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: N/A
Jameis Winston makes his 2017 debut against
a Bears team that gave up 321 yards to Matt Ryan.
Grab a Helmet
Dalton v. HOU (Thu): They say teams demonstrate the most
improvement between their first and second games. Cincinnati better
hope that’s not just football folklore after an abysmal showing
in the opener. Dalton was especially atrocious, throwing four picks,
fumbling once, and getting sacked five times, which earned him a
0.6 QBR rating, the third worst mark in the history of the statistic
(2006). He’s awfully tough to trust after one of those “Bad Andy”
performances, granted, but the quick Thursday turnaround might actually
prove beneficial this time. Houston is reeling after its own Week
1 drubbing, has already made a QB change (rookie Deshaun Watson),
and will now be missing a key defensive cog, the just-suspended
Brian Cushing. If none of that convinces you, maybe this will: The
worst single-game QBR was posted in 2015 by none other than Peyton
Manning, hoister of that season’s Vince Lombardi trophy.
Jameis Winston v. CHI: The only
way to avoid being snap-judged by panicky fantasy GMs after one
week of play is, of course, to not play at all. There’s no
telling how Winston and his Tampa teammates will look after their
unusual opening week bye, but opinions range from “they’ll
be ready” to “they’ll be rusty.” Here’s
my opinion: It won’t matter. The Bears were competitive against
a legitimate Super Bowl contender last Sunday, but still managed
to give up 321 yards through the air and some huge plays. Winston
has similar big-play weapons at his disposal (Mike Evans and DeSean
Jackson) and lacks the dynamic running game his division mates,
the Falcons, can boast of. In other words, I suspect he’ll
be straight dealing for hurricane-ravaged Bucs fans who could use
the diversion. Expect the star of HBO’s Hard Knocks, 2017
edition, to rise to the occasion on Sunday.
Palmer @ IND: If there’s one snap judgment I can definitely
get behind just 6% and change through the regular season, it’s this
one: Arizona is in big, big trouble. The only thing youthful about
the most experienced squad in the league seemed to be offensive
centerpiece David Johnson, the do-everything RB now on the shelf
for at least two months with a dislocated wrist. All that appears
to be left of this once-fearsome offense is a steadily declining
quarterback and a future Hall of Famer at WR playing in, perhaps,
their final seasons. I say it like it’s a bad thing, but nobody’s
going to be able to replace Johnson’s production in the ground game.
That could and should mean an increased reliance on the pass, as
evidenced by Palmer’s 48 attempts last Sunday, tops for Week 1.
In the absence of excellence, volume will suffice. Start Palmer.
Grab a Clipboard
Joe Flacco v. CLE: Flacco has
always been more of a spot starter than a must-start kinda QB
and versus Cleveland has typically been one of those spots. In
his last three appearances against the perpetually rebuilding
Browns, the big guy has averaged almost 270 yards, tossed six
TD passes, and even tallied a couple of rushing scores, all to
the tune of 25.7 fantasy points per game. I’d definitely
take 25+ points from the position this weekend but I’m not
sure he’ll throw enough passes to tally even half that.
In the Week 1 shellacking of the Bengals, he flung it a mere 17
times, all in the first 30 minutes. Yup, you read that right:
Flacco attempted precisely ZERO second-half passes. The Ravens
will need more from him as the season progresses, but not against
Cleveland and not, hopefully, until he’s fully recovered
from a recent back injury.
Blake Bortles v. TEN: Only
one quarterback completed fewer than 50% of his passes in Week
1. Would you believe it wasn’t the notoriously scattershot
Bortles? He was close, actually (11 for 21), but stayed within
himself, stayed off his backside, and didn’t turn it over
in an efficient enough performance against the Texans in Houston.
Baby steps, right? The problem is that an efficient-esque Bortles
is a way less productive/interesting Bortles, at least from a
fantasy perspective. Don’t expect that to change in Week
2. The Jags are determined to keep him at fewer than 30 attempts
per game and Tennessee comes in wanting to establish a running
attack they seemed to abandon last Sunday. Expect fewer than normal
offensive plays and just modest production. Oh, almost forgot.
The only quarterback to complete fewer than 50% of his passes
in Week 1 was the one they call the GOAT.
Sam Bradford @ PIT: Bradford
was one of two off-brand QBs I recommended you start in Week 1
and, wouldn’t you know, they both went out and posted stellar
digits. Alex Smith led all scorers at the position with 34.7 points,
besting the GOAT at his own game and on his own field, no less.
Bradford, not to be outdone, gutted the New Orleans secondary
four days later in Minneapolis (27-for-32, 346 yards, and three
TD strikes). It’s tough to start someone who underwhelms
(e.g., Andy Dalton), but it’s just as difficult to sit down
a recent ace performer. Nevertheless, I’m suggesting you
do exactly that unless you don’t have a better option. The
Steelers got after the much more mobile DeShone Kizer (seven sacks)
and must be licking their chops with the statue-like Bradford
and his suspect offensive line coming to town. I don’t like