, he's more than capable of giving himself a nice fantasy floor to go with one of the best matchups in football for a quarterback. The Jets have allowed 16 or more fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks in every road game this season, and rank 23rd in our pass defense rankings.
Locker might actually be a bit safer than Manziel, since we know he's capable of running an NFL offense, but his upside doesn't match that of Johnny Football. Either way, Locker is a top streaming option this week, especially when we consider the lack of other viable options.
Kyle Orton, Buffalo Bills
Remember what I said about a lack of viable options? The fact that Kyle Orton shows up on this list should reveal just how thin the streaming market is this week.
Orton and the Bills host the Packers in Week 15, which will put him in a similar situation to the one he was in this past week against Denver, or in Week 6 against New England. Playing against a heavily favored opponent with a high-powered offense means tons of passing attempts for Orton, who may trip and fall into fantasy relevance based on opportunity alone.
He has 4 interceptions over his last two games, but also has 14 touchdown throws in nine starts. That's competent enough to move the ball against Green Bay, who rank 22nd against the pass according to our data, and have allowed 17 or more points to fantasy quarterbacks in three straight games and 17 or more in every road game apart from Matthew Stafford's Week 3 disaster.
You should try to get either of the quarterbacks listed above before Orton, but if you have no other choice, Orton is definitely the "next best" option this weekend.
Yes, there's a section called "other options" this week, because there are just no more strong options to stream. Here are a couple of names to consider.
Eli Manning - The Giants face Washington this week, who have allowed the most points per game to opposing quarterbacks, and rank last in pass defense in the league by a wide margin. They've allowed 250 yards or two scores in every game since Week 2, including Eli's 300/4/1 performance in the first bout between these teams. But this is Eli Manning we're talking about, so tread lightly. He's turned the ball over quite a bit over the past few weeks, and has four games with only one touchdown in his last five.
Ryan Fitzpatrick - Here's your checklist for using Ryan Fitzpatrick this week in fantasy football:
Is Vontae Davis playing for the Colts? Yes: Do not start Fitzpatrick No: Start Fitzpatrick
When Davis doesn't suit up for Indy, it takes Brian Hoyer-levels of horrible to not move the ball against them. Fitzpatrick is more than capable of having a big day against a Davis-less Colts defense.
Blake Bortles - Bortles has rushed for over 100 yards over his last three games, and faces our 20th ranked pass defense that continues to get thinner and thinner due to injuries. The Ravens have allowed 20 or more fantasy points to quarterbacks in four of their last six games, and gave up 16 or more to Mike Glennon, Brian Hoyer and Andy Dalton (twice!). They're a good matchup for the inconsistent Bortles.