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.
Bye Weeks: Minnesota, Tampa Bay
Alex Smith has thrown more TD passess against
the Raiders (18) than any other team in the league.
Grab a Helmet
Kaepernick @ BUF: There are certainly more polarizing/controversial
Americans (guess) but none who play quarterback in the NFL. Whether
you consider Kaepernick an activist or an anarchist, a patriot or
an idiot, it’s easy to forget he was, before this recent firestorm,
a pretty danged good quarterback, one seemingly verging on superstardom.
It never happened and for a variety of reasons: deteriorating talent
around him, poor mechanics, poor health, etc. So why believe he
can recapture that old magic guiding a much worse Niners team than
the one he helmed back in the day? You shouldn’t, but consider:
In four starts against not-the-Seahawks, Blaine Gabbert averaged
21.4 fantasy points. That’s better than Palmer, Manning, Dalton,
Wilson, Cousins, and both of the young gunslingers we’ll talk about
next. Oh, did I mention he also had more rushing yards than any
other QB? We finally get Chip + Kap, so…who knows?
Wentz @ WAS or Dak
Prescott @ GB: History may be equally unkind to Messrs.
Wentz and Prescott someday as they only have, collectively, nine
professional games under their belt. Lotta football to be played
yet. But, man, it’s hard not to be impressed with them right now.
I was extremely skeptical of the 2016 QB draft class and still think
the “crown jewel” of said class (Jared Goff) will be an outright
miss by the Rams. Wentz, though, is making the Philly brass look
really good so far (250-plus yards/game, 7 TDs, just one pick) and
Prescott, meanwhile, has already set an NFL record by throwing his
first 155 professional passes (and counting) exclusively to the
guys with the stars on their helmets (read: no picks). Seven wins,
just two losses, and a single interception between them? Stop worrying
about a regression and start these guys already.
Smith @ OAK: Alex Smith wouldn’t know anything about
immediate NFL success. His 40.8 passer rating with San Francisco
back in 2005 is the second worst mark of any rookie QB since 1980.
The worst? That would be Ryan Leaf’s 39.0 in 1998. Talk about dubious
company. Undeterred by that inauspicious debut, Smith continues
to ply his trade as one of 32 starting NFL signal callers more than
a decade later. Maybe he could give his old teammate Kap a few pointers
about how to rise from the NFL ashes? He gets his favorite opponent
this Sunday in the East Bay, an Oakland team he’s thrown 18 career
TD passes against. That’s seven more than he’s hurled against any
other opponent in 11-plus seasons. Even better? This version of
the Raiders is currently ranked dead last against opposing passers
(331 yards/game). I’m loving Smith as a sneaky start Sunday.
Grab a Clipboard
Taylor v. SF: The last time I hollered at you, prior
to Week 3, I was equating Rex Ryan to Capt. Edward John Smith
steering the doomed Titanic straight toward a North Atlantic iceberg.
A funny thing happened between then and that direct hit, however:
Coach Ryan and his Bills managed to avoid catastrophe and have
now run off three consecutive Ws, two of them at the expense of
supposed Super Bowl contenders Arizona and New England. How have
they done it? Let’s just say turnovers have been a huge factor
(+9 through five weeks) and Taylor really hasn’t. Since losing
WR1 Sammy Watkins after Week 2, he’s averaging only 18.5 points/game,
wedging him right between Sammy Bradford and Ryan Fitzpatrick
(see below) on a per-game basis. I’m impressed by Rex’s reclamation
job but that doesn’t make me want to insert his starting QB as
my starting QB Sunday.
Ryan @ SEA: I’d sure take this guy on any given Sunday,
however. In fact, so would pretty much everybody presuming they’re
groovy with trotting out the highest scoring field general in
the game through five weeks (140 total points and 28.0 per contest).
That makes him must start material, right? Wellll…yes, but it
comes with one little caveat: not necessarily against the Seahawks.
You don’t earn the “Legion of Boom” appellation by allowing opposing
QBs to go bonkers against you, as Ryan just did to the formerly
fearsome Panthers in Week 3 (500-plus yards and four scores).
True to form, the Hawks are yielding barely 200 passing yards
per game and have surrendered just a single passing TD (Fitzpatrick
again). They haven’t faced luminaries, granted, but Ryan rarely
plays in the kind of weather he’s likely to face Sunday in Seattle
(50s and rainy). Be very, very cautious.
Fitzpatrick @ ARI (Mon): My fantasy bromance with Fitzy
is officially on the rocks after some downright unsightly performances
to kick off the 2016 season. Maybe the Jets’ powers that
be knew what they were doing when they dragged their feet on a
contract extension this past off-season? That seems silly to say
about a team that once drafted Mark Sanchez and then Geno Smith
as prospective franchise QBs, but…I digress. Making waters
muddier for Fitzpatrick is the late-breaking news he’ll
now be without one of his key security blankets, Eric Decker,
who was just placed on IR Wednesday (torn rotator cuff). That
leaves Brandon Marshall, the promising Quincy Enunwa, and…well,
four guys I’ve never actually heard of playing wide receiver
for the spiraling Jets. Pair a struggling scattershot QB with
some unknown weapons and put ‘em on a plane to face an angry
Arizona D? I’ll pass, thanks.