Get Off on the Right Foot

By Anthony Reimer (@reimeras)

Waiting on quarterback has become one of the most popular trends in fantasy football drafts. So much so that some of the big name guys are almost becoming a value. If I'm in a league and Aaron Rodgers or Tom Brady are sitting there in the fourth or fifth round, I'm probably going to take them. However, unless one of the true elite fall to you, I'm a big advocate for waiting on not just quarterback but also tight end and defense. The main reason for this is opportunity cost. Since you only start one of these positions per week, the need for depth isn't as prevalent as it is with wide receiver and running back, so you really only need to draft one of each.

Also, with most of these positions, after the truly elite there isn't a lot of difference between them. Do I like Kirk Cousins and Kyle Rudolph more than Andy Dalton and Jack Doyle? Sure, but the difference in their points per game most likely isn't going to make up for the five round difference in their cost. If you do wait on these positions, the ultimate goal is to find an every week starter. A diamond in the rough, if you will. However, this doesn't always work out. We can project and obsess over what we think a player can do, but eventually they'll play and screw up the best laid plans.

This is where streaming comes in. In 2016, 42 quarterbacks put up a QB1 performance. In case you're new to this, there's only 32 NFL teams. So if you wait on quarterback and miss that final run at the position, don't panic. I'm here to give you some guys that you can draft to start for at least Week 1.

Quarterbacks:

10 man leagues:

 Cam Newton (@ San Francisco)

Look, let's be blunt: Cam Newton sucked last year. Coming off a season in which Cam was the number 1 QB, Cam entered 2016 as a potential top 2 quarterback at a fourth round pick. He's also the perfect example of why you should wait on quarterback. So, some may shy away from Cam, but 2016 is in the past. Going as the QB11 in drafts, Newton has turned into one of my favorite values. The fact that he has the third easiest schedule to start the season according to the Fantasy Footballers Ultimate Draft Kit doesn't hurt either. In week 1 he faces the lowly San Francisco 49ers. In 2016, San Francisco allowed the 12th most points per game to opposing quarterbacks. While that may not seem that bad, they would have been worse if they weren't so horrid against the run. While some people may think that Cam is going run a lot less this season, I'm skeptical. You don't change the way you’ve been playing football your entire life over an offseason. Given San Fransisco’s terrible defense, and Cam’s floor due to his rushing ability, I think he's almost certainly going to be a top 10 quarterback to start off the season, and could lead into a nice trade asset.  Cam is the perfect type of quarterback to grab late, especially in a 10 man league. He’s shown that he has the upside to be an elite fantasy option, but at a 10th round draft cost he's easily expendable if he shows that he's closer to the 2016 version of Cam Newton than the 2015 version.

12 man leagues:

Carson Palmer (@ Detroit)

Carson Palmer is another guy that disappointed in 2016. After a great 2015 season that saw the Arizona Cardinals make it to the NFC Championship game, the entire Cardinals organization let fans and fantasy players down. Well, almost the entire organization. David Johnson was pretty good wasn't he? The truth is however, Palmer really didn't let anyone down. It was our fault for believing he was a top 13 quarterback to begin with. Palmer threw for the third most yards in his career and his touchdown and interception percentage were both around his career average. While 2015 was an outlier that I don't expect Palmer to reach again, that doesn't mean he isn't a good quarterback streamer in the right matchup. Arizona opens the season with the second best quarterback schedule over the first four games, according to the aforementioned Ultimate Draft Kit. In week 1, Palmer faces the Detroit Lions who gave up the fifth most points to opposing quarterbacks in 2016. With a healthy Matthew Stafford and the legend himself Kenny Golladay, I expect Detroit to be able to move the ball against Arizona, forcing them to keep pace. While Palmer most likely isn't a full season starter for your fantasy team, he is a good emergency option late in drafts as he's currently going in the 13th round.

14/16 man leagues:

Sam Bradford

(vs New Orleans)

Sometimes streaming quarterbacks is gross. You just have to hold your nose and trust the matchup. This is the case with Sam Bradford. Currently being drafted as the QB21, he is basically free in most formats. In week 1, Bradford and the Vikings host the New Orleans Saints who have had the worst defense in the league for what feels like forever. While Minnesota has one of the league's best defenses, Drew Brees is capable of moving the ball against just about any team in the league. I expect New Orleans to be able to score a decent amount of points, which will force the Vikings to be more aggressive. With weapons like Stefon Diggs, Dalvin Cook and Kyle Rudolph, I expect Bradford to be able to throw for around 250 yards and 2 touchdowns which is normally enough to make him a top 12 quarterback.

TE

10 man leagues:

Hunter Henry (vs Denver)

I know what you're thinking, why I'm the hell would I suggest to start anyone against the Broncos defense? While Denver has arguably the best defense in the league, they are middle of the pack against tight ends. Since they're cornerbacks are so good, the best way to throw the football against them is over the middle of the field. In his first meeting with Denver, Henry went off catching six passes for 83 yards and a touchdown. While the matchup isn't exactly ideal, Rivers has always shown that he's willing to throw to his tight ends, regardless of matchup. If Henry is able to earn his trust early in the season, Rivers may look his way more often than Gates, and Henry could be on his way to a big year.

12 man leagues:

Cameron Brate (@ Miami)

People have been hyping the Tampa Bay offense all offseason, with good reason. The additions they've made through free agency and the draft give Tampa the potential to be one of the best offenses in the league for years to come. While rookie OJ Howard is one of my favorite dynasty assets, tight ends rarely make an impact in their first year. This makes Cameron Brate’s cost at TE19 absolutely absurd. In week 1, Tampa travels to Miami and faces a defense that allowed the seventh most fantasy points to opposing tight ends in 2016. When you get to this area of tight end, you're basically hoping for a touchdown. Brate is in a good matchup with a quarterback that likes to utilize his tight ends in the red zone and has as much of a chance as any to score in week 1.

14/16 man leagues:

Antonio Gates (@ Denver)

Basically every argument I made for Henry can be applied to Gates, except Gates is currently being drafted outside the top 20 tight ends. Come on people, give the hall of famer some respect!

D/ST

10 man leagues:

Buffalo Bills (Home against New York Jets)

Have you seen the Jets this offseason? After losing Eric Decker and Quincy Enunwa this offseason, the Jets have the potential to be one of the worst offenses in NFL history. Whether it's Josh McCown or Christian Hackenburg (please God, let it be Hackenburg) the Bills are my number one defense to stream in week 1 and might be my number one defense overall.

12 man leagues:

Pittsburgh Steelers (Away against Cleveland Browns)

The Steelers have been one of my favorite defenses to target at the end of the draft. They start the year off against the Browns in week one, which in and of itself makes them worth drafting. They add value, however, since they follow up with games against the Vikings, Bears, Ravens, and Jaguars the next four weeks. While they carry the risk of allowing the other team points in garbage time, they should be able to get enough turnovers and sacks to make up the difference.

14/16 man leagues:

Tampa Bay Buccaneers (Away against Miami Dolphins)

Miami fans might be excited but that will pass when they see Jay Cutler play. Take it from a former Bears fan; start your defenses against Cutler and reap the rewards.

Good luck to everyone in your upcoming fantasy drafts. I hope this information was helpful. Keep an eye out every Tuesday of this season as I will be telling you what waiver wire gold you can find to stream your way to fantasy glory.