Week 16 Fantasy Football Quarterback Streaming: Can Kirk Cousins Do It Again?
The closer I got to it, the more my anticipation grew.
Initially, my expectations were kept in check, mainly because of my general pessimism, but I couldn't help but get excited even if I was honestly bracing for a letdown.
And then, it started. And it was awesome. It ended up better than I ever could have expected.
No, I'm not talking about Star Wars: The Force Awakens. I'm talking about Kirk Cousins' Week 15 performance.
(For real, though, that movie was dope, and it temporarily made me forget how bad the prequels are. Now I just reminded myself of those trainwrecks and am sad.)
But, you see, Cousins had some things going in his favor -- he was at home and the point spread wasn't miserable. He also had aspects going against him -- Buffalo was an average opponent against fantasy quarterbacks and a top-10 pass defense, per our Net Expected Points (NEP) metrics.
The positives in the matchup clearly outweighed the negatives on gameday, and Cousins threw for 4 touchdowns and 319 yards and also scrambled for a rushing touchdown.
That's a tall order to fill again, but Cousins -- despite hard-to-live-up-to expectations -- is one of a few waiver wire guys who can post a big game in Week 16.
Kirk Cousins, Washington
Remember when I mentioned that things weren't exactly great for Cousins entering last week? They're worse this week. His Passing Net Expected Points per drop back this year at home has been 0.35. Through Week 15, Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton both have marks of 0.35 on the season and are the two best in the league, per this metric. On the his Passing NEP is just 0.10, giving him a per-play rate of 0.00 (or Ryan Tannehill level).
And it's not just NEP. His Adjusted Yards per Attempt is 9.34 at home and 5.20 on the road. In wins, it's 10.22, and in losses, it's 4.92. This week, Washington is a three-point road underdog to Philadelphia. Whew.
But the really good news is that Philly ranks 30th against fantasy passers and that DeSean Jackson looks to be back and healthy without question. With he and Jordan Reed -- and Philadelphia's inability to keep opposing offenses of the field -- the home/road splits might not matter this week.
Jameis Winston, Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Jameis Winston hasn't been an all-or-nothing fantasy asset this season, despite the rookie ups-and-downs. He's been between 12 and 21 fantasy points in all but one game (a 29.8-point outing in Week 11 against the aforementioned Eagles in Philadelphia). So there's been a floor even if it's about as high as the ceiling.
This week, Winston gets the Chicago Bears in Tampa. Chicago is 25th against fantasy quarterbacks and 27th against the pass, per our metrics. Winston has actually been better on the road (including 13 touchdowns and 3 picks compared to 7 touchdowns and 9 picks at home), but it's the matchup that stands out. As 3-point home favorites with a 24.25-point implied total, Tampa is in a good spot to play with a safe lead and some points on the board.
Alex Smith, Kansas City Chiefs
Alex Smith had a bit of a downer in Week 15, as he compiled barely more than a dozen fantasy points. He was, however, 21 of 25 on his attempts. Unfortunately, the one-sided game limited his upside. There's a chance of that again, but there's still reason to believe he'll post some numbers before playing it safe. (Okay, he'll be playing it safe from the get-go, but still.)
Kansas City is a 12.5-point home favorite against the Cleveland Browns, who rank 29th against fantasy quarterbacks and 23rd against the pass, per our metrics. But with a 27.5-point implied team total (second highest on the slate), the Chiefs should be putting points on the board, and red zone looks should be on the docket for Smith because of how dominant the script should be in their favor.
Teddy Bridgewater, Minnesota Vikings
Teddy Bridgewater and the Vikings are six-point home favorites against the Odell Beckham-less New York Giants. That suggests a good matchup for running back Adrian Peterson (New York is just 21st against the run, by NEP, and 19th against the pass).
In his last four games, Bridgewater has two games with fewer than 5 fantasy points (not a typo) and one with more than 30. You can't bank on a 30-point game from him, but given the expected gamescript (Minnesota also has a healthy 26-point implied total), Peterson's ankle scare in Week 15, and the weak secondary, it's hard to see Bridgewater flirting with zero points again this week.
He's by no means a great play, but the quarterback hoarding strategy doesn't leave many low-owned options "streamer" worthy.