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Fantasy Football Week 1: Tight End, Kicker and Defense Streamers

Like most of us experts here at Roto Street Journal, I do not prioritize drafting tight ends, kickers or defenses. Rather, I choose to load up on the high point scoring skill players at the wide receiver and running back positions (positions that help win championships), giving myself a plethora of top options to choose from every week. So I draft the other positions late, knowing they are, for the most part, interchangeable. Unless you own Travis KelceRob Gronkowski (when healthy), Greg Olsen, or Jordan Reed (when healthy), there is not much difference in weekly points between the TE5 and the TE18. Same goes for kickers. I am glad that you drafted Stephen Gostkowski in the 10th round, I hope you enjoy a 10 point average per year. Me, on the other hand, I’ll stream every week to an 11-12 point average and maintain flexibility and draft Hunter Henry. Defense? Sure the Denver Broncos DST is great, but have fun playing them against dynamic offenses like the LA Chargers, Kansas City Chiefs or the Oakland Raiders, among others on their schedule. So this article is about streaming these positions each week and playing the every-crucial matchup game to maximize our weekly point total and maintain roster flexibility at the most important positions. Below you will not find household names, but rather those unsung, undrafted heroes that can help you put up well above average point totals at each position while allowing you to stack up on wideouts and backs. So let’s take a look at the tight end, kicker and defense streamers for Week 1.

Tight End

Austin Hooper, TE, Atlanta Falcons

I like my steaming tight ends to have huge upside. Go big, or go home. In a given week, managers generally hope to score somewhere in the low double digits from their tight end slot (unless you have one of the big 4 mentioned above who profile more as a WR2/1.5 than a tight end). So with that in mind, let’s look for a big tight end that has multiple touchdown scoring upside.

Does anyone think the Chicago Bears and Mike Glennon have a chance against the Atlanta Falcons Week 1? I didn’t think so. And neither does Vegas as they currently have the Falcons as a touchdown favorite on the road, with a game total over 50. So why does that matter? Well, first that means the Falcons should put up a lot of points, seeing they have a team total of almost 29 points, the highest on the board. And second, it is more than possible the Falcons, with a very large lead in the second half, decide to stop throwing to Julio Jones and stop riding Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman, and instead focus their attention to their 6’3” monster of a tight end, Austin Hooper.

I have already highlighted his massive potential in this offense as the fifth or even sixth option, so what better way to get other teams to seriously consider Hooper a threat than by force feeding him the ball Week 1, and adding yet another legitimate, explosive weapon to their already highly-potent arsenal. Look for the Bears to focus elsewhere and for this giant to roam around and take advantage of mismatches and open field throughout the game.  A few red zone targets for this brute, and a touchdown to get him going early in the season, is not out of the question.

Kicker

Phil Dawson, K, Arizona Cardinals

You will eventually notice a trend in these articles when it comes to the kicker selection. It is a rule I try not to ever break, and I will almost go out of my way to select someone to make sure I stream in accordance with the Golden Rule of Kicking Streamers: Always stream a kicker in a dome. Trust me on this one, you’ll thank me later for it. Last year, in my second year following this streaming strategy, I led my league in points out of the kicking position, averaging a little over 11 points per game. Even if you owned the highest scoring kicker last year (Matt Bryant), I still bested you. So let’s see which dome kicker will be playing in a high Vegas over/under game.

Phil Dawson and the Arizona Cardinals appear to fit the above quite nicely. For Dawson, there is plenty of reason to love this 42 year old kicker entering his 19th year of NFL experience. First, not only is Dawson one of the most accurate kickers in the NFL (87.8% since 2012), but he still possess a rocket of a leg that can help you pile up big points quickly (28/36 from 50+ since 2011). Second, the high-powered Cardinals offense squares off against a middle-of-the-road defense in the Detroit Lions in what is projected to be a close, high-scoring affair (current Vegas total of 48 points, fifth highest on the board). Throw in the fact that Dawson will be kicking inside the friendly confines of the dome in Ford Field, any kick from inside 52 yards should be a chip shot for this ageless sniper. Dawson should be a lock for 9 points, with the potential for 12-14 if he nails one long one.

Defense

Pittsburgh Steelers, DST

Defenses are strictly about matchups. Sure, the Seattle Seahawks, Minnesota Vikings and Houston Texas all field top defenses. But how comfortable are you trotting out Seattle Week 1 in Green Bay with a 50 point total? Or the Minnesota Vikings when they play the Packers? Or the Texans when they play the Patriots, Titans, Chiefs and Seahawks in a 4 out of 5 week stretch? Sure, they will still put up good numbers on the year and will probably rank as 3 of the best scoring fantasy defenses come seasons’ end, but why strap yourself by holding onto a defense each week that you drafted in the 10th round when you could have drafted potential sleepers and high-impact players like Thomas RawlsTed Ginn or Adam Thielen? And why draft in the 10th round what you could have had in the 14th round, coupled with extra research to help pick the proper streaming defense each week?

With the versatile and high-octane Pittsburgh offense travelling to Cleveland Week 1 for an AFC North rivalry showdown, the Pittsburgh Steelers DST should be playing from in front all game (Vegas currently has the Steelers as the biggest favorite this week at 9 points, and the Browns have the third lowest team total, in front of only the Jets and Jaguars). And that should only mean problems for the Browns and rookie quarterback DeShone Kizer. If the Browns are smart they will use their powerful offensive line to control the flow of the game and the clock, keeping the contest low scoring. However, I see Mike Tomlin stacking the box and forcing Kizer, in his first NFL start, to throw the ball early and often. And as we have seen with rookies in the past, they are quite turnover prone, which is exactly what you are looking for from a defense. Also, as a mobile, running quarterback, I see Kizer putting himself in dangerous waters scrambling against one of the better teams at sacking the quarterback, the other factor we care about in regards to fantasy defenses. Don’t look for the Browns to put up too many points in the opener and watch the Steelers pulverize and confuse this unproven rookie quarterback.

And that’s a wrap for Week 1 of the Fantasy Football Streamers. Be sure to check back every Wednesday to see where to turn to next and get the early leg up on your opponent. Until next time, good luck and godspeed Week 1, and may the fantasy football gods forever be in your favor.

To contact me with any questions or general fantasy football discussion, please email me at redsocker45@gmail.com or tweet me @AJGamballer.

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