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
Romo @ WAS or Robert
Griffin III v. DAL: If you’re still reading this column,
you’re obviously vying for a title. Congratulations! Now, go breathe
a sigh of relief because Week 17 is shaping up to be anything but
the fantasy crapshoot it typically is. Most of the game’s best players
are either involved in meaningful contests (Aaron Rodgers, Peyton
Manning, and Dez Bryant), playing out the string with pride and/or
records on the line (Cam Newton and Megatron), or all of the above
(Adrian Peterson). Two of the most prolific fantasy triggermen square
off on Sunday night in the regular season finale and I’m guessing
there will be more than a few fantasy championships riding on the
outcome, not to mention the playoff hopes of their respective teams.
Romo’s totals have crescendoed since Week 1 and he’s now the hottest
QB in the business this side of Cam Newton. Griffin has cooled a
bit since his white hot start, but he’s still averaging almost 25
points/game on the year, fifth best in the league at this late date.
He can also boast of having authored the best quarterbacking performance
against Dallas this season, a 34.5 point explosion on Thanksgiving
Day. Start either man with confidence in Sunday night’s critical
NFC East grudge match.
Romo has something to play for.
Newton@ NO or Drew
Brees v. CAR: There’s nothing critical about the Week
17 pillow fight between Carolina and New Orleans, two NFC South
also-rans, but you wouldn’t know it by the way the two teams have
played of late. Newton’s Panthers have won four of their last five
since bottoming out at 2-8 after a horrid Week 11 loss to Tampa.
Brees’ Saints, on the other hand, have caught fire the past two
weeks, seemingly emboldened by former commissioner Paul Tagliabue’s
decision to vacate the bounty suspensions of several key players.
Indeed, despite a mostly forgettable 2012 for his New Orleans squad,
Brees is still on target – barring a total collapse or an injury
– to be christened Mr. Fantasy this Sunday evening, my highly unoriginal
and unofficial title for the top fantasy producer of the season.
To be only slightly outdone, Newton is in good shape to secure a
top 5 finish at the position himself thanks to a great stretch run
(31 points/game over his last five outings). You want either man
in your lineup, especially since they get to face each other’s defenses.
Stafford v. CHI: Stafford is another stud field general who
will be watching the playoffs from his couch this postseason, but
he’s known that for several weeks now and it hasn’t seemed to hurt
his overall production. To the contrary, the former Georgia gunslinger
has been throwing the football all over the place since a devastating
Thanksgiving Day loss to Houston, averaging almost 50 chucks per
contest in his last four and a tidy 20.6 fantasy points, to boot.
That’s just a shade off his cumulative average for the season (22.6),
an average good enough to have him positioned as a top 10 QB heading
into the final weekend. The Bears are historically rough on opposing
QBs, for sure, but Stafford has only ducked below 19 points against
them one time in his brief career, an injury-shortened Week 1 outing
to kick off the 2010 season. The bulletin boards are already filling
up with juicy jabs and I can guarantee Jim Schwartz’s boys won’t
lay down with a chance to ruin Chicago’s season on tap. Enjoy this
Norris Division slugfest, folks, even if you don’t have a dog in
Grab a Clipboard
Vick @ NYG: Nope, never too soon for a tactless segue. Besides,
it’s been a particularly trying season for the ol’ Shot Caller
and I’m feeling a tad cheeky. Vick’s season hasn’t gone much better,
it seems. He spent eight and a half weeks getting chased all over
Lincoln Financial Field, finally succumbed to a concussion halfway
through the year, and now must jump back behind one of the league’s
most porous offensive lines against arguably the league’s best
pass rush in a game that only matters to one team (not the one
he plays for). It’s always difficult gauging interest when it
comes to Week 17 matchups, but this one’s pretty easy to handicap,
I think. Vick is more interested in having a chance to run Chip
Kelly’s go-go attack in 2013 than he is ending up a mush-headed
clipboard-carrier for some CFL squad. Expect a conservative game
plan, relatively little risk-taking, and pedestrian totals for
the man who once captivated us…and may once again. GO DUCKS!
Cutler @ DET: I’ve been ragging on Mr. Crabby Pants for several
weeks now and should probably lighten up since it’s the holiday
season and all. You know, good will toward men and all that. Here’s
the thing, though: I literally CAN’T think of anything nice to
say about him and since I get paid to say SOMEthing, I can’t very
well take my mother’s advice and do the opposite. I’ll try and
be a little less blunt than I usually am when discussing Chicago’s
field general: He hasn’t been very…productive the past few weeks,
shall we say. And by “weeks,” I mean “months.” Since posting 24.7
points in a Week 9 shellacking of the Titans, Cutler has topped
the 20-point mark just once (in Week 13 v. Seattle). That means
he’s only been worth starting, arguably, a single time since November
4th. Yes, Chicago’s season is potentially on the line this Sunday,
but that doesn’t mean yours has to be. Sit him down again if you’ve
been smart enough to shelve him recently.
Hoyer @ SF: I know, I know. If you made it this far,
you obviously don’t need a no-name like Hoyer to pull a
rabbit out of hat for you in this, his first career start. The
thing is, though, I think he would have had a chance to do exactly
that and be one of most legendary eleventh hour pickups in fantasy
history were it not for three very salient facts: 1) the Cardinals’
offense stinks; 2) San Francisco’s defense doesn’t;
and 3) The Niners actually need this game to secure a home playoff
game. He’s shown some real promise in several New England
preseason games and I really doubt Coach Belichick would have
kept him around so long if he lacked ability. Nevertheless, Hoyer
hasn’t been given the tools with which to succeed in this
particular instance. Put another way, it’s a horrible situation
for anybody’s former understudy to be walking into, even
Tom Brady’s. Don’t get cute.