You can find our Cheap Dates segment every Thursday on The Fantasy Takeaway, but we only have time for one option per person. The last thing I want to do is leave listeners high and dry on streamers every week, so this year I'll be releasing a full version of Cheap Dates in written form every Wednesday or Thursday throughout the season, so let's get to it. For this week it's just QBs, TEs, and D/STs. If you didn't draft starting caliber
Cheap Dates – Week 1 Streamers:
Blake Bortles @ New York Giants (ESPN: 11.6%, Yahoo!: 34%, Fleaflicker: 54%)
Blake Bortles finished out the 2017 season on a tear. The coaching staff appeared more willing to open up the playbook and let Bortles sling it (with mixed results). Weeks 10-17 he was the number six fantasy quarterback, and in the fantasy playoffs (Weeks 14-16) he was number one.
The Jaguars defense should remain dominant in 2018, so this play is risky. If you decide to start Bortles Week 1 vs. New York, you're banking on Beckham being Beckham and that Giants offense being able to put up some points on that vaunted Jaguars D. Bortles might get game scripted out, but he should have ample opportunity to rack up yards against the Giants awful secondary. Last year, New York ranked 31st in passing yards allowed and gave up 18.7 fantasy points per game to the quarterback position (ESPN Scoring), dead last in the league.
Jared Goff @ Oakland Raiders (ESPN: 65%, Yahoo!: 86%, Fleaflicker: 86%)
Goff's ownership has been on the rise this week. He's only included here because he's still available in 35% of ESPN leagues. In 2017, he was one of the most predictable quarterbacks in all of the league for fantasy. His performance vs. average correlated with matchup difficulty at a clip higher than any other quarterback in the league. The Raiders defense is going to be awful in 2018. They were bad before they traded Khalil Mack. They're going to be atrocious now.
Goff got an upgrade over Sammy Watkins in Brandin Cooks, and this is his second year in the Sean McVay scheme. It's not a 1:1
Andy Dalton @ Indianapolis Colts (ESPN: 18.7%, Yahoo!: 26%, Fleaflicker: 40%)
Andrew Luck is back. Tyler Eifert is on schedule to play in Week 1. John Ross appears poised to put his injury-riddled rookie season behind him. The Colts Defense is mediocre at best, and the Bengals upgraded their swiss cheese offensive line. Need I say more? The game script, matchup, and improved weapons make Dalton an obvious stream for Week 1.
Jared Cook vs. Los Angeles Rams (ESPN: 26.7%, Yahoo!: 48%, Fleaflicker: 46%)
The Rams are stacked on the defensive side of the football. Their only real weakness is their linebacking corps. That's where Jared Cook comes in. Cook led the Raiders in receiving yards last year, and the last time Jon Gruden was on the sidelines, he coached Alex Smith, Jeramy Stevens, and John Gilmore (Who?) to six combined touchdowns. If he can stay healthy, Jared Cook could be a streamer-to-starter candidate this season, and with a juicy Week 1 matchup, this is a prime week to find out.
Austin Seferian-Jenkins @ New York Giants (ESPN: 24.8%, Yahoo!: 32%, Fleaflicker: 38%)
ASJ's ownership level for Week 1 is almost criminal. The ‘I stream tight ends' community should've been all over this matchup at the tail end of their fantasy drafts. Seferian-Jenkins put up double digits four times in favorable matchups last year; this is a favorable matchup. ASJ won't be the sexy play in Week 1, but he'll work in a pinch.
Jesse James @ Cleveland Browns (ESPN: 1%, Yahoo!: 3%, Fleaflicker: 12%)
The Deja Vu is real. It's Week 1. Vance McDonald is likely out or limited, and Le'Veon Bell is in the doghouse because he didn't show up to camp amidst contract disputes. What year is it?
Jesse James is a bit of a ‘Break Glass in Case of Emergency' play this week. If McDonald turns the corner and finds the playing field on Sunday vs. the Browns, it may be prudent to find production elsewhere. If McDonald is out or limited, James is an excellent option for streaming consideration in deeper leagues. With 22.1 PPR fantasy points last year in the Steelers Week 1 matchup with the Browns (also in McDonald's absence), and Le'Veon Bell likely seeing a lesser workload (if he shows up at all), fire up the outlaw this week.
Lions D/ST vs. New York Jets (ESPN: 29.2%, Yahoo!: 39%, Fleaflicker: 28%)
Josh McCown is out. Sam Darnold is in. Darnold turned the ball over 22 times as a senior at USC. The Lions had 19 interceptions, 19 forced fumbles, and 13 fumble recoveries with five defensive touchdowns scored in 2017. They might approach those numbers in this game. Well, maybe that's a bit hyperbolic, but this is an excellent matchup. I have the Lions as a top-five D/ST this week, and they're on the waiver wire in almost 3/4 of all leagues on ESPN. Get the Lions. Thank me later.
Falcons D/ST vs. Philadelphia Eagles (ESPN: 9.6%, Yahoo!: 35%, Fleaflicker: 21%)
The pool for streaming defenses is thinner this week than most. Hopefully, you drafted a defense with a favorable matchup in Week 1. If you're like me and you don't draft defenses at all in your early-drafting leagues, the Falcons are a strong consideration in Week 1. Nick Foles blasted through the playoffs on his way to the Eagles Super Bowl 52 victory, but his most significant roadblock came against the Falcons in the Divisional Round of the playoffs. The Falcons held the Eagles to just 15 points, 334 yards of total offense, and forced two turnovers. With the way Nick Foles and that Eagles offense looked in limited preseason action and Alshon Jeffery likely to miss Thursday night's game, I'm taking all the Falcons D/ST I can get.
Cleveland Browns vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (ESPN: 5.4%, Yahoo!: 6%, Fleaflicker: 10%)
We've already discussed the Deja Vu that is the Week 1 matchup between the Browns and Steelers. The Browns D/ST put up only 5 points in Week 1 last year, but with the additions of Denzel Ward, E.J. Gaines, T.J. Carrie, and Damarious Randall, the Browns secondary should be in a much better position to compete in 2018.
Ben Roethlisberger is a notoriously lousy road quarterback, and the narrative that things got better in 2017 is downright false. Roethlisberger carries a 10-year road touchdown to interception ratio of 1.52 to 1. He averages .71 fewer touchdowns and 24 fewer yards per game in road games than in home games over that same 10-year stretch. With Le'Veon Bell unlikely to get the workhorse workload we're accustomed to, it could be a rough game offensively for the Steelers. The Browns D/ST is a deep play but considering this week's matchups, it might be one you'll have to consider.