Week 1 Fantasy Football Quarterback Streaming: Trusting Andy Dalton
Quarterback streaming isn't for everyone, but if you're in a standard league -- like a 10- or 12-team league that features just one starting quarterback each week -- then playing quarterbacks in good matchups is often doable.
Sure, you won't have the luxury of setting it and forgetting it with Andrew Luck as your quarterback, but when guys like Luck draw a tough matchup against the Buffalo Bills in Week 1, their upside can be matched by a waiver wire passer in a more generous matchup.
If you're looking for some options from the waiver wire -- regardless of league size -- then we have you covered.
Andy Dalton, Cincinnati Bengals
Last season, the Oakland Raiders ranked 25th in Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play, which indicates how many points above or below expectation a team allowed and is adjusted for schedule strength. Further, they ranked the same 25th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. A.J. Green is finally healthy, and the Raiders haven't done much to shore up their secondary problems from last season. Oakland ranked 14th in Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play, so they should be more beatable in the air than on the ground.
Andy Dalton wasn't exactly efficient last season, as his Passing NEP per drop back (0.05) ranked him 21st among 37 quarterbacks with at least 200 drop backs, but his splits against uncommon opponents and the matchup itself is hard to ignore too much. Dalton owns a 71:34 touchdown-to-interception ratio and an Adjusted Yards per Attempt mark of 7.44 in wins (Cincinnati is favored by 3.5 points) compared to 26:30 and 5.24 in losses. With Green, Tyler Eifert, and Marvin Jones all healthy, Dalton could put up a pretty big outing -- but also a pretty low floor because he's Andy Dalton.
Carson Palmer, Arizona Cardinals
Palmer is higher owned than Dalton, and for good reason, but he's still available in more than 50% of ESPN leagues, making him an option in smaller leagues. He gets to face the 29th-ranked pass defense according to our metrics and the 29th-ranked team against fantasy quarterbacks, the New Orleans Saints. Opposite cornerback Brandon Browner will be either fifth-round pick Damian Swann or former Canadian Football Leaguer Delvin Breaux, neither of whom have proven to be legitimate NFL corners quite yet.
Without Michael Floyd, the Cardinals will lose a deep threat, but John Brown and Larry Fitzgerald can still get the job done against the inexperienced corners in this positive matchup that has an over/under of 48.5 points. Don't overthink it if you can still roster Palmer.
Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills
Tyrod Taylor is not really in a great position in Week 1, but that doesn't mean that he can't put up solid quarterback numbers in deep leagues. Last year, the Indianapolis Colts ranked 13th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. They were also 13th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks. That's not unbeatable, but it's not great.
Vontae Davis will likely trail Sammy Watkins, something Davis will do more of this season, and that's not great news for Taylor. LeSean McCoy is banged up with a hamstring injury, and again, that's just one of the few weapons that the Bills have on offense that will be limited. Still, Taylor makes a bit of sense because of his rushing ability. Our algorithms project him for about 28 rushing yards. If he reaches the higher end of that projection and exceeds it even slightly, he's basically replacing a passing touchdown with four points on the ground.
As a minimum-salary play on FanDuel, he opens up a lot of space for the rest of your roster.
Kirk Cousins, Washington Redskins
Kirk Cousins has earned a starting quarterback position in the NFL. He's playing the Miami Dolphins, a team that seems to have a scary defense in the works. If you're really in a quarterback bind, Cousins can make things work. Here's why.
Last year, the Dolphins ranked 19th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play. They were ninth against fantasy quarterbacks. They ranked 22nd in per-play rushing defense, according to our metrics, and they brought in Ndamukong Suh, who anchored the league's best run defense -- Detroit's -0.19 Adjusted Defensive Rushing NEP per play was about as far ahead of second-place Baltimore's (-0.11) as Balitmore was from 11th-place San Francisco (-0.03). Washington is probably going to have a heap of trouble running the ball.
At cornerback for Miami, Jamar Taylor is questionable for Week 1 with a hamstring injury, leaving Brent Grimes and Brice McCain the likely starting cornerbacks on Sunday. The whole trio was beatable in terms of fantasy points allowed per route faced last year, so Cousins -- as a 3.5-point home underdog -- makes sense from a potential game script perspective.