The Quarterback Streaming Challenge: Week 10

A look in at the current state of the Quarterback Streaming Challenge.

Welcome to week 10 of the Quarterback Streaming Challenge. As a quick recap: previous research of mine has found that quarterbacks average fewer points per game in weeks they were started than they do in weeks they were left on the bench. This finding challenges one of the underlying principles of quarterback streaming, which states that by assiduously selecting favorable matchups, one could get production from a player that exceeds his usual total.

Faced with this disconnect, I've designed a controlled experiment to test the hypothesis. I have invited 21 participants to try their hand at streaming quarterbacks based on a real fantasy football industry experts league. These participants are largely writers and contributors at various fantasy football sites— seven here at Footballguys, nine from elsewhere around the web— with five additional at-large spots awarded to fans.

This is primarily an attempt to measure the performance of the Late Round Quarterback strategy, as well as our ability to predict matchups without the benefit of hindsight. With that said, I'll be publishing a recap of how things stand every week so that it can serve as a roadmap for those of you who find yourself streaming in your own fantasy leagues.

Let's talk about consistency.

As I've said, one of the great things about this particular setup is that it lets me collect data and analyze questions I never would have thought to ask. And for some reason, after last week I find myself wondering if streaming quarterbacks is a higher-variance play. For a preliminary look, here are how many points our 21 participants have averaged through the first nine weeks of the season:

19.3
17.1
20.4
18.6
16.1
21.1
18.6
19.5
26.3

(Yeah, you can probably see why variance is on my mind.)

For the control group, the league we are tracking, here are the same weekly averages:

21.3
21.7
20.8
19.3
20.3
20.8
17.4
22.3
21.4

Obviously that is a much tighter range of performance. Indeed, statistics bears this out: the standard deviation of the first sample is 2.92 points. The standard deviation of the second is 1.47.

Statistlcally-savvy owners have probably noticed the problem here, though. Our control is a 12-team league, which means 12 different starting quarterbacks every week. Our group is 21 teams, which is superficially a larger number... but that number contains an awful lot of overlap. During last week's explosion, for instance, 15 out of 21 teams in our sample started either Matt Ryan, Colin Kaepernick, or Marcus Mariota. All told, there were only seven different starters among our streamers.

How much of that lower standard deviation from the control group is the result of sample size and how much is inherent to drafting quarterbacks early? A full analysis will have to wait until after the conclusion of the project. But in the meantime, it's one more question I'd never thought to ask but look forward to answering.

(As an aside: while I don't know if streamers are more consistent or less, I'm not sweating it either way; despite the attention it garners, consistency is virtually meaningless in terms of winning fantasy football games.)

With just four weeks left to go before the fantasy playoffs bring our project to a close, our participants have largely settled on a stable duo to ride on a weekly basis. Here are this week's free agent additions:

And the declared starters so far:

Best of luck to our participants, and to everyone following along at home in your own weekly streams.