Quarterback & Tight End Streamers: Week 2 (2021 Fantasy Football)
If the pre-season was strange because it seemed like there were more injuries to players in key positions, Week 1 was also bizarre in its own right. Most of my teams that were favored to win ended up losing, whereas most of my teams that were big underdogs won quite comfortably. This tells you that the NFL is back and that anything can happen. When Elijah Mitchell gets more PPR points than Saquon Barkley, Ezekiel Elliot, and Aaron Jones combined, even without a reception, that says a lot. Van Jefferson outscored Stefon Diggs, A.J. Brown, and Justin Jefferson. He only had two receptions.
For the quarterback position, there were also a ton of surprises. Perhaps the biggest surprise happened in the Saints/Packers game. Jameis Winston threw for five touchdowns without throwing an interception. Aaron Rodgers, on the other hand, didn’t throw a touchdown but threw two picks. Consequently, Winston was the top fantasy quarterback, and Rodgers was the worst. No one saw that coming.
For the tight ends, there were fewer surprises. The only anomaly that rose from tight end obscurity was also a Saint. Juwan Johnson, who converted from wide receiver to tight end this year, had only three receptions, but two were for touchdowns. This was enough to make him TE5 for the week. More on him later. That being said, every other tight end that made up the top-10 were household names. What this is suggesting is that streaming tight ends will most likely be a crapshoot once again.
Upside Streamer of the Week: Jameis Winston (NO) @ Carolina Panthers
Staying with the same ten teams to stream quarterbacks from last week, we have options. However, if there was one quarterback worth picking up now and holding on to, it is probably Jameis Winston. Winston looked like the antithesis of Old Jameis. The only thing the two had in common is both versions threw a lot of touchdowns. However, the new, improved version is much more efficient. This could be because of his off-season Lasik eye surgery. This could be because he sat under and learned from one of the most efficient and accurate quarterbacks of all time, Drew Brees. It could be because he has matured and has really worked on changing his maverick tendancies. It could also be a fluke, and we were subjected to a short-visited version of Jameis. We only have one week of new Jameis, so it still is anyone’s guess.
What we do know is he only threw for 148 yards but had a 70% completion rate. Compared to his last year as a starter in Tampa Bay, his game has changed significantly. His yards per game average was less than half, but his completion percentage was almost 10% better. The good news is his Yards Per Attempt (YPA) was not much lower in Week 1, as he had a respectable 7.4 YPA. What is more interesting is his Air Yards Per Attempt was off the chart at 12.4. He had never averaged more than 7.7 in any year when he was a Buccaneer. Now, this is a small sample size, but he did face a Packer defense that is usually tough. And he made it look easy. Could this be a fluke? Yes. Could he revert to Old Jameis? Definitely. However, if he is the new and improved version, get him this week because if he continues to flourish, he will not be a waiver wire option again all season. Carolina’s defense looked better than expected last week, but they played a young team with a rookie quarterback and head coach. If Winston can be efficient, he may be the difference maker you want to start this week and beyond.
Safe Floor Streamer of the Week: Teddy Bridgewater (DEN) @ Jacksonville Jaguars
Teddy Bridgewater continued to perform as Steady Teddy does. Nothing flamboyant and nothing remarkable but consistently good. He personifies the smart game manager, and if you are looking for a solid floor play with some upside this week, then Bridgewater’s your guy. Jacksonville’s defense struggled mightily against the supposed worst offense in the NFL. They let Houston score 37 points, and Tyrod Taylor scored over 25 fantasy points as a result. Denver is better, and so Bridgewater could be in for his best fantasy week of 2021. Speaking of Ty-God, if you aren’t a Bridgewater believer, Taylor could be an alternative. Houston faces Cleveland, who still likes to give fantasy points to quarterbacks, and Taylor still has that rushing upside.
Darkhorse: Mac Jones (NE) @ New York Jets
The rise of Mac Jones has been nothing less than phenomenal, considering the time frame. He beat out a former top NFL quarterback and MVP Cam Newton in pre-season. Now, this rookie is coming off a solid debut where he scored around 16 fantasy points against Miami. Miami’s defense may be young, but it is one of the most improved units. Now Jones faces another rookie in Zach Wilson. More importantly, he faces a Jets defense that is also young and still gelling. I wouldn’t expect a dominant week from Jones, but I see him continue growing quickly. I believe he should be able to get you at least 20 points this week. Many have already labeled Jones as a solid game manager. However, he has the potential to be a lot more, as evidenced during his dominant season at Alabama in 2020.
Upside Streamer of the Week: Jared Cook (LAC) vs. Dallas Cowboys
Two reasons I like Jared Cook this week. First of all, we know that the Dallas Cowboys’ defense is generous on the whole. It has also been generous to tight ends recently. Last week Rob Gronkowski torched them for eight receptions, 90 yards, and two touchdowns. The other reason I like Cook is he’s on an offense that has an incredible quarterback in Justin Herbert, on an offense that can explode at any time. Cook has always been an upside play and was clearly the tight end being targeted. He may be past his prime but still has wheels to take it to the house. This game has a bonanza written all over it. Despite Keenan Allen’s dominance, Mike Williams’ steady development, and Austin Ekeler having a potentially big day as a receiver, Jared Cook can still be as relevant as ever in redraft.
Safer Floor Streamer of the Week: James O’Shaughnessy (JAX) vs. Denver Broncos
James O’Shaughnessy is nothing special talent-wise, but he is on a team that will be forced to throw often. And it is clear at this point in the season that he is the tight end to roster for fantasy purposes in Jacksonville. Last week he had a respectable eight targets, in which he converted six for 48 yards. Whenever healthy, O’Shaughnessy is productive. Not flashy or sexy, but if you need a decent floor play, he should do the trick. He was on the field for 59 offensive snaps, which was 80%. If he can continue playing at that rate, I feel comfortable streaming him because he will not leave you with a goose egg.
Darkhorse: Juwan Johnson (NO) @ Carolina Panthers
It may be only Week 2, but already it is a dark and desolate tight end landscape. The seven teams I identified last week as teams to target for tight ends are playing teams that, for the most part, have established or well-rostered options. As a result, I am already being forced to pivot. Juwan Johnson caught my attention all pre-season, and I picked him up in as many dynasty leagues as possible. Many were on the Adam Trautman bandwagon early, but now he looks as though he is being treated like the blocking tight end. Johnson, on the other hand, seems to be the new Jared Cook for the Saints. This is a risky choice despite his great opening week. He only had three receptions. However, if Carolina keeps in stride with New Orleans, unlike Green Bay last week, I think Johnson will get more involved. I would not bank on him getting two touchdowns, but you’d be starting him in the hope he gets more targets with the possibility of scoring one. Johnson only played on 19% of all offensive snaps, which is worrisome. I hope that his efficient play and establishing an early connection with Winston will help him see the field more. I have a soft spot for those converted wide receivers, I guess. I am not expecting a Darren Waller, but as Week 1 illustrated, nothing is out of the realm of possibility.
Good luck this week. Let’s continue to learn, get better, and hopefully win.
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Marc Mathyk is a featured writer at FantasyPros and is a co-founder of Veridian Global, a fantasy football apparel company. He is also a member of The Undroppables. For more from Marc, check out his archive and follow him @Masterjune70.