Nobody needs to be told starting
Tom Brady, Ezekiel Elliott, 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 Brady’s bye week? Let’s
talk. Looking for solutions at running back because Zeke 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: Baltimore, Kansas City,
Josh Mccown is in play. The Bucs have given
up the 6th most fantasy points to quarterbacks.
Grab a Helmet
McCown @ TB: Drew Stanton. Brett Hundley. Mitchell Trubisky,
DeShone Kizer. Jacoby Brissett. Case Keenum. Blake Bortles. Andy
Dalton. C.J. Beathard. Brock Osweiler. Jay Cutler. Ryan Fitzpatrick.
Eli Manning. Add McCown to that group and you’re looking at exactly
HALF of this week’s starting quarterbacks. Frightening, huh? When
Josh McCown looks like must-start material, you KNOW a position
of strength and surplus has become a position of weakness and scarcity.
To be fair, McCown’s been playing like must-start material for about
a month now and has actually scored the fourth most points at the
position since mid-October. This despite questionable or unproven
talent at the wide receiver position and a revolving cast of running
backs. I don’t know how long he can keep it up but I know he’s more
reliable than every other name I just dropped. Start McCown with
confidence against a reeling Tampa Bay squad this coming Sunday.
Fitzpatrick v. NYJ: Yup, the wheels have officially come
off for the 2-6 Bucs as they get set to face McCown’s Jets without
their two most important offensive players. Mike Evans’ one-game
suspension held up on appeal and, if that wasn’t bad enough, the
guy who helped get him suspended, Jameis Winston, will be shut down
for (at least) a couple weeks due to lingering shoulder issues.
Enter the man they call “Fitzmagic,” who will be starting a game
for his SEVENTH NFL franchise against a former employer. His detractors
are legion and there’s a reason he’s so well-traveled, I suppose,
but…man, you could do a lot worse than Ryan Fitzpatrick when it’s
circle-the-wagons time. He’s scored 37.9 fantasy points in about
four quarters and change this season, a per-minute rate that, although
unsustainable, augurs well for his possibly extended stint as Tampa’s
main man. Believe in the beard.
Cutler @ CAR (Mon): Miami’s decision to ship Jay Ajayi
off to Philly probably had more to do with team chemistry than on-field
performance, though it’s hard to argue anyone’s untouchable when
you’re scoring the fewest points in the league (14.5/game). Nevertheless,
down one franchise back last Sunday night, the Dolphins’ offense
looked surprisingly potent, notching 24 points and 395 yards, a
season high, in the loss to Oakland. Much of that yardage was accumulated
playing catch-up, granted, and the Raiders aren’t exactly a defensive
juggernaut, but I was generally encouraged by Cutler’s performance,
in particular the way he involved Ajayi’s replacements, Kenyan Drake
and Damien Williams, in the passing game. The matchup Monday night
is less terrific, but 40+ passing attempts seems almost guaranteed
and the quarterback pickings, as we’ve discussed, are really slim.
I could see Grump posting some surprisingly decent garbage time
totals against the Panthers.
Grab a Clipboard
Rivers @ JAX: Doug Marrone’s Jacksonville outfit definitely
qualifies as a defensive juggernaut and here’s proof: Not a single
opposing QB has thrown for multiple touchdowns in a game this
season. The Jags have actually only surrendered four passing touchdowns
TOTAL through eight games, putting them on pace to threaten the
all-time 16-game low of six set by the 2008 Colts. They probably
won’t get there with Rivers, Russell Wilson, and Marcus Mariota
on the second half slate, but the turnaround is still pretty remarkable,
especially considering they yielded 29 TD tosses and 100+ more
passing yards/game just two seasons ago. Rivers is a risky guy
to bet against, but his numbers are down across the board this
year and the history of West Coast squads playing early East Coast
games isn’t encouraging. This is the spot if you can afford to
rest him, so consider all available alternatives.
Bortles v. LAC: Bortles is very much on the start/sit
bubble this weekend and you only need review the list of Week
10 starters above to figure out why. That doesn’t mean you have
to be excited about using him, though recent returns have been
fairly solid (19.5 points/game). Bortles’ issue hasn’t been poor
play this season so much as it’s been insufficient volume. Through
eight games, he’s thrown just 234 passes, putting him on pace
for 378 attempts total. That’s almost 250 fewer than he flung
in 2016 (625). I can’t validate this, but I suspect that’s one
of the largest year-over-year declines for a fully healthy quarterback
in NFL history. Tom Coughlin wasn’t kidding when he vowed to remake
the Jags in his image. The transition from garbage time gunslinger
to game manager is almost complete, so don’t be disappointed if
Bortles disappoints against the Chargers Sunday.
Manning @ SF: Coughlin has to be secretly loving what’s
happened to his former organization since he left following the
2015 season. His departure was sold to the press as a joint decision
at the time, but it was later revealed he was forced to step down
as head coach, making him the fall guy for New York’s struggles
instead of GM Jerry Reese. Two years later, those struggles have
only intensified and the tragically flawed squad Reese built has
already quit on Coughlin’s replacement, Ben McAdoo. If you
thought the 51-17 Week 9 pasting was bad, wait until the Giants
get beat by an inferior, not to mention winless, 49ers squad this
Sunday. Manning has precious few weapons to work with and is allegedly
no lock to finish the season under center as New York evaluates
personnel and looks toward the future. Steer clear of this toxic