Nobody needs to be told starting Cam Newton, David Johnson,
or Antonio Brown 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 Newton’s bye week? Let’s talk. Looking for solutions
at running back because David Johnson 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 Brown and went RB-QB-Gronk
in your first three rounds? You get the idea. Past results may
not guarantee future success, but ignoring them entirely can ruin
your Sundays in a hurry (maybe even your Mondays and Thursdays).
Read on for a little history and, hopefully, a little sage advice.
Note: Fantasy points
based on FF Today’s standard scoring system.
Blake Bortles inconsistency and poor showings
against Houston makes him a QB to avoid in Week 10.
Grab a Helmet
Flacco v. CLE (Thu): Our long national nightmare ISN’T
quite over, apparently, so we hunker down, refocus our energies,
and wait another…week. Of course I’m talking about the spate of
terrifying Thursday night matchups, which mercifully ends when the
Saints square off against the Panthers in Week 11. What did you
think I was referring to? Flacco is an option we’ve mostly been
able to ignore this season, but when Andrew Luck, Matthew Stafford,
Tyrod Taylor, and Derek Carr are watching from their respective
couches, he suddenly becomes a very start-worthy commodity. That’s
especially so when you consider he’ll be facing a winless Browns
squad that’s held just a single opposing passer under 20 fantasy
points this season (Fitzmagic). I like Cleveland’s overall spunk
and definitely see improvement, but Flacco’s good enough and has
enough weapons to prevent the (second biggest) upset of the week.
Start him if necessary.
Mariota v. GB: Mariota memories are about all us left-leaning,
Duck-loving Oregonians have to warm our hearts now that the former
Heisman winner plies his trade in Nashville and…well, yeah. I pegged
him as a potential Top 10 Riser back in August, but even I’m pleasantly
surprised by the crooked numbers Marcus keeps throwing up in a decidedly
run-first offense, Mike Mularkey’s “exotic smashmouth” attack. They
aren’t always good crooked numbers (e.g., last week’s three turnovers,
including a pick-six), but they’ll certainly do for fantasy purposes.
Actually, they’ll more than do. In his last three starts, Tennessee’s
triggerman has scored the third most points at the quarterback position.
Oh, that sample size isn’t statistically significant enough for
you? Here’s how many he’s scored since Week 4: the most. Mariota’s
must start material against a decimated Pack secondary and fantasy
gold if Coach Mularkey dreams up more designed QB runs.
Winston v. CHI: It’s been nearly a decade since Tampa
Bay appeared in a playoff game and almost 15 years since they captured
their only Vince Lombardi trophy. Winston was nabbed No.1 overall
in the 2015 draft, right before the guy we just talked about, to
get the pirate ship pointed back in the right direction. So far,
no such luck. The Bucs are just 9-15 with this other former Heisman
winner at the helm and seem to be stuck in neutral most of the time.
Still, there’s no denying he has the raw talent to make Tampa great
again, especially if he can become more consistent. When he’s on
– against Atlanta (twice), San Francisco, and Los Angeles – he’s
a fantasy dynamo (almost 29 FPts/G). When he isn’t – Arizona, Denver,
Carolina, and Oakland – he can really hurt you (17 FPts/G). I think
Good Jameis makes an appearance this Sunday.
Grab a Clipboard
Tannehill @ SD: Due to some iffy bye week management,
a seeming specialty of mine, I’ll be forced to start Tanny against
the Bolts this weekend in our two-QB league. Here’s hoping you’re
not in that same predicament. It’s not like a matchup with San
Diego couldn’t yield great results (see Mariota last week). It’s
just that the Dolphins seem very disinterested in throwing the
football of late. In his first four starts of the season, Miami’s
main man winged it 138 times and led the Fish to one victory.
In his next four, the attempts were down to 103 and the Dolphins
won thrice. Coincidence? I think not. Adam Gase loves throwing
the football, but he loves winning games more. All coaches do.
Miami has a better chance of winning when Tannehill isn’t slinging
the pigskin. The same is not true for you. Avoid him if you can.
Bradford @ WAS or Kirk
Cousins v. MIN: I personally witnessed the Vikes’ manhandling
of their NFC North neighbors to the east back in Week 2 and it’s
hard to believe I’m watching the same team these days. Guess offensive
linemen and actually-skilled skill position players are kinda
critical, eh? Bradford looks like a proverbial deer in the headlights
on most downs and will be hard to trust the rest of the way, assuming
he survives that long. Cousins, on the other hand, has really
come on of late and is fresh off his best performance of the season,
a 30.8 showing in Week 8 against Cincinnati. He was aided by an
entire extra period in that game, however, and won’t be facing
a dubious Bengals secondary in Week 10. Games involving Minny
rarely reach the 40s so it’s best you put a lid on expectations
for these two.
Bortles v. HOU: Bortles is one of those tricky fantasy
assets to manage in that he, like the aforementioned Winston,
seems to yo-yo back and forth between good performances and bad.
In his four best starts this year, Jacksonville’s mercurial
signal caller is averaging 28.3 points, putting him on par with
the very best players at his position. In his four worst starts,
however, he’s averaging just 19.2 points, a near 10 points-per-game
drop. Ever lost a fantasy matchup by 10 points? Here’s some
more discouraging news if you’re thinking about rolling
the dice on Mr. Bortles this Sunday: He’s notched 12 points
twice against the Texans in his brief career, once last year and
once in his rookie year. Those are two of his five worst performances
in 43 NFL starts. A spot starter at best, there are precious few
spots to use Bortles from here on out.