For several years now, "streaming" positions has become an extremely viable fantasy strategy. What is streaming you might be asking? It entails playing the waiver-wire and matchups at positions on your fantasy roster where you only need to start one player -- quarterback, tight end, and defense (don't you dare @ me about kickers). Since most leagues are only 10-14 teams deep and there are 32 teams playing most weekends in the NFL, there are plenty of starting players at these positions frequently available on the waiver wire for savvy fantasy managers to pick up and start.
The point in streaming positions like quarterback and tight end is to avoid investing heavily in them on draft day, instead allowing you to load up on the much more important and volatile running backs and wide receivers. As part of a short series before the season, each week I'll profile some streaming options at each "onesie" position listed above who should be available extremely late in your draft or on the waiver wire prior to Week 1. By waiting until the final rounds of your draft or for waivers to pick these players, you can set your squad up to better survive the trials, tribulations and injuries of a typical fantasy season.
If you like this way of playing the game or want more in-depth analysis on streaming players and matchups, be sure to check out the "Living the Stream" podcast, which focuses (mostly) on weekly streaming matchups to exploit.
While Carson Palmer was overall a fantasy disappointment in 2016, finishing as the QB18, he ended the season with strong outings, scoring 17.6 fantasy points per game over his final nine contests. He should theoretically have more weapons available in the passing attack if John Brown can get healthy and Jaron Brown continues his ascent. All of this paints a lovely picture as Palmer heads into the dome in Detroit for a matchup with 2016's 32nd-ranked defense based on Football Outsider's DVOA metric. Palmer threw at least one touchdown pass in each of his final nine games and tossed two or more scores in seven. The Lions secondary allowed a touchdown pass in 14 of 16 games last year, but conceded two or more 10 times. The Lions added D.J. Hayden in free agency and drafted Teez Tabor in the second round, but neither is the type of player to completely turn around this secondary. Palmer should be able to hit the ground running in 2017 and represents a great option as a late-round signal-caller, as he has two more juicy matchups (Colts, 49ers) in his opening four games.
Before you grab your tiki torches and pitch forks and crusade into my mentions, hear me out. Bradford put together a sneakily good season in 2016, and finished on a strong note, posting a passer rating of 100-plus points three times in his final four games while averaging 18.3 fantasy points per contest -- and that includes a 7.6-point dud in Week 15. With a full offseason in coordinator Pat Shurmur's system and a deeper rapport with a healthy Stefon Diggs and Adam Thielen, Bradford and the Vikings passing attack could surprise in 2017. They'll get a chance to prove their mettle in Week 1 against the seriously suspect Saints secondary. Pretty much anyway you cut it, this unit was a disaster in 2016: 30th in passing yards allowed, 30th in Football Outsiders' defensive DVOA, 27 passing touchdowns allowed to nine interceptions ... I could go on but I'll stop there. The team started to address the position by taking Marshon Lattimore in the first round of the NFL draft, but they also just lost the versatile Delvin Breaux to a fractured fibula. The Vikings also get the benefit of playing at home, with their top-notch defense potentially creating some turnovers or shortened fields for Bradford. Bradford was also slightly better at home in 2016, posting higher touchdown rates and yards per attempt figures in U.S. Bank Stadium.
This last one is a little spicy, but there's reason to believe in Brian Hoyer as a potential Week 1 starting quarterback. Last year in four starts for the Bears (tossing out the one he left early with an injury), Hoyer averaged 330 yards, 1.5 touchdowns and no interceptions per game. If you stretch back through his last 12 starts, he averages 1.67 TDs per game, .41 INTs, and 262.2 yards per game, or roughly 16-17 fantasy points. Carolina's secondary is in a bit of a rebuild after letting Josh Norman leave last year, and while the unit has some talented youngsters it did allow the second-most passing yards in the league in 2016. The team added some veterans in the offseason, signing Julius Peppers, Mike Adams, and Captain Munnerlyn, but that group boasts a combined 36 years of service in the NFL. Assuming Cam Newton is fully healthy for Week 1, the Panthers should be able to maintain a solid lead over the 49ers, which would put Hoyer and the 49ers into a pass-heavy game script. That bodes well for his fantasy potential in a home matchup with offensive mastermind Kyle Shanahan calling plays. This is the riskiest of my streaming suggestions, but in deeper leagues or DFS formats, Hoyer is certainly in play.