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Joseph Hutchins | Archive | Email |
Staff Writer

The Shot Caller's Report - Quarterbacks
Your Guide To Fantasy Lineups: Week 1
QBs | RBs | WRs

Nobody needs to be told starting Aaron Rodgers, 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 Rodgers’ bye week? Let’s talk. Looking for solutions at running back because 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: Tampa Bay, Miami

Alex Smith

Are you in a Jameis Winston or Jay Cutler bind? Alex Smith could be the relief you're looking for.

Grab a Helmet

Alex Smith @ NE (Thu): The regular season finally kicks off in Foxboro on Thursday night, where the Patriots begin defense of their (still improbable) title against Kansas City. The last time these two teams met was in the 2015 Divisional Playoffs, a 27-20 New England victory that featured 50 Smith passing attempts. It was only one of two times in 12 professional seasons heíd thrown half a hundred passes in a game and I think thereís a reasonable chance he could approach that number again. The Chiefs will be breaking in an exciting but unproven RB, possess some bona fide talent at the WR and TE positions, and will be trading blows with one of the most explosive offenses in the league. The volume could be there, in short, to make the guy you drafted as a bye week fill-in a legitimate start option right out of the gate.

Russell Wilson @ GB: Wilsonís almost always a legit start option, but his last trip to Wisconsin was brutal (FIVE picks) and there are concerns about his surrounding cast this season. I guess I should say IíM concerned about his surrounding cast. The offensive line that almost got him killed in 2016 is likely worse without left tackle George Fant, now out for the year with a torn ACL. The running backs have struggled to stay healthy (Thomas Rawls and C.J. Prosise) and/or in shape (Eddie Lacy). The pass-catchers are virtual unknowns save for Doug Baldwin and Jimmy Graham. Nevertheless, Wilson has always managed to get the most out of his available weapons and this year should be no different, provided he stays upright. Sunday afternoonís showdown at Lambeau is one of the juiciest Week 1 matchups and Iím expecting points aplenty in a game featuring two NFC title contenders.

Sam Bradford v. NO (Mon): Bradford was only borderline draftable in 10 and 12-team leagues, so thereís a reasonably good chance heís sitting on your waiver wire to start the season. If you decided to roll the dice with Andrew Luck, however, or got burned by Hurricane Irma, which now officially postpones Jameis Winstonís and Jay Cutlerís 2017 campaign, heís an attractive one-time fill-in. The former Ram/Eagle completed 71.6% of his passes last year and also averaged over 250 yards/game. Thatís the kind of efficiency almost everyone facing New Orleans has achieved recently. Since 2011, the Saintsí pass defense has ranked, in order, 30th, 31st, 2nd, 25th, 31st, and 32nd. Yikes. The Minny brass have surrounded Bradford with some interesting pieces and if that iffy line can protect him, who knows? I like his chances of posting some sneaky good stats in the first game of a Monday night doubleheader.

Grab a Clipboard

Tyrod Taylor v. NYJ: I wonít be heeding my own advice this Sunday as Iím stuck with either Taylor or DeShone Kizer at QB2 in our big money league (Matt Staffordís my QB1). In my defense, we drafted before Anquan Boldinís sudden retirement and before Buffaloís triggerman was concussed in Week 3 of the preseason. Nevertheless, my wait-on-QBs strategy has almost completely backfired and Iíll be scrambling for sure if/when the Bills pull the plug on 2017 and go into full rebuild mode, likely with someone other than Taylor under center. For now, heís what Iíve got and I sincerely hope youíve got better. The Jets are a hot mess right now, yes, but have some capable players on defense, even without Sheldon Richardson. This one has all the makings of an unwatchable AFC East slap fight. Do as I say and not as I do: Sit Mr. Taylor down.

Dak Prescott v. NYG: I should have just plunked down a couple more bucks for Prescott, in retrospect, but I learned a valuable lesson in that particular auction draft: It only takes one other owner employing the same patient strategy to screw things up, especially if that ownerís player valuations are similar. I did and still do like Prescott this season, despite the sit-down recommendation, primarily because heíll, in theory, be playing with Dez Bryant more and with Zeke Elliott less. That equation has been muddled somewhat by Elliottís unusual situation (suspended yet able to play Week 1), but Iím bearish on Prescott, regardless, this Sunday night. The Giants possess the leagueís best secondary and also one its best front lines and gave the Cowboysí young gunslinger fits in 2016 (just 25 total points in two games). You didnít draft him to ride pine, but every win matters. Consider alternatives.

Philip Rivers @ DEN: I didnít like predicting heíd drop out of the Top 10 QB ranks several weeks back and I don’t like predicting he’ll lay an egg in Week 1. However, there are legitimate reasons to think both things will come to pass and they’re actually kind of related. To wit, Rivers faces the Denver defense to open the season, arguably the league’s best, and an outfit he averaged barely 17 points against last year. That’s a full 5 points off his season-long average of 22.2. Making matters worse, he plays six more games against the league’s top seven scoring defenses (Broncos again, Chiefs twice, Cowboys, Giants, and Pats). Playing almost half your games against the NFL’s most efficient stopper units is no recipe for fantasy success and even the resourceful Rivers could suffer because of it. Be very wary, starting with the tough divisional matchup in Denver.

Quarterbacks | Running Backs | Wide Receivers