Through the Wire: Week 3

Written by Anthony Reimer, Writer and Contributer, @reimeras on Twitter and @mrmeseeks on the Fantasy Life App

Week 2 of the 2016 NFL season is in the books and what a week it was. In the words of the immortal Bono, last week was a bloody Sunday. Pour one out for Danny Woodhead who is out for the season with a torn ACL. I hate to see that happen to anyone especially a guy like Woodhead who earned his spot in the NFL through pure work ethic and will.

Before I get into this week’s streamers I wanted to give you all some words of advice regarding the quarterback position. I’ve seen a lot of panicked owners in the FLAFFL House chat on the Fantasy Life App asking if they should trade for Cam Newton or Andrew Luck since guys like Russell Wilson and Jameis Winston are underperforming. If you’re one of these owners, please don’t ruin your depth at wide receiver or running back to pay the price for one of the top tier quarterbacks.

I get it, if you’re 0-2 you’re most likely freaking out and feeling like you need to plug every hole in your starting roster. If this past Sunday taught us anything though it’s that depth at the skill positions, particularly running back, is the most important thing you can have in fantasy. Going into Sunday an owner could feasibly had Adrian Peterson, Danny Woodhead and Arian Foster and felt like they were set at running back. Now that same owner is trying to find start able running backs on the waiver wire.

Last week I gave you Matt Ryan and Ryan Fitzpatrick as my two main streamers in 10 to 12 man leagues. They finished as the number two and number nine ranked quarterback. Teams with two quarterbacks will begin dropping their backups soon as bye weeks and injuries make their bench space scarce. This will make streaming much easier in the coming weeks. So please, keep your depth, read this column every week and don’t panic for the season is dark and full of terrors.

As always, a couple of things to remember when streaming: 1) don’t get too attached, look at the next matchup and check this column next week before keeping one of these quarterbacks. 2) This is not a start/sit column. Always check the FLAFFL House consensus rankings before making lineup decisions.

Quarterbacks

Matt Ryan, at New Orleans, ownership percentage: 48

Matty Ice is on fire and makes the column for the third week in a row. I’m staying in the flames with Ryan while I can as my instinct tells me he won’t be eligible for this column next week. The Falcons travel to New Orleans this week and don’t be fooled by that game against the Giants on Sunday, New Orleans didn’t suddenly become a defense you should fear. Even though they only allowed 16 points, they still gave up 368 passing yards to Eli Manning.

Ryan has torched the New Orleans saints over the past two seasons averaging 350 passing yards and 2 touchdowns in each contest. Unlike 2014 and 2015 however, the Falcons have more weapons in the passing game than just Julio Jones with Mohammed Sanu playing on the other side and Jacob Tamme and Tevin Coleman emerging as nice short and intermediate weapons. Also, in case you’ve missed it, the Falcons defense is terrible.

They’ve allowed 31 and 28 points in the first two weeks, so even if they’re leading Ryan will still need to throw as no lead is safe. I look for it to be a high scoring matchup on Monday night and Ryan should safely be a top 5 to 8 quarterback this week. If you’ve streamed him the last three weeks like I have advised however, I wouldn’t get too attached. The Falcons next three games are vs. Carolina, at Denver and at Seattle. If Ryan has a big game like I expect, sell him high to a quarterback needy team and come back next week for other streaming options.

Ryan Tannehill, vs Cleveland, ownership percentage: 25.6

 I understand what you have to be thinking; am I really going to trust Ryan Tannehill with my fantasy team? Tannehill has been a fantasy sleeper every offseason since he was drafted in 2012, only to disappoint owners every year. People in the fantasy community vow every season to not be fooled again only to be wowed by his athleticism and arm strength. Streaming isn't about past grudges or disappointments however, streaming is about looking at the matchups and giving yourself the best chance to get solid production from the quarterback position without having to spend high draft capital or trade depth.

 As far as matchups go there are few teams in the NFL I would rather have my quarterback face than the Cleveland Browns. Cleveland has allowed 580 yards and four touchdowns through the first two weeks of the season, and gave up 25 unanswered points in their loss to the Baltimore Ravens on Sunday. Admittedly a majority of Tannehill’s production Sunday came in the second half after the Dolphins were trailing 31 to 3, but he was impressive nonetheless and brought them back within a touchdown.

Tannehill excelled when the Dolphins were forced to abandon the run and this week they may have no choice on Sunday since Arian Foster is expected to miss the game with a strained groin. Jarvis Landry has been a consistent reliable threat since entering the league, but for the first time he may not be the only option in the passing game as Devante Parker showed why he was a first round pick being targeted 13 times and catching eight passes for 106 yards. With the emergence of other weapons and likely a high volume of pass attempts due to Foster being injured, Tannehill is as sure of a bet as there is to throw for 250 yards and 2 touchdowns and could add 30 to 40 yards on the ground. I view him as a top 10 play and depending on game flow could end up as a top three quarterback this week.

