The most conventional way to build a Fantasy Football roster is to draft running backs and wide receivers early and often. Travis Kelce has tried to change that as of late, and you should absolutely draft him or Mark Andrews if they're available in Round 2, but for the most part you should be thinking about getting as many ball carriers and wide receivers as you can early in the draft. Those also happen to be the two most important positions to build depth.
But as much as we in the industry seem to push this, it's worth acknowledging that a lot of the drafts that do not include Fantasy analysts do not go according to our plans. Quarterbacks go in Round 1 often enough that we generally have at least one of them with a Round 1 ADP by August. And that's not all. We see defenses and even kickers sneak into the single-digit rounds.
That's a blessing if you're just trying to load up on skill position players, but it can also be a curse when you realize you don't have a shot at a top-10 quarterback, defense, or kicker. One way to overcome that curse is to draft to stream. Or to put it another way, draft with the early season schedule in mind.
The truth is that all but the top five or six defenses and kickers are streamers, as long as you aren't too lazy to make the moves. But it is easier to stream some positions than others. I prefer quarterback and defense to tight end and kicker, which is why I've ranked them in the order I have. That being said, quarterback has been more difficult to stream the past two years because of how elite the best QBs have been, which is something to keep in mind if you catch lightning in a bottle early in the year.
While I don't know how all of your drafts are going to go, all of these players are ranked outside the top 12 at their positions by consensus rankings, so at least two of them should be available late in most drafts. Just don't try to stream too many positions because that can become a real problem when it's time to go to the waiver wire and replace them.
If Michael Thomas is back to 100%, there is a sneaky chance that Winston could be a top-12 quarterback all season. We've seen it before, and the Saints' receiving corps looks pretty stacked with Thomas, Jarvis Landry, and first-round pick Chris Olave. At the very least, Winston should be able to do whatever he wants against the Falcons in Week 1, and Week 2 brings a revenge game at home where he'll likely be chasing the score.
If you're going to start off with a couple of road games, it might as well be against two of the worst defenses in the league. Matt Ryan gets a soft landing in his first two games for the Colts. While pass volume could be a problem all season, these defenses may be bad enough for Ryan to score 25 Fantasy points on 25 pass attempts.
Wentz was actually a pretty high-end QB2 in Indianapolis last year, and there's a strong argument that he'll have more pass attempts and better pass-catching weapons this year in Washington. One thing is for sure: he shouldn't face much pressure early on. The Jaguars and Lions both ranked in the bottom five in the league in sacks in 2021.
This was one of those times where I was researching for the article and changed my rankings because of it. The Browns may not see a top-25 quarterback in the first month of the season, and Myles Garrett is already licking his chops. The other defense in this game could be just as appealing if Jacoby Brissett is starting for the Browns. The Panthers get the Giants in Week 2, which could make them a multi-week streamer as well.
Commanders vs Jaguars, at Lions
The Commanders were a disappointment last year defensively, but Week 1 against a bad Jaguars team should get them off to a better start, especially if Chase Young is 100%. Assuming that goes well, I'd probably just stick with them for Week 2 against the Lions.
Titans vs Giants
Daniel Jones is the only player in the NFL with at least 25 interceptions thrown and 35 fumbles since the start of the 2019. That's made even more impressive by the fact that Jones has only played 38 of 49 possible games. The Giants are hopeful Brian Daboll can fix their offensive woes, but I wouldn't bet on him doing it Week 1 on the road.
Evan Engram at Washington, vs Colts
Engram received $8 million guaranteed in the offseason to play for Doug Pederson's Jaguars. In Pederson's last three seasons in Philadelphia, his Eagles dwarfed the rest of the league with a 33% tight end target share. There's no guarantee that carries over, but it's not a bad thing to bet on for a tight end being drafted in the double-digit rounds. If that target share does carry over, you're probably done streaming.
I actually believe Smith could be a top-12 tight end all season, so his consensus ranking outside the top 15 makes him both a great value and a good streaming option. The Packers were a mediocre defense against tight ends last year and the Colts were flat-out bad. At the very least, I would expect plenty of passing from Kirk Cousins and the Vikings in Week 1.
Gerald Everett signed with Justin Herbert and the Chargers in the offseason, and he'll face a Raiders defense in Week 1 that allowed the third-most touchdowns to tight ends. This is a new regime, so those numbers may not mean much, but I would expect the Chargers to have one of the highest implied totals in Week 1 and be towards the top of the league in pass attempts. That's not a bad way to pick a streamer.
Rodrigo Blankenship vs Texans, at Jaguars
For the most part I would like streaming kickers whose teams are favored and who are playing bad defenses in favorable kicking environments. Blankenship gets all three in Week 1 and two out of three in Week 2. We'll take it.
Jake Elliott at Lions, vs Vikings
Like Blankenship, Elliott's first matchup is absolutely perfect, while his second leaves some to be desired. The sneaky part of this is that the Eagles could be a very good offense with A.J. Brown in the mix, which could mean more kicking opportunities than even the most optimistic expectations. Either way, Elliott should be a solid option in Detroit in Week 1.
This is where it gets dicey writing about streaming kickers in July. As of the time of press, Garibay is the only kicker on the Cowboys' roster. Whoever has this job in September (and Garibay is the current favorite) will begin the year with a couple of shootouts in the Jerry Dome. Just check the camp reports before you lock in your pick of a Cowboys kicker.