The Quarterback Streaming Challenge: Week 3

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

Welcome to the second 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 last week's introduction, I detailed the participants' expectations going in to the challenge and promised this week I would outline the methodology.

Mechanically, the challenge is simple. I have selected an industry experts league that will serve as a basis for our streaming challenge. Industry leagues tend to be favorable settings, because quarterbacks tend to be drafted later and teams tend to roster fewer at any given time. This means it should be a fertile environment for potential streamers, (which is useful, as the streamers will essentially function as a thirteenth franchise).

The participants were instructed to select two initial quarterbacks to start their team with. Since they are meant to be executing a late-round quarterback strategy, they were not allowed to select any of the top 16 quarterbacks by ADP, nor could they select two of the top 24.

Once selected, quarterbacks would remain on their "roster" unless and until they were dropped for someone else. If the participants hit on this year's Carson Palmer and simply wanted to keep starting the same quarterback week after week, they are free to do so. If they would rather attempt a quarterback-by-committee approach, alternating two players whose schedules pair together nicely, they are free to do that, too.

The league operates with blind-bidding waivers, and if they want to claim different quarterbacks, they are also free to do that; waiver claims are submitted to me, and I compare them against the actual winning bids in the league itself. If the participants outbid the highest bidder, they get the player in question. If they don't, they don't.

After waivers, participants are allowed to add and drop quarterbacks freely in a simulated "first-come, first-serve" free agency. Finally, once they are satisfied with their two quarterbacks, they will select one of them as the starter for the week, and they will receive that player's point total.

Because of the way the experiment is being run, each of the 21 participants essentially functions as the 13th team in the league. Because of this, resources are a small bit more scarce than they might have been in a true 12-team league. I believe the fact that this is an industry league should help offset this small disadvantage to give a much truer representation of the success rate of the strategy.

Week 2 was a mixed bag in the challenge, with week 1 hero Alex Smith and hot waiver-wire commodity Jay Cutler both putting up single-digit fantasy performances. On the other hand, Matt Ryan for the second week in a row provided brand-name production for cut-rate prices.

With waivers run, here are the hottest adds heading into week 3, (the dollars in parentheses represent the bid. If there is no dollar amount, the player was added for free in first-come, first-serve free agency.)

With $91 total spent on him, Tannehill was clearly the top prize heading into week 3. And, as expected, the weekly starters list reflects that, (with 18 of 21 teams reporting in so far):

I will continue to update this article as more free agent transactions come in and starters are declared. Best of luck to all participants this week, and to all of you at home who are cobbling together a quarterback stream of your own.

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