Dak Prescott, vs. Chicago, ownership percentage: 44.3

The Dak Attack is back baby! This week the Dallas Cowboys welcome the Chicago Bears and their Maids of the Midway defense. Dak looked more impressive against the Redskins, passing for almost 300 yards and taking his yards per attempt from 5 to 9.7. Prescott also seems to have figured out that Dez Bryant is pretty good at football, targeting the receiver 12 times. This stream is less about Dak and more about the Bears terrible defense.

The Bears gave up 29 points last week to a rookie quarterback in their home opener on Monday night, and it could have been much worse had they not been able to stop the Eagles three times in the red zone. The Eagles were able to throw the ball at will against a defense without its top corner back in Kyle Fuller and the Bears may be without their top defensive lineman this week as Eddie Goldman was carted off the field with a leg injury.

The Cowboys dependency on the run caps Prescott’s upside, but I think this will be a dominant game for Dez Bryant and Jason Witten. I view Dak as a top 12 play this week with limited upside but a very high floor.

Deep League Dart Throw

Carson Wentz, vs. Pittsburgh, ownership percentage: 19.5

As a guy that was skeptical of Carson Wentz coming into the draft I have to admit the kid is really impressing me. His numbers don’t jump off the page, as he only passed for 190 yards and a touchdown, but they also don’t tell the whole story. If not for key drops by some of his receivers, Wentz would have had a much bigger day.

Doug Peterson has shown that he’s not afraid to let Wentz sling the ball, as the Eagles ran a lot of spread packages and no huddle on Monday night. While Philadelphia is a nice story in the beginning of the season, I expect them to fall back to earth this Sunday against the Pittsburgh Steelers. I see Pittsburgh jumping out to a two or three touchdown lead early in the game but from a fantasy perspective this should be great for Wentz, as garbage time points still count and he has one of the best garbage time receivers in the league in Jordan Matthews. If you’re in a deep league and just lost Jay Cutler or Josh McCown, you can do a lot worse than Wentz who I view as a top 15 quarterback with plenty of upside.

Tight Ends

Dennis Pitta, at Jacksonville, ownership percentage: 10.8

Dennis Pitta is relevant again, and it looks like no one is happier about it than Joe Flacco. Flacco targeted his best friend 12 times last week for 102 yards. Flacco has shown the desire to target the tight end in the past, especially when Pitta is healthy. Jacksonville was 28th versus the tight end last year and gave up a touchdown to Antonio Gates last week in the 38 to 14 San Diego beating.

I think this will be a much more competitive game for Jacksonville, which should make Flacco need to throw the ball more. Pitta should continue to be the highest targeted pass catcher on the Ravens and I view him as a top 10 play this week and for the season should he stay healthy. If you’re an owner who invested heavily in Gary Barnidge or Coby Fleener, I would drop either of them for Pitta and feel fine about it.

Jacob Tamme, at New Orleans, ownership percentage: 10.9

Tamme has emerged as the possible number two option in the Atlanta passing game with eight targets in each of the first two weeks. That kind of usage is hard to find for any tight end especially one owned in just 10 percent of leagues. In 2015 New Orleans was the worst defense against the tight end by a considerable margin allowing an average of 78 yards per game, 15 yards per game more than the next team.

As I said in the Matt Ryan section, I expect Monday night to be one of the higher scoring games of the weekend. I view Tamme as a top 12 play this week with top 5 upside this week and could emerge as a nice season long option should you be in need and miss out on Dennis Pitta.

Defenses

Miami Dolphins, vs. Cleveland, ownership percentage: 5.8

Well the hits just keep on coming for Cleveland Browns fans as a Josh McCown injury will force them to start their third quarterback in as many contests. The Dolphins were lit up last week by Jimmy Garappolo, but rookie Cody Kessler might be just the person they need to help them get back on track. The Dolphins scored 11 points in week 1 against a struggling Seattle offense that on its worse day is much better than Cleveland.

Cleveland continues to be the offense I want to follow when streaming defenses. As long as Miami can stop running back Isaiah Crowell, I don’t see Cleveland being able to do much offensively. I view Miami as the best streaming option of the week, a top 10 defense with number 1 upside.

New York Giants, vs. Washington, ownership percentage: 4.1

They say that you can’t change your team through free agency alone, but the Giants are showing they may be the exception to the rule. Free agent acquisitions Damon Harrison, Olivier Vernon and Janoris Jenkins have proven their worth in the first two weeks of the season and turned one of 2015’s worst defensive units into one of 2016’s best.

The Giant’s should be able to stop Washington’s mediocre running game and if they can get pressure with their front four, Cousins is sure to throw a couple interceptions their way. The Giants defense scored 15 points last week against a much better New Orleans offense and is a top 10 play this week with the potential to emerge as a decent every week start.