Stream Kirk Cousins in Week 16
Like last week, we’re examining 10 quarterbacks’ matchups and ranking them in order, while considering both their floors and ceilings. Picks are also split into sections, which can be considered as tiers. Anyone in the top tier is a better streamer than the second tier, and so on.
Stream ‘em if you can
These quarterbacks have high ceilings and excellent matchups. Bonus points go to players with high floors to boot.
Kirk Cousins (25.1) at Philadelphia
Kirk Cousins has completed 69.0 percent or more of his attempts in six consecutive games, and he’s hit 300 yards in four of those. Unfortunately, he’s only passed for multiple touchdowns in three games this season (passing for exactly one touchdown in the rest), leading to some very disappointing performances. Week 16, however, sets him up for a repeat of last week’s success in which he found the endzone four times.
Philadelphia has allowed 30 passing touchdowns this season, trailing only Miami and New Orleans. Opponents also average 259 passing yards per game, the ninth-highest mark in the league. And the defense is trending in the wrong direction.
Three of the Eagles’ last five opponents have scored 40 or more points, while the other two combined for 48. The two offenses that scored the most points — Tampa Bay and Detroit both scored 45 — have otherwise averaged 20.5 and 19.8 per game. They’re not exactly offensive powerhouses, in other words.
In addition, the last four quarterbacks to face Philadelphia passed for an average of 297.8 yards. The only one of those quarterbacks who didn’t exceed his season passing average was Carson Palmer, most likely because David Johnson was busy rushing for 187 yards and three touchdowns.
Expect Cousins to put up another excellent performance in this crucial division matchup.
Matt Schaub (1.4 percent) vs. Pittsburgh
Matt Schaub found some rhythm against Miami in his last game, passing for 308 yards and completing nearly 70 percent of his passes. While he also threw more interceptions than touchdowns, it was an encouraging performance from a fantasy perspective.
Baltimore faces Pittsburgh this week, and all indications suggest the Steelers will score a lot of points. They have scored 30-plus in their last six matchups, including last week’s victory over Denver’s vaunted defense. It would be unwise to expect them to let up against Baltimore, which has allowed 69 points in its last two games.
However, a high scoring game should benefit Schaub, if he gets the start. Five of the last six quarterbacks to face Pittsburgh have passed for 296 yards or more. Those five quarterbacks have also thrown 15 touchdowns. One is basically required to pass the ball at least 40 times if the opponent is a lock to score 30 points. While Schaub isn’t a particularly gifted quarterback, he’s capable of posting a second consecutive 300-yard performance and tossing a pair of touchdowns. Not bad for a guy with the lowest ownership rate on this week’s list.
Brian Hoyer (18.6 percent) at Tennessee
We learned last week that not just any quarterback can be plugged into Houston’s offense and find immediate success. Hoyer’s return would be welcome news to both the Texans offense and fantasy football players.
Hoyer has passed for multiple touchdowns in each of the past six complete games he’s played. He’s passed for 273 to 312 yards in four of those games and averages 7.2 yards per attempt this season. All of this is good, but it’s compounded by this week’s opponent.
Tennessee is tied with Philadelphia for allowing the third-most passing touchdowns. They’re also allowing the fourth-most passing yards per attempt (8.1), suggesting quarterbacks need not attempt many passes to find success. Indeed, the Titans defense ranks dead last in passing attempts against (438), despite ranking 29th in passing touchdowns allowed.
Hoyer passed for 235 yards and two touchdowns last time he faced the Titans. Consider that to be roughly his floor this week.
Stream ‘em next
These quarterbacks tend to have lower floors and ceiling than quarterbacks in the last section, but their matchups are still favorable.
Matt Hasselbeck (12.1 percent) at Miami (Q)
Hasselbeck posted a dreadful 147-yard performance against Houston last week. He threw one touchdown and one interception, while averaging fewer than five yards per attempt. Fortunately, the 40-year-old quarterback has an ideal opponent against whom he can bounce back.
Miami has allowed 31 passing touchdowns this season, and only New Orleans has given up more. They’ve also surrendered 265 yards per game, which ranks 27th, and 8.0 yards per attempt, which ranks 28th. And those numbers have been getting worse lately. The last three quarterbacks to face Miami have passed for a minimum of 308 yards. Three of the last four have thrown at least three touchdowns (and two have thrown four).
Hasselbeck may not match those numbers, but he should fare much better than he has recently.
Jay Cutler (26.4) at Tampa Bay
Cutler has passed for two touchdowns in back-to-back games after getting goose-egged in two of the three that preceded them. Unfortunately, star wide receiver Alshon Jeffery finds himself on the injury report again this week.
Tampa Bay’s defense, which has allowed 245 passing yards and two touchdowns per game this season, should still favor a good performance. At the very least, it keeps his floor relatively high this week.
Jameis Winston (40.7 percent) vs. Chicago
Winston passed for more than 300 yards for the first time this season in a loss to St. Louis last week, but his real value this season has been his ability to rush for touchdowns. He’s quietly done that five times, bailing out fantasy football players who would be otherwise left with around 250 passing yards and zero or one passing touchdown.
Chicago, conversely, has been bleeding points the past three weeks. San Francisco, Washington, and Minnesota have scored 88 points and their quarterbacks have found plenty of success. Blaine Gabbert, Kirk Cousins, and Teddy Bridgewater each rushed for a touchdown (and passed for six total).
Stream ‘em if you must
These quarterbacks have the lowest ceilings or greatest potential to bust. Still, if you don’t have any other options (looking to you, 2QB leagues), you may want to take a flyer.
Johnny Manziel (7 percent) at Kansas City
Manziel has thrown a touchdown pass in every game in which he’s attempted at least 15 passes this season, but he’s only thrown more than that once. Kansas City, which is in the midst of an eight-game win streak, has held its last 10 opponents to 22 or fewer points. Only four teams have allowed fewer passing yards per attempt, though the Chiefs have also allowed several quarterbacks to pass for multiple touchdowns recently. Derek Carr (2), Jimmy Clausen (2), and Tyrod Taylor (3) have done it in the past four weeks.
Alex Smith (47.8 percent) vs. Cleveland
Smith extended his touchdown streak to four games, but he’s been quiet in his last two games. Despite completing 75 percent of his attempts over the past two weeks, Smith’s relative low volume (only 48 passes) has kept his overall numbers down. He hasn’t passed for more than 191 yards since Week 12, and, despite a favorable matchup with one of the league’s most generous defenses, his floor against Cleveland remains low.
Sam Bradford (17.4) vs. Washington
Sam Bradford passed for multiple touchdowns for the second time in three weeks, and there’s reason to suggest he’ll find more success against Washington. He had his best fantasy performance of the season against Washington in Week 4, passing for 270 yards and three touchdowns. Unfortunately, Bradford’s floor is exceptionally low, making him a risky choice in a week with plenty of better candidates.
Teddy Bridgewater (15.6) vs. New York Giants
The Giants defense is the only one in the NFL allowing more than 300 passing yards per game, and no one else is even close. Pittsburgh, which ranks 31st, allows 279 per game.
Alas, Bridgewater is the riskiest fantasy play available. He passed for four touchdowns last week, the second time this season he’s passed for at least two, but he did it on only 20 attempts. Those numbers are an anomaly, not a sign of things to come.