Streaming your starting QB, TE, or D/ST isn't the goal in fantasy football. But, if you're weak at a position where you only have to start one player, picking up usable fantasy weeks from the waiver wire can be a beneficial process. In typical start-one quarterback, tight end, and D/ST 12-team formats, most of your league mates won't -- and shouldn't -- carry a backup QB or D/ST. Positional scarcity leaves the waiver wire flush with plausible weekly starting options based on their matchup and expected game-flow.
Simply put, because quarterback and defensive matchups are easier to predict and their output varies less on a weekly basis, sharp fantasy owners have an edge in their leagues if they can stream their "onesie" positions (usually their defense) better than their opponent.
Here are the Week 5 streamers:
Starting the streaming column out with Blake Bortles is not a good feeling. Through four weeks, Bortles is up to his usual, inconsistent ways. He has two top-ten fantasy outings paired with two terrible performances, finishing outside of the top-20 fantasy signal-callers in Week 1 and Week 3.
This week, we should get "good" Blake. The Chiefs flame-able secondary is allowing the second-most pass YPG (343), the ninth-highest passer rating (94.7), and the 11th-most fantasy points per dropback. What's more, Leonard Fournette's absence (hamstring) only bodes well for Bortles' projection. In games without Fournette in the lineup over the last two years, Bortles averages 24.9 fantasy points per game versus 18.7 FPG when Fournette plays.
Flacco has been far from a fantasy viable option for most of his career, but he's off to perhaps the best start of his career in 2018. In Weeks 1-4, Flacco has topped 275 yards and/or thrown multiple passing scores in each contest. Flacco's weekly finishes (QB7, QB18, QB13, QB12) show a reasonable floor and ceiling for a quarterback near the tail end of his career. It won't make you feel warm and fuzzy, but Flacco's slight re-birth puts up him squarely on the streaming radar in Week 5 against a Browns defense Flacco has flamed for 280-plus yards and/or multiple passing TDs in his last four contests against them. Cleveland's defense is significantly more efficient this season, but they've still allowed the eighth-most pass yards per game.
Even at this early point of the season, it's getting hard to find two tight ends that feel like decent fantasy streamers. Injuries have completely hampered any semblance of depth at the position. Most managers will do well to find 6-8 points every week to stay afloat.
Through four games without S Eric Berry (heel), the Chiefs are getting whacked by enemy tight ends. So far, Kansas City has allowed the third-most YPG to the position (90.3) after permitting 8/164/1 (Steelers TEs), 5/79 (George Kittle), and 5/74 (Broncos TEs) receiving over their last three games. Seferian-Jenkins has yet to top 25 yards this season, but he's seen a consistent target load (5, 5, 5, 4) and is running a pass route on 63 percent of Blake Bortles' dropbacks, per PFF.
ASJ may feel like a thin play in Week 5, but he's by far the best streaming option for Week 5. The remaining two plays are darts:
There is some dissonance over who is going to take over as the Bengals starting tight end after Tyler Eifert suffered another unlucky injury. For clarity, Tyler Kroft led Cincy's tight end committee when Eifert missed most of last year and put up 8.9 fantasy points per game (TE14 in PPR), but C.J. Uzomah has played well ahead of Kroft as the Bengals' No. 2 tight end so far. Per PFF, Uzomah has run 75 pass routes to Kroft's minuscule 25 routes this season. Cincinnati could keep Uzomah in his role and elevate Kroft as the "starter" in place of Eifert again, but right now -- Uzomah is ahead of Kroft in both snap rate (59 percent to 34 percent) and targets (8 to 5). Miami has allowed at least eight PPR points to each TE they have faced this season, putting Uzomah at least in play for Week 5.
Without Will Dissly (knee) for much of Week 4, Nick Vannett dominated Seattle's tight end usage. Dissly went down after eight snaps, forcing Vannett to run a pass route on 26 of Russell Wilson's 32 dropbacks, per PFF. Vannett only saw two targets, but his full-time usage mixed with the Seahawks' continued convoluted target tree could open up a stream-worthy role for Vannett. Before going down, Will Dissly saw a reasonable 13.5 percent of Russell Wilson's targets in Weeks 1-3. The Rams' one deficiency on defense so far has been against tight ends, allowing 6.3 receptions (fourth-most) and 82.0 YPG (fifth-most) to the position. L.A. has allowed at least 50 yards to tight ends in 3-of-4 contests this season.
There are three solid streaming options at defense this week, but only one is the clear-cut No. 1 choice. Our entire staff has Tennessee has a consensus top-three D/ST for Week 5 and they are widely available on the NFL.com fantasy platform.
This is an auto-play that everyone in your fantasy league will want to make. The Titans are forcing pressure at the NFL's highest rate (32 percent, per Next Gen Stats) and have 12 sacks to show for it (tied for seventh-most). Now, Tennessee faces Josh Allen -- who has absorbed a sack on an other-worldly 15 percent of his dropbacks, by far the highest rate in the NFL. Opposing defenses have finished as a top-six weekly scorer against Buffalo three times this season already. Load up.
Arizona is blitzing at the league's highest rate (46 percent, per Next Gen Stats), creating a potential disaster scenario for C.J. Beathard and the Niners shaky offensive line. In Weeks 1-4, San Francisco has allowed pressure on 38 percent of their quarterback's dropbacks, the second-highest rate behind only Minnesota (39.6 percent). The Chargers only sacked Beathard once in Week 4, but they pressured him 12 times on just 37 attempts. Now facing an incredibly blitz-heavy, aggressive Cardinals' side -- Beathard and Co. may be in trouble in Week 5. Arizona makes for an intriguing option for ceiling seekers if the Titans D/ST is taken.
Miami might be 3-1 to start the year, but don't let their somewhat fluky record fool you. The 'Fins offense is struggling. Ryan Tannehill and Co. are second-from-last in plays per game (50.0), they are fourth-from-last in yards gained per drive (23.4), and fifth-from-last in drives ending in a score (29.5 percent). The Bengals D/ST failed to score a single fantasy point in Weeks 3-4 in two road shootouts against Carolina and Atlanta, but their returning home date against Miami in Week 5 should breathe life back into the usually solid unit.