Nobody needs to be told
starting Aaron Rodgers, Arian Foster, or Calvin Johnson is a good
idea. Duh, right? You can’t have studs at every position,
though, unless you’re in the shallowest of leagues. This
is where the Shot Caller comes in. Need help deciding which bargain
basement QB to use and which to ignore on Rodgers’ bye week?
Let’s talk. Looking for solutions at running back because
Foster is a game-time decision? Look no further. Need to know
which of your unproven targets to start and which to sit since
you ignored Megatron and went RB-QB-Gronkowski in your first three
rounds? I’m your huckleberry. Past results may not guarantee
future success, but I believe ignoring them entirely can ruin
your Sundays in a hurry. Read on for a little history and, hopefully,
a little sage advice.
Note: Fantasy points
based on FF Today’s default scoring system.
Bye Weeks: N/A
Grab a Helmet
Bradford @ TB: For several years, my stepfather has grumbled
about NFL football, complaining it lacks the diverse schemes and
overall unpredictability (hence, excitement) of the college game.
I see his point, but…tell that to the fantasy GMs who were on the
business end of a surprise Week 15 trouncing, present company included.
Two of the better offenses (NY Giants and Tampa) posted goose eggs.
Two of the worst defenses (Oakland and New Orleans) pitched shutouts.
In fact, one of those defenses even shut out one of those offenses,
a truly unexpected result that probably derailed the dreams of many
a fantasy shot caller. When the smoke had finally cleared, some
of the league’s more reliable producers had posted feeble numbers
and some of its more anemic performers had notched surprisingly
good totals. Bradford was one of those latter, an unexpected stud
who threw for 377 yards and three scores in a wire-to-wire loss
to Minnesota. This week, he faces the one thing we CAN seem to count
on week in and week out: Tampa Bay’s truly atrocious secondary.
Bradford's coming off a monster game against
Luck @ KC: Indy’s freshman phenom has tailed off considerably
of late and right when we’ve needed him to turn it up a notch. He’s
only averaging 16.4 points his last two contests, a far cry from
the almost 25 per he averaged in his first 12 professional games.
What’s the explanation for this mini-tailspin? Luck, who spent his
last two years at Stanford completing over 70% of his passes, hasn’t
completed even 50% of his throws over the past three weeks. It’s
unclear why a famously accurate college QB would suddenly morph
into a scattershot NFL dart-thrower, but I don’t think there’s much
value in pursuing an explanation. Luck draws Kansas City’s Chiefs
this coming Sunday – a group that has surrendered 25 TDs by air
this season (tied for 23rd in the league) and pilfered only seven
passes (tied for last) – and seems primed to get back on track.
If you survived his early December swoon, don’t be gun-shy about
starting him this weekend.
Roethlisberger v. CIN: I expected the Steelers to deal a mortal
blow to Dallas’ playoff hopes last Sunday, but it appears Pittsburgh
is now the team on life support after a heartbreaking overtime defeat
in Big D. Big Ben sealed his squad’s fate with a late interception
but can’t, I don’t think, be held completely accountable for the
loss. He was pretty awesome prior to that pick (339 yards and two
TDs). In reality, his own defense’s inability to slow down Tony
Romo probably cost the Curtain a key W. This week, Roethlisberger
and company head home to Heinz Field for a critical AFC North showdown
with the surging Cincinnati Bengals. Though his career numbers against
the Bengals suggest nothing amazing on the horizon, #7 has a way
of showing up, er, big in games his team absolutely needs. I like
Pittsburgh to secure the win, regaining the driver’s seat for a
Wild Card spot, and for Big Ben to be the primary reason why. Start
Grab a Clipboard
Cutler @ ARZ: Cutler is the primary reason why Chicago’s Wild
Card hopes are rapidly slipping away. He was predictably horrid
against the Pack in Week 15 (I got one right!) and really hasn’t
been anything BUT that for the past month and a half. Is it any
wonder the Bears’ faithful have resorted to booing their hometown
boys? It doesn’t help that the notoriously cantankerous Cutler
has once again resorted to public sideline pouts over more private
expressions of displeasure. You can almost tell when a Chicago
season is going down the drain: It’s written all over their sneering
quarterback’s face. If the Bears are going to salvage an opportunity
to play into January, they’ll need a win in the desert this weekend.
I suspect they might get it but it won’t be pretty. Neither will
Cutler’s numbers because Arizona, surprisingly enough, is one
of the three stingiest defenses against opposing quarterbacks
this season (just 16.5 points/game).
Rivers @ NYJ: The Jets are currently sitting right behind
Arizona in that particular metric, yielding a mere 16.9 points/game
to opposing signal callers through 15 weeks. Like the Cardinals,
however, they’ve been undone by the miserable play of their own
quarterbacks and will be sitting at home come playoff time. San
Diego will too and for many of the same reasons. Philip Rivers,
a stud signal caller as recently as last season, has become a
virtual turnover machine. Only Andrew Luck (who throws tons of
passes) and Mark Sanchez (who stinks) have coughed up the football
more than Rivers has in 2012. Though he’s often able to overcome
those mistakes and post decent stats, he simply isn’t the dominant
fantasy force he used to be. His 18.3 points/game mark is the
lowest he’s posted in five years and he’ll be desperately short
of weapons this Sunday, as well, since Ryan Mathews and Malcom
Floyd will sit out. Sit Rivers out too.
Flacco v. NYG: Jets fans have certainly witnessed some abominable
quarterback play this season, but according to ESPN’s proprietary
Total QBR rating system, Baltimore’s backers have been officially
subjected to the two worst quarterbacking displays on the season.
Joe Flacco authored both of them, of course, and just laid the
second of those eggs this past weekend against the Broncos (0.4
QBR). Remember when he was promoting himself as the league’s
best QB this past offseason? Sure, buddy. Now, to be fair, those
stinky performances haven’t necessarily resulted in unusable
fantasy numbers. Flacco managed 254 yards and a couple garbage
time scores against Denver, for instance. Nevertheless, he’s
clearly not someone we should be staking our championship hopes
on. The Giants are coming to town this Sunday and they usually
play their best football when A) they’re backs are against
the wall, B) when they’re on the road, and C) when it’s
December. Be careful.