Week 6 Fantasy Football Quarterback Streaming: Jay Cutler Is Back
I don't know what's more concerning: the fact that it's already Week 6 or the fact that there aren't many quarterback streaming options to feel confident about this week.
The Rams, Cowboys, Buccaneers, and Raiders are on a bye, and well, only one of those guys (Derek Carr) is generally streamable at this point. But the matchups for other low-owned options aren't obvious opportunities, and that makes things a mite difficult this week.
There are still some solid streaming options out there, but only a few guys inspire real confidence.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
Yeah, when the King of Don't Care Land might be the most trustworthy streaming option (guys who are available in at least 30% of ESPN.com leagues, for rough reference), that says a lot about the other options. Now, Jay Cutler is actually a solid fantasy quarterback despite all of the drama that shrouded him last season. He finished just outside the top 10 at the position in fantasy points last year despite finishing as a below-average passer in terms of our Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) metric, which compares a player to expectation level. Cutler's Passing NEP (-1.24) indicated he took points off the board for the Bears last year. Sounds about right.
Anyway, Cutler is facing the Detroit Lions, who look more like your father's Lions by flirting with 0-16 than your Lions by being possible playoff contenders -- you know, if you're really young and don't recall when the Lions were atrocious before this year. The Lions rank 26th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP and are 26th in fantasy points per game allowed to quarterbacks. Before waivers clear, Cutler is available in more than 80 percent of ESPN.com leagues, so he should be a solid target where he is available.
Blake Bortles, Jacksonville Jaguars
Yup, that's where this week is taking us.
Not everybody deserves a second chance. And not everybody gets a second chance. But Blake Bortles got one, and he's doing a darn good job with it. The man the Jags hope is their franchise quarterback finished last in the league in Passing NEP (-97.97) last season. That was more than twice as bad as Derek Carr's -40.94. Bortles this year, though, is putting points on the board for the Jaguars, and that's a welcomed sight in Jacksonville.
Through five weeks of action, Bortles owns a Passing NEP of 17.87, which ranks him 16th at the position. Couple that with the arrival -- or more appropriately a continued emergence -- of both Allen Hurns and Allen Robinson, and Bortles has some real weapons he can use. And that Julius Thomas fella is back on the field, too.
The Jags face the Texans in Week 6, who rank 20th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play (though they were the top pass defense in the league last season, according to our metrics). Houston is also 27th against quarterbacks in terms of fantasy scoring. The team total is low (20.25) for the Jags, but Bortles can now put fantasy points on the board -- unlike last year.
Colin Kaepernick, San Francisco 49ers
I don't have as much trouble recommending Colin Kaepernick as others might. His rushing floor -- he had 41 or more rushing yards in the first four games -- gives him a bit of a headstart each week and can help mitigate his disaster games. He didn't have a disaster on Sunday, and he notched more than 20 fantasy points for the second time in four games.
I'm not just chasing points though (both in the sense that Kaepernick is coming off a good game and that Josh McCown lit up this Baltimore team last week). Baltimore is 13th in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play through Week 5 but are 31st against fantasy passers. There look to be a lot of low totals so far in the week, and this game (44 points) with the 49ers as 2.5-point home underdogs might not be a total fade if you're in a deeper league.
Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings
Man, what happened here? Teddy Bridgewater was starting to creep up to potential QB1 territory in fantasy drafts during the offseason. Through four games, Bridgewater has just two touchdowns and two interceptions through the air and a touchdown and a fumble on the ground. He ranks 38th in Passing NEP (-14.28), and the passing volume just isn't there for Minnesota from a week-to-week basis.
Therefore, recommending him doesn't come with much confidence even though the matchup is enticing. Kansas City ranks 22nd in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play and 32nd in fantasy points to quarterbacks. Bridgewater has twice scored more than 15 points and twice scored fewer than 9 points this season, but now Minnesota gets to come off a bye against a team that just lost its best player for the season (Jamaal Charles).
There's a chance for a low-volume game (he has two games with 24 or fewer attempts), but given the matchup and potential game script, he's worth a shot if you don't want to scrape the bottom of the quarterback streaming barrel.