Two of the biggest positions for streaming in fantasy are quarterback and defense. Here in this article, we will break down the best options at quarterback and defense, hoping to steer fantasy managers into decisions that create wins. This article will focus mostly on players less than 50-percent rostered.
Ben Roethlisberger (QB, PIT) vs LV
Week 1 was not pretty for the veteran quarterback. Roethlisberger was only able to pass for 188 yards and one touchdown against a tough Buffalo Bills team. How the game played out – a slow, stalemate that held for three quarters – only exacerbated Roethlisberger’s poor fantasy showing too.
Enter the Las Vegas Raiders and Roethlisberger’s Week 2 outlook seems much better on paper. Last season, with an old defensive coordinator, Las Vegas allowed 263.2 passing yards against them on a per-game basis, ranked 25th in the league. In addition, they allowed 20.5-FPPG to quarterbacks in 2020, which was the ninth-worst. Lastly, they allowed opposing offenses to score 29.9 points per contest.
The Steelers are expected to score 27.5 points according to the game-line. It is reasonable to expect 2 touchdowns from Big Ben, as many as three to four touchdowns can be had in this spot. And we know that Pittsburgh can play defense, so this offense could easily cash in on a few short fields due to turnovers or successfully flipping the field.
Roethlisberger remains available in 65% of ESPN leagues heading into Week 2.
Jameis Winston (QB, NO) @CAR
Jameis Winston has not had a game with at least 4 touchdowns and zero interceptions since Week 11 in 2015. In Week 1 of 2021, he had 5 tuddies with zero interceptions, allowing him to be hyper-efficient on the day.
Winston will be reading the Carolina defense in Week 2. Carolina is a young defensive group who showed in Week 1 that pressuring the quarterback is something they can do. The Panthers logged 6 sacks and 10 QB hits against the New York Jets’ rookie Zach Wilson. However the secondary for the Panthers were still vulnerable, allowing Wilson to throw for 258 yards and two touchdowns, to just one interception.
Despite a great game from the Carolina defense, Winston and the Saints will show up to Charlotte with a better idea of how the Panthers will attack them (due to being in the same division), be better coached and possess a more experienced quarterback than the Jets. Winston has always been a fantasy option when starting, but he always looked ugly doing it. And as recent as 2019, he averaged 20.9-FPPG
After a solid showing in Week 1, I have no problem throwing Winston out as a fantasy starter against the Panthers. Winston can be picked up in nearly 74-percent of ESPN leagues.
Kirk Cousins (QB, MIN) @ARI
Week 1 for Cousins was near his ceiling’s potential, scoring 24-fantasy points and finishing as a top-12 quarterback on the week. Cousins is a quarterback who can score 25-plus fantasy points any given week, but the scenario has to lineup for him which causes his risk to go up. With a 51-point over-under and a respectable 4-point spread, the narrative for streaming Cousins looks to be setup.
For Cousins to go off we are going to need Arizona to score points, and they can score points in a hurry. Furthermore, Dalvin Cook has to be managed by the Cardinals’ defense. There certainly can be scenarios where both Cook and Cousins are lighting up the fantasy scoreboard, but history shows that this does not normally correlate. I do expect Cousins to play keep-up or catch-up in a tight game and a three-plus touchdown day is possible for Cousins.
Cousins is available in over 75-percent of ESPN leagues. He is not the strongest streaming option but he easily could be the best left on your league’s waivers.
Honorable Mentions: Jimmy Garoppolo (@PHI), Baker Mayfield (vs HOU), Mack Jones (@NYJ)
Cleveland Browns (vs HOU)
Honestly, it may be Houston that fantasy managers actively target, much like the Jets one season ago. Houston is a bad team and last week they got bailed out by Trevor Lawrence’s mistakes.
This game projects Houston losing by at least 12 points and only scoring 18 points according to sportsbooks. The game’s projection is likely weighed down by Cleveland running the ball and dominating the time of possession, while also dominating this Houston offense.
Houston played a clean game against the Jaguars and that trend will certainly not continue. Cleveland could easily force an interception or two and with Houston being +12 underdogs, they easily could be forced to throw the ball early and often. From there you just hope one of these turnovers makes it to the house for six points.
Cleveland is available in nearly 48-percent of ESPN leagues and they can easily be streamed in Week 3 against the Bears should Andy Dalton remain the starting quarterback.
Green Bay Packers (vs DET)
The great thing about playing poorly in Week 1 for an elite team is that you can just go right back to them in a spot like this, while other managers get recency bias. If Green Bay is as good as we saw last year, and we expect them to be, they should show up with a lot of juice in this home, opening divisional game.
Detroit played well in their first game but Jared Goff has been a turnover machine at times and he even logged one interception in Week 1. Goff’s numbers were masked by his touchdowns, but he was certainly far from efficient.
Detroit is not a good team and they are expected to struggle, so it comes as no surprise that Green Bay has a 10.5-point handicap with sportsbooks heading into Week 2. When we see these large spreads it can indicate potential large deficits, which make quarterbacks attempt a lot of passes – some into tight windows. Your biggest hope is that one of Goff’s turnovers can lead to a pick-six.
Green Bay can be picked up and streamed in 75% of ESPN leagues this week.
Cincinnati Bengals (@CHI)
The Bengals will travel to Soldier Field in Week 2 and you should target Chicago mainly because of Andy Dalton.
Dalton did not look comfortable in Week 1 against the Rams, one of the best defenses in the league to his credit. But the former TCU quarterback finished with 206 yards, no touchdowns, one interception and one fumble lost for an abysmal 35-QBR. Dalton’s turnover-prone habits easily make the case to start the Bengals in Week 2.
For the Bengals, they were in the top-10 for quarterback hits (8 total) and sacks (3 total) in Week 1. Streamers will hope those stats carry over along with multiple turnovers for Dalton.
The Bengals are available in 99-percent of all ESPN leagues and could easily fly under the radar without costing you a waiver spot or FAAB.
Likely Rostered, but worth grabbing if available: Broncos (@JAX), Patriots (@NYJ)