The Quarterback Streaming Challenge: Week 4

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

Welcome to the third installment 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.


In our first installment, we discussed expectations coming into this project. In the second, I went over the methodology. Those two articles were really just stalling for time until we started to gather enough data to do some preliminary analysis. With the huge caveat emptor that the sample size is still incredibly small, with three weeks it's probably worthwhile to peek in at early returns.

First off, two of our 21 teams, despite devoting practically no resources to the position, have managed to outscore all but one actual team in the league our project is modeled on. Another four teams, (so six in total), have managed to beat the league average. Those six teams have spent a combined $5 on waiver claims. This is the dream scenario of the Late Round QB strategy— above average production with virtually zero resources spent beyond a pair of roster spots.

On the other end of the spectrum, five of the 21 participants have scored fewer points at the quarterback position than all twelve teams in our model league, which illustrates the downside risk of the strategy, too. Right now, the odds of being above-average are roughly the same as the odds of being league-worst. It will be interesting to watch this ratio as the season progresses to see if it holds constant.

The twelve teams in the league we are tracking average 21.28 points per game from the quarterback position. The 21 participants in our study are averaging 18.76 points per game, a deficit of about 2.5 points. This shouldn't necessarily be concerning— again, remember that our participants have invested practically no resources at the position. We should expect teams that spent more at quarterback to average more points. We're merely trying to quantify the opportunity cost of that additional investment.

As an interesting aside, in the preseason questionaire, the average of all participants' answers on how much they expected to average at the position this year was... 18.76 points. So far, score one for the wisdome of crowds when it comes to properly-calibrated expectations!

As always, with waivers run, here are the adds heading into week 4:

Teams are mostly standing pat with their current quarterbacks this week. Here are the declared starters to this point:

Last week's collective Ryan Tannehill love proved to be well-founded, as the Dolphins' quarterback scored 24.96 points. Those who stayed with him an extra week, however, were rewarded with an 11.56 on Thursday Night Football. We'll see if this week's top starter, Joe Flacco, can replicate Tannehill's success in week 3.


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