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Joseph Hutchins | Archive | Email
Staff Writer

The Shot Caller's Report - WRs
Your Weekly Guide To Fantasy Lineups: Week 4
Positions: QBs | RBs | WRs

Bye Weeks:
Pittsburgh, Indianapolis

Grab a Helmet

Steve Johnson

Ryan Fitzpatrick's favorite target.

Steve Johnson v. NE: Iíve already tabbed Ryan Fitzpatrick as somebody youíd want in your lineup this week, so it stands to reason Johnson warrants a similar endorsement. Why? Well, as one goes, so goes the other, it seems. I tracked Johnsonís game logs back to the start of 2011 (when he emerged as a budding star) and a pattern quickly materialized: When he had a subpar game (fewer than 50 yards and no scores, for instance), Fitzpatrickís numbers were similarly subpar (fewer than roughly 200 yards, a pick or multiple picks, and no more than one passing TD). This stands to reason, of course, since Johnson serves as Fitzpatrickís most accomplished wideout by a pretty fair margin. If the latter is on, heís usually finding the former. When he isnít, itís probably because he canít. Luckily for Johnsonís owners, thatís pretty rare. In fact, I only tallied six such subpar games in the past two-plus seasons. Line him up against the Pats this Sunday.

Brandon Lloyd @ BUF: I cautioned prior to Week 1 against expecting too much too soon from Tom Terrificís new toy. As it turns out, I was only kinda right to pump the brakes on this seeming match made in fantasy heaven. Lloyd has been targeted more often than I expected the first three weeks (7th most) but he hasnít reached paydirt and, accordingly, is only the 38th most valuable WR so far. I think thatís about to change. The Pats draw Stevie Johnsonís Bills this weekend, Bradyís favorite AFC East foe by a longshot (46 TD passes and a stellar 102.4 QB rating in 20 career matchups). Moreover, New England will still be without the services of Aaron Hernandez and, quite possibly, its new starter in the slot, Julian Edelman. Though I still donít understand why the latter has climbed above Wes Welker on the depth chart, it may not matter this weekend. Welker, Rob Gronkowski, and Mr. Lloyd will be shagging the future Hall of Famerís spirals on Sunday and thatís always a good thing.

Value Tight Ends v. Stud Tight Ends: Itís safe to say tight ends, the most unsexy of positional fantasy players, were decidedly sexier this past preseason in the eyes of most fantasy GMs. The aggregate average draft position for the top five TEs in 2012 drafts (12-team standard scoring) was just over a full round higher (4.01) than it was in the preceding two drafts (roughly 5.02). Naturally, the question must be asked: Were they worth it? The short answer isÖnot yet. Jimmy Graham, Gronk, and (especially) Vernon Davis have mostly lived up to expectations, but Aaron Hernandez has only played one game and Antonio Gates has been unusually quiet in just two appearances. Meanwhile, guys like Heath Miller (old standby); Jared Cook, Kyle Rudolph, and Dennis Pitta (up and comers); and Martellus Bennett (huh?) are producing at a surprising clip. I guess you could say it may very well turn out to be the year of the tight end. It just may not feature the tight ends we thought it might. Iíd trade the headliners for an upgrade at wideout if I felt assured I could grab one of these other guys instead.

Grab Some Wood

Michael Crabtree @ NYJ: I took a swipe at Randy Moss last week, saying he wouldnít do much damage in his return to Minneapolis (he didnít). This week, Iíll push my luck with the Niners wideouts and predict an off day for his more productive teammate, Mr. Crabtree. It seems like every time I log into my ESPN league, the projector is predicting big things from him. My question isÖwhy? Heís been pretty consistent through three games, yes, but he hasnít reached the end zone yet, hasnít hit the century mark (heís only done it three times in three-plus years), and is actually the 51st most productive WR through three games. 51st! Letís seeÖ12 team leagueÖthree wide receiver slots...12 x 3 = 36Ö. Why is he even being considered again? Alex Smithís most valuable target is the aforementioned Vernon Davis and the San Francisco passing game is very much a zero-sum operation. If Davis is producing, nobody else likely is. Sit Crabtree down against Rex Ryanís Jets this weekend.

Anquan Boldin v. CLE: The 32-year old Boldin is starting to show his age just as the Ravens are morphing into a quick-strike, pass-heavy attack. Itís kind of a shame, really, as he would seem to be the consummate foil to home-run hitter, Torrey Smith. He might still fill that role as the season progresses, but Iím skeptical how much that will matter to us. Take away the 34-yard touchdown against the Bengals in Week 1 (and it absolutely should have been taken away) and youíre looking at a pretty embarrassing output for the one-time Super Bowl running mate of Larry Fitzgerald. Heís losing targets to Smith (for obvious reasons), to Pitta (somewhat surprisingly), and even to Ray Rice (whoís being utilized plenty as a receiver out of the backfield). I doubt heís in danger of being irrelevant quite yet, butÖletís just say heís trending in that direction. See if you can find some better options Thursday night.

Any Seattle receiver @ STL: My bitterness is showing through, isnít it? Hereís the thing, though: Sidney Rice, Doug Baldwin, and that other guy have combined for only 17 receptions through three games. Divide that by three andÖyeah, itís not an impressive number. One needs opportunities to be relevant as a bona fide fantasy receiver and two to three catches per game probably isnít going to cut it. Until Pete Carroll trusts Russell Wilson to shoulder more of the load, Iím not sure any of Seattleís pass-catchers are worth owning, let alone starting. Pass on these guys until the Seahawksí philosophy changes dramatically.
Good luck, folks!