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Joseph Hutchins | Archive | Email
Staff Writer

The Shot Caller's Report - Quarterbacks
Your Weekly Guide To Fantasy Lineups: Week 16
Positions: QBs | RBs | WRs

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

Sam Bradford

Bradford's coming off a monster game against the Vikings.

Sam 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.

Andrew 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.

Ben 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 him.

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Jay 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).

Philip 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.

Joe 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.

Running Backs