The purpose of the Shot
Caller’s Report is to identify players who I expect to perform
like quality fantasy starters for the given week and, on the flip
side, to expose some of the more highly-regarded players who just
may disappoint. Each week I will take into consideration not only
the individuals mentioned, but also the state of their teams and
their opponents, team schedules, historical performance, inclement
weather (when applicable), and of course injuries. In my years
of involvement with fantasy sports, I’ve found that playing
probabilities often leads to success, but that does not necessarily
mean that a journeyman RB cannot gain 100-plus rushing yards against
the top-ranked rush defense or that Tom Brady is a lock for 350
yards and 3 TDs against the worst pass defense. Anything can happen.
With this dynamic, stat-driven article layered with insight and
opinion, however, I aim to assist you in making the right roster
decisions for your fantasy squad. Got a specific roster question
or something interesting to say? Send
me an email. I may not be able to get to all of your questions
or comments, but I will do my best to respond accordingly.
Eli Manning vs. Dal
Although he is coming off two shoddy performances (1 TD, 4 INT
combined), you really just have to be excited about Eli’s
chances in what will be the NFL’s final regular season game
on New Year’s Day. Not only are the Giants at home, but
Eli also has history on his side as he has tossed more TDs against
Dallas (28) than any other NFL team. It is worth noting that Eli
has thrown for at least 306 yards In four of his last five games
against the Cowboys with 12 TDs & 7 INTs in that span. During
Week 13 in Dallas he threw for 400 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT; this
was his third 400-yard game this season. Expect more of the same
as the Cowboys consistently find ways to give up big plays. On
the season they have allowed 21 TDs and 238.3 passing yards per
Vick has 4 TDs in the last 2 games.
Michael Vick vs. Was
It’s been a long and undoubtedly disappointing season for
those who drafted him with lofty expectations, but Vick threw
for 293 yards last week with 2 TDs in Dallas for the first time
since Week 8 (also against the Cowboys). Interestingly, Vick hasn't
thrown more than 2 TDs in any game in 2011 (after doing so 3 times
in 2010), but heading into this season finale, he has posted a
QB-rating of at least 100 in consecutive games for the first time
this season. Keep in mind that he is still recovering from fractured
ribs and might not be as nimble as we’ve come to expect,
but a rushing TD is always a possibility – the ‘Skins
have served up 14 TDs on the ground (t-21st).
Tim Tebow vs. KC
Last week in Buffalo, Tebow was at his worst as he threw 3 INTs
in a game for the first time in his career. He also completed
less than 50% of his passes (44.8%) for the first time since Week
11, although he did throw for 1 TD and rush for another. This
week Denver is in must-win mode as Tebow will face his predecessor,
Kyle Orton and the Chiefs, as they try to keep Denver out of the
playoffs. Kansas City has not given up much through the air (211.4
passing yards per game), but that is not what Tebow’s game is
about. In this do-or die game, the Broncos will be more liberal
in their play calling and Tebow’s dual-threat scoring ability
will be on display. The Chiefs have allowed 23 aerial TDs and
14 rushing scores, numbers that Tebow figures to add to.
Aaron Rodgers vs. Det
There are no stats I can throw in here to warrant benching A-Rodge.
The best QB in the league is the most obvious fantasy start each
week, but the Packers have clinched home-field advantage throughout
the playoffs and it is unclear how much Rodgers will play in Week
17. Fantasy owners will have to decide if 1 potential quarter
(or 1 half) of Aaron Rodgers is better than a full game of stats
from their backup QB.
Palmer vs. SD
The Raiders win last week cemented that they have something to
play for in Week 17 – an AFC West Division Title or a Wild-Card
spot, which is more than can be said for their opponent. Still,
I would not expect San Diego to roll over and make it easy for
a bitter division rival. In eight starts this season, Palmer has
just 3 multiple TD passing games and he’s thrown 5 TDs and 8 INTs
in his last five starts. He was solid in San Diego during Week
10, throwing for 299 yards, 2 TDs and 1 INT, but he’s tough to
endorse in a championship game. Although they have served up 27
aerial TDs, the Chargers have held opponents to an average of
211.6 passing yards per game, 10th lowest in the NFL.
Joe Flacco @ Cin
On the plus side, the Ravens need to beat the Bengals on Sunday
in order to win the AFC North, so no worry of Flacco taking an
early breather here. Entering Week 17, Flacco has thrown multiple
TD passes in three consecutive games for the first time this season,
but he is rarely a threat for solid yardage totals. Dating to
Week 12 (5 games), Flacco has topped 161 yards passing only twice
– and even in those cases – 227 yards versus the Colts
and 226 yards in San Diego – nowhere close to 300 yards.
Flacco is on pace to record the lowest completion percentage of
his 4-year career, completing just 56.8 percent of his passes.
Especially without WR Anquan Boldin in the mix, it remains difficult
to trust Flacco here.