The Quarterback Streaming Challenge: Week 9

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

Welcome to the ninth 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.


Some might question whether this experiment is undertaken to prove a point, but the truth is that I view this merely as a controlled experiment. And like any good experiment, while I enter with my hypotheses, I'm happy to go where the data leads me.

I've spent a lot of time so far talking about the participants in this project and how they are performing, but there's another crucial raft of data that is available for collection; the data from the specific league that I am modeling our experiment on.

Our participants are playing at a severe handicap. They did not have a chance to add any Drew Breeses or Andrew Lucks. So it's important to take a look at how the actual Drew Brees and Andrew Luck owners have fared with that advantage they were afforded.

According to league scoring, here are the top 12 quarterbacks in the league from weeks 1 to 8, along with how many times they were benched, what they average when they were started, and what they average when they were benched.

QuarterbackTimes BenchedPPG when StartedPPG when Benched
Matt Ryan 2 21.7 30.9
Andrew Luck 2 22.8 23.8
Drew Brees 0 24.8 n/a
Derek Carr 3 22.3 20.5
Aaron Rodgers 0 23.9 n/a
Matthew Stafford 3 19.6 22.3
Marcus Mariota 7 20.7 19.8
Kirk Cousins 6 16.6 20.6
Philip Rivers 4 23.9 14.5
Andy Dalton 5 22.0 17.5
Tyrod Taylor 5 19.4 17.8
Blake Bortles 2 20.0 23.41

There's... actually surprisingly little to see here. My hypothesis going in was that quarterbacks would have performed much better in weeks they were benched, but they actually did pretty comparably when benched and when started, (thanks in no small part to those amazing Philip Rivers splits).

Still, this is yet another data point to track when determining what the opportunity cost of waiting on quarterback is. If playing matchups is inefficient, this doesn't necessarily mean you shouldn't play matchups; if owners who draft quarterbacks earlier play matchups to a similar degree and with a similar inefficiency, the two inefficiences should offset and leave the streamers no worse off and with a substantially smaller investment, to boot.


As the regular season draws to a close our participants "rosters" continue to converge; 19 out of 42 rostered quarterbacks are either Marcus Mariota or Colin Kaepernick, and 17 out of 21 participants rostering at least one of the pair. Whether this proves to be a positive or a negative development in the home stretch remains to be seen. Here are this week's adds

And this week's declared starters:

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


More articles from Adam Harstad

See all

More articles on: QB

See all

More articles on: Strategy

See all