Nobody needs to be told starting Aaron Rodgers, Le'Veon
Bell, 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: Buffalo, Cincinnati,
Stafford likely won't be feeling his best,
but the matchup against the Saints is too juicy to ignore.
Grab a Helmet
Stafford @ NO– Stafford’s hamstring seems to be
okay this week in practice, but that’s not the only risky
aspect about this start or sit discussion, since his ankle is not
quite 100 percent either. Everything else, however, points to a
big day from the Lions QB, who’s adequately equipped with
offensive weapons and has a matchup closer to his Week 1 tilt with
Arizona, when he threw for 292-4-1 in a comeback victory over the
Cards. The Saints secondary is young, and was playing a little above
their heads heading into the bye. This will be a wakeup call for
a defensive unit that’s gotten quite lucky with a beat-up
Panthers team in Week 3 and the hapless Dolphins in London Week
4 – the two games they didn’t surrender a TD pass. The
Lions are a much different offense – filled with playmakers
that Stafford can use to pick apart the poor communication you find
with younger NFL defensive backs and linebackers. I’m including
him first because he’s the best QB of this group – and
I’m guessing there’s some trepidation because of the
ankle. Don’t worry – he’s gamer, he’s practicing
in the open portion and you should have ample warning should he
not be ready for the weekend.
Cousins v. SF – I watched Cousins play against the Chiefs
last week, and man – he’s got a lot of Tony Romo in him with his
anticipation of the pass rush and movement in and out of the pocket.
He has excellent instincts and is not afraid to fire the ball down
the middle of the field for those large chunk plays that inevitably
come with risk. A bye week has probably served him well and given
him some more time with Terrelle Pryor – who’s off to a sluggish
start but caught 3-70-1 on five targets, his highest total since
Week 1’s 11 looks from Cousins. Since the 49ers lack a corner who
can adequately cover Pryor, I think this could be their breakout
week. The week off should help Jordan Reed get back nearer to 100
percent himself. Cousins also has a great second TE in Vernon Davis
and one of the best pass-catching/third-down RBs in the league in
Chris Thompson, who’s already got 14-235-2 receiving and 142 rushing
yards on just 20 carries. This is an offense stacked for production
and one that will likely lean heavily on the passing game without
the punishing attack of Rob Kelley (ankle), who’s a longshot to
play this week.
Wentz @ CAR – Wentz looked great against the Cards on
Sunday (304-4-1), but he’s without his right tackle Lane Johnson
(concussion), so there’s some risk here. Still, I would much rather
play Wentz than any of the three QBs listed below or the dubious
Jacoby Brissett, a still-injured Derek Carr or Marcus Mariota, or
even Carson Palmer, who may opt to feed Adrian Peterson to see what
he can do behind what’s been a feckless offensive line. Wentz is
an emerging star with a bevy of talented receivers – and the Eagles
can work around the absence of Johnson, who at least is not Wentz’s
blindside tackle. If you’re missing your QB1, Wentz is safe to deploy
as a low-end QB1 replacement. He’s thrown 10 touchdowns to just
three INTs so far this year, and his opponent yields a 70 percent
completion rate. He’s an excellent bet for a 300-yard, 2-TD game,
a mark he’s hit three out of five games so far this season.
Grab a Clipboard
Roethlisberger @ KC – Big Ben tossed a career-high
five INTs that helped lead the Steelers to a devastating 30-9
loss to Jacksonville on Sunday. Now they get to face the undefeated
Chiefs. The Steelers have managed to win three games so far, but
are averaging just 20 points a game. The two-time Super Bowl winner
said he still considers himself one of the best that’s ever played
the position, and while that may very well be true, it’s clear
that Father Time has caught up to the lumbering signal caller.
Roethlisberger has just six TDs against seven INTs through five
games, and his 75.8 quarterback rating is nearly 20 points below
his career average. The Chiefs have allowed some garbage time
points in a couple games this season which has skewed their defensive
ranks, but they’re a capable unit who will continue to put pressure
on the veteran QB just like the Jaguars did. If you’re waiting
for his bounce-back game, this isn’t it.
Siemian v. NYG – The Giants are so banged up offensively,
it may not be a great idea to roll out Siemian. The Broncos have
a bunch of healthy running backs to rotate in and out of the lineup
and there’s really no sense forcing the ball downfield in a fast-paced
game when your opponent must be running the ball and using their
back s as much as the Giants will be. I’m envisioning a low-scoring
game dominated by the Broncos running attack, which should keep
Siemian in his current role of game manager. On the season, he’s
averaging 222 passing yards, and an INT per game with just 7 total
TD passes. I’ve seen a lot of columns recommending Siemian as
a spot start this week, but he’s just not built to dominate a
defense that’s much better against the pass. Sure — he could have
a huge game based on time of possession alone, but in the business
of season-long fantasy, it doesn’t pay to see him ranked any higher
than QB15 this week with so many capable arms in decent matchups. Philip
Rivers @ OAK – Rivers has a good track record against
the Raiders, but there’s a good chance they try to ride
Melvin Gordon to victory this week. Both of these teams are aggressive
and commit a lot of penalties, so there’s an outside shot
at a shootout if Derek Carr can return to QB1 status after returning
from a transverse fracture in his back. Rivers took a while to
warm up against a Giants unit that was banged up, and though he
could be getting Mike Williams back this week, there’s still
a few QBs I’d rather have as my starter than Marmalard,
who’s on the downside of a very productive but erratic career.
As far as the Raiders defense goes, they’re getting healthier
and Khalil Mack could have one of his dominant games in this battle
of division rivals. Call it a hunch, but I’m steering clear
of Rivers in DFS and shying away from him in season-long leagues.