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The Studs and Streaming Approach to 2-QB Fantasy Football Drafts

Salvatore Stefanile

Salvatore Stefanile is a member of the Fantasy Sports Writers Association and believes that 2-QB fantasy football leagues will be the future of fantasy football. You can read about his 2-QB fantasy football opinions and analysis at XNSports.com.
Alex Smith
Feb 3, 2013; New Orleans, LA, USA; San Francisco 49ers quarterback Alex Smith (11) warms up against the Baltimore Ravens in Super Bowl XLVII at the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. Mark J. Rebilas-USA TODAY Sports

If you follow the same fantasy writers I follow, and read the outstanding work they produce, then the term “streaming” in fantasy football should be embedded in your memory bank by now.

C.D. “Denny” Carter, JJ Zachariason and Patrick Thorman are three of the best fantasy minds out there in the fantasy football community, and they each have their own unique takes on streaming.

If it was up to C.D., he’d stream his entire lineup, if it was possible, but for now he’s the king of streaming defenses and tight ends, and is doing a QB by waiver wire strategy series over at 4for4.com.

Patrick has written about streaming pretty much every position, pointing out their advantages and disadvantages. When it comes to JJ, the late round quarterback guru, he published an article earlier this year about streaming in 2-QB fantasy football leagues.

I’ve only gotten into the streaming philosophy of fantasy football within the past year, and it never occurred to me to stream quarterbacks in 2-QB leagues before.

That is until I read JJ’s article, and then Patrick’s thoughts on QB streaming, in this article specifically, made me give it more thought. My only issue with streaming your quarterbacks in 2-QB leagues is that it’s a practice more suited to leagues that have 10 teams.

Streaming quarterbacks in a 12-team 2-QB league, while not impossible, seems a bit tricky to me. At least in 10-team leagues you can wait a little while longer than you normally would in 12-team 2-QB leagues to draft your quarterbacks. Still, I wanted to give streaming in a 2-QB draft a chance, and I tested out an experiment involving streaming in a 2-QB mock draft.

That opportunity arose to me in a FFOasis 10-team 2-QB mock draft put on by John Fortes (@JB4tes).

Going full out with the quarterback streaming approach wasn’t what I set out to do, but instead, I combined the streaming approach with a “draft studs” strategy. For this particular 2-QB mock draft experiment, I decided I would combine drafting a QB1 early (stud) with drafting two quarterbacks late (streaming) that I could stream, and use as my QB2, based on favorable match-ups.

While we don’t know exactly which defenses will be the best to stream quarterbacks against yet in 2013, Patrick laid out a pretty good argument about which defenses you should consider starting your quarterbacks against, if going the streaming approach. I believe his article was written with a slant towards 1-QB leagues, but I was able to work with it for my 2-QB streaming experiment.

Before you go on, read Patrick’s article to see his thoughts about how he thinks certain defenses will perform in 2013, and check out the handy color-coded chart at the bottom of the page, to see which weeks quarterbacks might have a favorable match-up.

I had no particular quarterbacks in mind that I wanted to draft going into my mock draft. I knew that I would take the last available QB1, which turned out to be Russell Wilson in the third round.

And, after that, I wanted to wait and see which QB2/QB3 would fall to me, and draft them when I decided I couldn’t wait any longer. Eventually the moment came, and I went with Josh Freeman, in the 9th round, to be my QB2-A.

In the beginning of the off-season I wasn’t the biggest fan of Josh Freeman, and neither was his coach, it seemed, as Tampa Bay Buccaneers head coach Greg Schiano didn’t come out and publicly back his incumbent starting quarterback in the beginning stages of the off-season.

The drafting of rookie quarterback Mike Glennon in the third round was seen as another sign of non-support. In his latest quarterback streaming article, Patrick makes the case why Freeman is being over drafted, and he makes good points.

Recently, Schiano came out saying that Freeman is the team’s “only quarterback,” and others have made a case for him, such as 4for4’s John Paulsen. I still am not 100 percent sold on Freeman, but when streaming him with another quarterback in 2-QB leagues, I can get behind Freeman as a streamable QB2 option.

Freeman did put up seven top-12, or QB1, weekly performances in 2012; both in standard scoring leagues, and 6-points per passing touchdown leagues. And, if you want, you can also handcuff Freeman with Glennon. You probably don’t have to draft Glennon in most re-draft 2-QB leagues, but I went ahead and did so, for this mock, just to be safe.

When choosing my QB2/QB3 combo, I had Patrick’s chart by my side, which showed potential quarterback streaming options’ 2013 season schedule broken down for each week. Patrick has graciously allowed me to use his chart for this article, and you can view it below.

(Red = probable top ten defenses and bye weeks, Orange = probable top half defenses, Yellow = defenses that could cause quarterbacks trouble.)

Chart courtesy of Patrick Thorman of ProFootballFocus.com
Chart courtesy of Patrick Thorman of ProFootballFocus.com

I carefully tried to pair Freeman with a quarterback I could stream him with, on and off, either because of byes, or unfavorable match-ups. After studying Patrick’s chart, the one quarterback I most comfortably felt could do that was Alex Smith, and I drafted him for the role of QB2-B, with my 10th round pick.

Take a look at the above chart again, and study the match-ups Freeman and Smith have. Once you compare their schedules, you’ll notice just how compatible Freeman and Smith are, for streaming purposes.

In Weeks 1, 4, 5, 9, 15 and 16, Freeman has one “Yellow” match-up, one “Orange” match-up, and three “Red” match-ups, plus his bye in Week 5. Alex Smith can start in place of Freeman each of those weeks, based on his potentially favorable match-ups. On top of that, Smith also has a favorable match-up during Russell Wilson’s Week 12 bye.

One thing you want out of your QB3 is to be able to at least start them during the bye weeks of your QB1 and QB2. Smith passes the test in that area.

While I wouldn’t plan on benching Wilson, if I wanted to, there are only two unfavorable weeks Smith couldn’t cover for Wilson, and they come in Weeks 7 and 8, in which Smith goes up against a “Yellow” Texans defense, and an “Orange” Browns defense. The urge to not bench your studs in fantasy football is a great one, but if the match-up favors your QB3, it’s something to consider.

Can a “studs and streaming” approach in 2-QB fantasy football leagues work this year? If you grab the right quarterbacks it can, which is something that can be said about any draft strategy in any type of league. But, that doesn’t make it any less true.

If you’re going to commit to any type of streaming strategy, you have to be 100% committed, because it’s easy to back out if you put a lot of thought into having to choose between a Josh Freeman/Alex Smith combo, rather than going for a Tony Romo-type to be your weekly QB2.

The main benefit of streaming in 2-QB leagues is that it allows you to stockpile and build depth at other positions on your team, since you’re not putting all of your focus on the quarterback position.

If you’re skeptical about streaming quarterbacks in 2-QB leagues, I would suggest giving it a shot in a mock draft, I preferably a 10-team mock, rather than a 12-team mock. Once you’re done mocking, see what your team looks like. I was able to put together the team below, and came away satisfied:

Screen Shot 2013-07-03 at 11.47.05 PM

One recommendation I have, if you try a “studs and streaming” approach in your 2-QB draft, is to monitor the quarterback position. You don’t want to wait too long to grab either your QB1 or QB2, because you might end up waiting too long, and that could damage your team. Keep tabs of your fellow drafters and their teams, with an emphasis on the quarterbacks they’ve selected.

You should also play around with potential quarterback combos you’d be willing to stream throughout the course of season, and be ready to strike when the moment arises. You’re not always going to get a Josh Freeman in the 9th round, so be flexible with your streaming options.