Week 9 Fantasy Football Quarterback Streaming: Comeback Candidates
In Week 9, six NFL teams are out on bye: Seattle, Detroit, Kansas City, Houston, Baltimore, and Arizona.
That's a fairly long list of streamable quarterbacks who are off the list for the weekend.
Fortunately, there are a few comeback candidates (in various degrees) who are set up for fantasy production at the quarterback position this week.
Jay Cutler, Chicago Bears
If you're a regular reader of this column and have a good memory, this pick will come as no surprise. Cutler was our poster boy for two straight weeks. Before waivers cleared after Week 8, Jay Cutler was owned in just 20.0 percent of ESPN.com leagues. Whatever the reason, nobody is taking notice of his fantasy performance. He has posted 17 or more fantasy points in four straight games. With the slew of injuries to running backs and receivers, Cutler probably won't be a popular waiver claim, so it's safe to think he's going to be a streaming target.
The San Diego Chargers rank 24th in the league in Adjusted Defensive Passing Net Expected Points (NEP) per play, which compares a team's passing defense to expectation-level. They're a pretty middle-of-the-road secondary at defending the fantasy passer as well (they rank 17th). The loss of Matt Forte won't necessarily help, but Jeremy Langford has been roughly a replacement-level rusher in a small sample this year, and the Chargers are a bottom-five run defense, according to our metrics, as well. With Alshon Jeffery and Martellus Bennett, Cutler still has enough weapons to post fantasy points in this matchup.
Kirk Cousins, Washington
Kirk Cousins' comeback comes in the form of returning from a bye week. Cousins' last contest was magical: 317 yards and 3 touchdowns with a rushing score on top. It all led to Internet history. His metrics are okay, too. His Passing NEP (29.31) ranked 14th among all quarterbacks after his most recent game, and his Passing NEP per drop back (0.10) also ranked 14th among 32 passers with at least 100 drop backs.
New England had ranked 27th in the league in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks (including a stifling of Brandon Weeden) before limiting Ryan Tannehill to 300 yards and 2 interceptions on a short week last Thursday. Still, New England has shown they are susceptible to the pass. Washington is 16th in the league in pass play percentage but has passed at the fourth-highest rate in the league during away contests. It probably won't be pretty, but the volume should be there, and he does get DeSean Jackson back, too.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
The Tampa Bay Buccaneers could also get some receiving help back from injury: Vincent Jackson and Austin Seferian-Jenkins. That could certainly help Jameis Winston continue his solid fantasy production. Winston has failed to fall shy of 12 fantasy points yet this year, and he's been better than 19 points in back-to-back games, though the second was buoyed by a rushing score. Still, a matchup with the New York Giants, who ranked 15th in the league in Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play and 11th in fantasy points allowed to quarterbacks before Drew Brees demolished them in Week 8, is solid if he gets his receivers back to take pressure off of Mike Evans.
There's a chance Jason Pierre-Paul plays this week, and if he were to go and the Bucs' weapons were limited, then pump the brakes on Winston a bit. But he's been offering a solid floor either way despite his turnovers this year.
Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
Again, speaking of coming back from injury, Marcus Mariota is set to return in Week 9 against the New Orleans Saints, who, well, can give up plenty of passing numbers. Eli Manning torched them for 6 touchdowns and 350 yards last week, and their Adjusted Defensive Passing NEP per play rank dropped from 26th to 31st.
Mariota wasn't good in his two most recent starts, and his metrics -- his Passing NEP of 7.27 ranked 24th among quarterbacks after his most recent game -- are pretty gross, too. But a matchup with the Saints could help right the ship for the rookie. His biggest problem might be his own pass catchers.