There were only four quarterbacks in the NFL last season to score more fantasy points than Andy Dalton.
The average football fan is well aware that Dalton is far from an elite NFL quarterback. His deep ball accuracy is inconsistent, footwork is off and has yet to win a playoff game with the Bengals. However, in 2013, he had a few outings where he posted Madden-like numbers. Gangbusters, if you will. He greatly benefited from and exploited plus matchups in fantasy, rewarding fantasy owners. He dominates against the weaker pass defenses in the league.
Andy Dalton is the ideal quarterback streaming option.
Denny Carter of XN Sports broke down how streaming caliber quarterbacks fare against the best and worst secondaries in the NFL last year, and Dalton was one of those passers he examined. Using the RotoViz Games Split App, Carter noticed that in 18 games against top-10 passing defenses, Dalton averaged just 15.9 fantasy points per game, which is basically replaceable in fantasy leagues. However, against the league’s bottom secondaries, Dalton averaged a healthy 23.4 fantasy points per game in 30 such contests, making for an insane 32 percent difference in production. That’s the definition of a streaming quarterback– someone who you know can produce in a good matchup, who also shouldn’t be touched against elite defenses. So, after exploiting a handful of matchups against teams like the Vikings, Lions and Bills last year, what might 2014 have in store for Dalton?
Let’s just say he’s not going to be a top-five fantasy passer again.
This season, Dalton faces seven teams that ranked inside the top-12 in pass defense last year, but that isn’t to say he isn’t worthy of a start, either. Dalton gets some friendly matchups like the Falcons, Bucs and Jaguars this year, and that matchup against Jacksonville couldn’t come at a better time for fantasy owners.
Week 2 vs ATL (no byes): While there may not be any byes in Week 2, there are quarterbacks with rough matchups, and you might feel more comfortable rolling Dalton out there. For instance, Philip Rivers gets the vaunted Seattle secondary, while Jay Cutler faces the 49ers tough defense. As for the Falcons, this defense was atrocious last year, allowing the second-most fantasy points to passers, the fourth-most passing touchdowns (31), most plays of 40 yards or more (17) and the most yards per pass attempt (7.6). Dalton could easily be a top-five passer for Week 2 against this Falcons unit.
Week 9 vs JAC (Rodgers, Stafford, Cutler, Ryan): Dalton is going to be a very popular waiver wire add heading into Week 9, assuming he isn’t drafted in your standard 12-team league. Four top-12 passers are on a bye during Week 9, including two top-four guys. Meanwhile, the Jaguars struggled against the pass last year, surrendering 247.6 yards per game (9th-most), 1.8 passing scores per game (10th-most) and 29 aerial scores (7th-most). They also only picked off 11 passes last year, the fourth-fewest in the NFL. With zero presence in the secondary, A.J. Green could have a field day against this unit, and as a result, Dalton would seriously reap the benefits. In his career against the Jags, Dalton is 41-of-64 for 423 yards, four scores and two interceptions.
Week 10 vs CLE ( Luck, Griffin, Rivers, Brady): The Browns may be a bit better against the pass this year, but I do think you could do a lot worse if you need to replace one of the above players. Cleveland allowed 29 passing touchdowns last year, allowed the 13th-most fantasy points per game to opposing signal callers and last year, opposing offenses threw the ball 37.8 times per game against the Browns, good for the 6th-most in football. This secondary gives up a handful of big plays and Dalton is very familiar with his division rival.