Welcome to the fifth 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.
One thing that I've been very interested to see during the course of this project is just how much room there is for divergence in a LRQB / Streaming approach. Going in, I didn't know whether there would be a single obvious choice every week, or whether there would be a variety of different options that all got played. To this point, the latter has certainly been the case.
This is a great thing from a data-collection standpoint. If everyone started the project with Matt Ryan, then the results would be less an investigation of how successful streaming quarterbacks can be and more a referendum on Matt Ryan's value this preseason.
I'm surprised to see not just the diversity of quarterbacks that are being rostered, but even the diversity of outcomes among owners rostering the same quarterbacks. For instance, five teams opened the competition with Matt Ryan as one of their two quarterbacks. You'd assume that those five teams look pretty similar to this point, but they don't. One is averaging 23.48 points per game, one is averaging 23.11, one is averaging 18.96, one is averaging 17.91, and one is actually averaging 16.31 points per game, which ranks 18th out of the 21 participants.
Perhaps you assume that the person with 16.31 points per game just took too long to realize what he had and has given Matt Ryan the fewest starts so far. Actually, the opposite is the case. He has started Matt Ryan in four out of the six weeks, more than three of the other owners. The problem is that the two weeks he benched Ryan happened to be Ryan's two best weeks of the season.
This is really interesting to me, because one of my assumptions coming in was that identifying the right quarterbacks was going to be the key to success in the project. But this owner has identified the right quarterback, and has started him quite often, all things considered. But the value of those huge weeks simply cannot be underestimated
This is an interesting and comforting observation as, for the second week in a row, more than half of our participants have rostered Marcus Mariota. A month ago, I would have worried that this would be a negative for the quality of our data, turning the project into a referendum on Marcus Mariota in particular instead of streaming in general.
But now I'm rather excited about the kind of data we'll be getting over the next few weeks, particularly if Marcus Mariota proves to be one if this season's breakout stars. Because owning a player is one thing, but using him properly is another entirely.
After a busy week on the waivers last week, most participants have opted to continue to roll with who they have. Here are this week's waiver claims:
And this week's starters so far:
- Marcus Mariota (x6)
- Matt Ryan (x5)
- Colin Kaepernick (x3)
- Andy Dalton (x3)
- Tyrod Taylor (x2)
- Alex Smith
(As an interesting aside, this is the first time since back in week 1 that every team with Matt Ryan is choosing to start him.)
Best of luck to our participants, and to everyone following along at home in your own weekly streams.
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