Streaming your starting QB, TE, or D/ST isn’t the goal in fantasy football. But, if you’re weak at a position where you only have to start one player, picking up usable fantasy weeks from the waiver wire can be a beneficial process. In typical start-one quarterback, tight end, and D/ST 12-team formats, most of your league mates won’t — and shouldn’t — carry a backup QB or D/ST. Positional scarcity leaves the waiver wire flush with plausible weekly starting options based on their matchup and expected game-flow.
Simply put, because quarterback and defensive matchups are easier to predict and their output varies less on a weekly basis, sharp fantasy owners have an edge in their leagues if they can stream their “onesie” positions (usually their defense) better than their opponent.
Let’s hit the Week 15 streamers:
It’s been a tale of two seasons for the Cowboys‘ signal-caller. With Amari Cooper, Prescott and the ‘Boys offense has turned a massive corner. In six games, Dak is averaging 24.9 fantasy points per game after putting up 19.8 PPG in Weeks 1-8 without Cooper. Additionally, Prescott’s YPA has spiked by 1.2 yards with Cooper while his 74 percent completion rate in this span is best in the NFL. Prescott has become an auto-QB1 fantasy play in this suddenly high-upside attack. Plus, over the full year, the Colts have allowed the ninth-highest passer rating (97.6) and the second-highest completion rate (72 percent).
It’s been ugly to watch through the air (44-of-88, 597 yards, 3:4 TD-to-INT ratio, 64.4 passer rating), but Allen’s legs have carried him to a string of remarkable fantasy finishes over the last three weeks. With 13/99/1, 9/135, and 9/101/1 rushing lines, Allen has recorded QB4, QB2, and QB15 fantasy performances in this three-game span. Allen does not have a floor in the passing game — which takes him out of starting consideration in shallow 10-team leagues — but he currently leads all qualifying players in yards per carry (7.4). On rushing prowess alone, Allen is a top-15 QB play in Week 15.
Ceiling: Derek Carr vs. Cincinnati Bengals
After a miserable seven-game stretch from Weeks 5-12 in which Derek Carr fell completely out of fantasy relevance, he’s sprung back to life with two efficient performances. Over his last two games, Carr has finished as a top-15 fantasy passer while totaling 607 yards and five scores through the air. Carr completed 75 percent of his passes and averaged 8.4 YPA against the Steelers and Chiefs, and now has a dream matchup with the Bengals on tap. Trusting the 2018 Raiders is a fruitless endeavor, but Carr is certainly on the back-end QB2 streaming radar in Superflex leagues against a Cincy secondary that is yielding a 100.5 passer rating (eighth-worst) and 8.0 yards per attempt (sixth-worst).
Jordan Reed stayed healthy for 13 games, but unfortunately sustained a toe injury in Week 14 and is likely to miss the rest of the season. Washington has completely collapsed and it would be beyond silly to push Reed through injury, especially considering his past foot/toe issues. As a result, Vernon Davis is the top streamer play of Week 15. Of course, the caveat is that Davis will have to catch passes from Josh Johnson and/or Mark Sanchez. Still, Davis will take over full-time tight end duties and is squarely on the low-end TE1 (top-12) radar in Week 15 against a Jags’ secondary that has quietly leaked the 10th-most PPR points per target to opposing tight ends.
Floor: Ian Thomas vs. New Orleans Saints
Essentially without Greg Olsen (foot) for the last two weeks, Ian Thomas has seen 15 targets and turned them into a reasonable 13/114 receiving line. Now, Thomas’ ceiling will remain low until his 4.5 air yards per target rises, but we have to be sold on a full-time tight end drawing targets. Over the last two weeks, Thomas has played on 80 percent of Panthers snaps and ran a pass route on 78 percent of Cam Newton‘s dropbacks. New Orleans has allowed the second-fewest fantasy points per target to tight ends, but opportunity is the name of the game at a destitute position.
Presently 44 percent available in NFL.com fantasy leagues, the Jags’ D/ST technically qualifies as a streamer in Week 15. Obviously, they are a top target off the wire this week for managers in the fantasy playoffs. Without Alex Smith (leg) over the last three weeks, Washington has turned the ball over 11 times while their quarterbacks have taken 11 sacks. The road-tripping Redskins offense stands little chance against a Jags’ defense that has held enemy quarterbacks to the third-lowest passer rating in the NFL and has performed significantly better at home this season. Over the full year, the Jags’ D/ST has averaged 8.2 PPG at home (sixth-best) versus a paltry 3.7 PPG on the road (third-worst).
Over the last month without Golden Tate (traded) and Marvin Jones (knee), Matthew Stafford has thrown just two passing scores and averaged an abysmal 6.1 YPA. In this span, Detroit is ninth-from-last in yards per drive and fifth-from-last in drives ending a score. The banged-up, low-ceiling Lions are in a brutal road spot in Week 15 against a Bills‘ secondary that is tied with the Bears for the second-lowest YPA allowed (6.4). Only the Texans, Ravens, Bears, and Jaguars have a better outlook this week than the Bills‘ D/ST.
Both the Jags’ D/ST (44 percent) and Bills D/ST (74 percent) are widely available, but the Falcons are a fine fall-back option for Week 15. Even without Mike McCoy calling the shots over the last six weeks, Arizona is 31st in yards per drive and dead-last in percentage of drives ending in a score. In this span, Josh Rosen has completed just 56 percent of his passes and absorbed 2.7 sacks per game. At home and widely favored to win, the Falcons‘ D/ST has a reasonable fantasy floor against the completely inept Cardinals.