Fantasy Football Draft Targets for DST & QB Streaming
Step 1: Stream D/STs and quarterbacks
Step 2: ¯\_(ツ)_/¯
Step 3: Profit
That’s the basic advice on every fantasy football website this time of year. It’s good advice, actually, but Step 2 could use a little refinement. To help fill in that blank, in this article I’m going to highlight a few D/STs and quarterbacks that will make good streaming options to start the year based on (1) availability in the last few rounds of drafts, (2) good early-season schedules, and (3) potential to emerge as every-week starters.
Cincinnati Bengals – vs. Ravens Week 1, vs. Texans Week 2
Your ideal streamer is a D/ST at home against a bad quarterback. The Bengals get that twice to start the season. In Week 1, they’ll face either Joe Flacco coming off a back injury (likely after missing the entire preseason) or backup Ryan Mallett. What’s the opposite of being caught between a rock and a hard place? Week 2 looks just as good, with a matchup on a short week against Houston and either Tom Savage (the guy who couldn’t beat out Brock Osweiler last year) or Deshaun Watson (17 INTs vs. ACC competition in 2016). Cincinnati should be playing with a lead in both games, giving them an opportunity to tee off on bad quarterbacks playing behind Mike Tagliere’s 22nd and 28thranked offensive lines.
Los Angeles Chargers – @ Broncos Week 1, vs. Dolphins Week 2
These matchups look great at first blush, but a little less so on further review. D/STs score points by facing a lot of pass attempts (i.e., opportunities for sacks, interceptions, and touchdowns)-the Broncos and Dolphins are going to do everything they can to limit passing attempts to hide their subpar quarterbacks. Still, neither offense should scare you, and matchups like these at least provide a floor. That’s good enough considering how much I love the talent on San Diego’s defense. A full year of Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram pressuring QBs plus a healthy Jason Verrett and Casey Hayward at cornerback, and there’s a chance the Chargers emerge as a top-five unit.
Jacksonville Jaguars – @ Texans Week 1, vs. Titans Week 2
Everything I just said about the Chargers… ditto for the Jaguars. Jacksonville starts with a road game against the Texans’ aforementioned combo meal of bad quarterback and offensive line play, followed by a home game against a run-heavy Titans team in Week 2. It’s just an ok schedule to start, but this was quietly an ascending defense last season (ranking 13th in Football Outsiders’ DVOA). Offseason additions of Calais Campbell and A.J. Bouye could vault this unit into the elite.
Buffalo Bills – vs. Jets Week 1, @ Panthers Week 2
Buffalo isn’t a talented defense, so this seems like a good time to remind you that other than a few elite units, D/ST scoring is all about the opposing offense. At home against the tanking, talentless Jets is as good as it gets this season. It’s hard to say whether you’ll want to hold on to the Bills for Week 2 on the road at Carolina-a lot will depend on how Cam Newton looks in the preseason and Week 1 coming off shoulder surgery-but that Jets matchup will at least get you off to a good start.
Carson Palmer (ARI) – @ Lions Week 1, @ Colts Week 2
The bad news is Palmer starts the year with two road games. The good news is those road games come against the Football Outsiders’ 32nd and 27th ranked passing defenses from 2016. Palmer struggled last season with his receiving corps in constant flux and an arm that was supposedly worn out, but still finished top ten in passing yards and touchdowns. Bruce Arians will always run a fantasy-friendly offense, so this trip to the Midwest is a great way to start Palmer’s season. And yours.
Tyrod Taylor (BUF) – vs. Jets Week 1, @ Panthers Week 2
Every analysis of Taylor needs to start with the fact that he’s finished 7th among quarterbacks in points per game each of the last two seasons. The dude is a good fantasy quarterback regardless of his schedule. As a sweetener, though, that early-season schedule is pretty nice. Taylor starts 2017 at home vs. the Jets, who finished as Football Outsiders’ 31st ranked pass defense last season and don’t look to be much better in 2017. This matchup will be an auto-play for quarterbacks all year. Taylor then goes on the road against Carolina, whose secondary struggled in 2016 after losing stud cornerback Josh Norman. The Broncos are looming in Week 3, but Taylor is at least a top option for Week 1 and playable in Week 2. You may need to get creative thereafter, but it’s worth it given his season-long viability.