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Joseph Hutchins | Archive | Email
Staff Writer

The Shot Caller's Report - Quarterbacks
Your Weekly Guide To Fantasy Lineups: Week 15
Positions: QBs | RBs | WRs

Nobody needs to be told starting Aaron Rodgers, Arian Foster, or Calvin Johnson 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 Foster 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 Megatron and went RB-QB-Gronkowski in your first three rounds? I’m your huckleberry. Past results may not guarantee future success, but I believe ignoring them entirely can ruin your Sundays in a hurry. Read on for a little history and, hopefully, a little sage advice.

Note: Fantasy points based on FF Today’s default scoring system.

Bye Weeks: N/A

Grab a Helmet

Andy Dalton

Dalton's diggin' the Eagles and their slumping pass defense.

Andy Dalton @ PHI: I’m guessing the Red Rifle has been a very pleasant surprise for fantasy GMs this season. Despite being selected behind 18 other quarterbacks, on average, in this year’s drafts (10 and 12-team standard scoring leagues), he’s currently ranked 12th in points per game at the position, a solid improvement over last year’s final ranking of 16th. Clearly, most expected him to suffer the dreaded sophomore slump. Because he hasn’t, the Bengals are primed to make a second consecutive appearance in the playoffs. His fantasy owners, meanwhile, can dream bigger since he faces Philly on Thursday night, possessors of the league’s worst pass defense over the last five weeks (28.1 points yielded per game). A.J. Green v. Nnamdi Asomugha would normally be must-see TV, but the latter has struggled mightily and made probably his most memorable play of the season just last week: a groin-straining, celebratory piggy-back ride of teammate Jeremy Maclin.

Josh Freeman @ NO: Asomugha was understandably elated by Maclin’s last-second game-winner against Freeman’s Buccaneers, a score that virtually eliminated Tampa from the NFC playoff picture and earned the Eagles their first win in over two months. Though Freeman’s offense has certainly played well enough to reach the second season this year, it has been consistently betrayed by a leaky secondary, as it was again last Sunday. In fact, only one team has given up more fantasy points per game to opposing QBs than the Bucs have in 2012: New Orleans. To put it another way, there’s only one team you’d like to see Freeman face more than the team he just faced or the one he faces every day in practice…and he draws them this Sunday. Only Matt Cassel in Week 3 and Matt Ryan two weeks ago have been held to fewer than 22 points in a game by the Saints’ lenient back four, and Freeman’s last effort against them also happened to be his very best of the year, a 33+-point outing in Week 7.

Brandon Weeden v. WAS: You’re probably sitting pretty if you own one of the aforementioned fellows, but unless you’re stacked at running back and wide receiver, you didn’t make it this far by riding Brandon Weeden every week. He’s been good in spots, yes, and isn’t necessarily destined to end up the forgotten QB in the historically good draft class of 2012. He’s still in the discussion, however, and can’t be trusted against opponents who bring a reasonably decent pass defense to the matchup. Luckily, Washington doesn’t. At all. The Redskins are surrendering a laughable 289 yards/game through 14 weeks and have been especially helpless against some of the league’s lesser weights (e.g., Sam Bradford, Christian Ponder, etc.). If Weeden happens to be floating around on your league’s waiver wire or, better yet, collecting splinters on your bench, you might want to consider using him in Week 15.

Grab a Clipboard

Jay Cutler v. GB: Cutler amassed nine three-TD games back in 2009 and 2010, his first two years in the Windy City. Care to guess how many times he’s accomplished that feat in the almost two full years since? If you guessed once, you’re right, and probably already aware Cutler’s march toward fantasy irrelevance is nearing its final destination. The Bears are marching as well these days…in precisely the wrong direction. They’ve lost four of five and are in serious danger of missing the playoffs despite climbing as high as #3 in ESPN’s power rankings about a month ago. The last team they probably want to face right now is Green Bay, a team they routinely struggle to beat and one that happens to be surging and getting healthy just as Chicago is doing the opposite. By the way, nobody likes facing the Pack less than Cutler. Mr. Personality’s thrown 10 picks and just four TDs in his last five games against them, four of them losses. By the way, Part II: This is the iffiest I’ve felt about Aaron Rodgers as a fantasy QB in several years.

Tony Romo v. PIT: Like Kansas City did the week prior, Dallas overcame a devastating Saturday tragedy involving one of its linebackers, Jerry Brown, to shine on Sunday afternoon in a game they desperately needed to win. It can’t be easy to learn of a teammate’s demise just one day prior to a critical game, but the Cowboys persevered. Now comes the hard part: following it up with an inspired effort and another W against Pittsburgh this Sunday. It’s that “inspired effort” part that is often difficult for teams to reproduce in the wake of adversity. Even if Romo et al. bring their “A” game, they’ll be lining up against a Steelers group that is seething, and probably unsympathetic, after a less-than-inspired effort of their own last weekend against San Diego. The Curtain has been especially rough on opposing QBs this season, yielding just 14.5 points/game on the year, tops in the league. Romo’s a tough one to sit down in the playoffs, but it’s at least worth considering if you have other viable options. Don’t forget “et al.” may not include Dez Bryant.

Nick Foles v. CIN: The Pittsburgh D has been even more suffocating than usual over its last five games, yielding a mere 13.1 points/game to opposing field generals. Amazingly, that’s only tied for the best mark over that stretch as the suddenly resurgent Bengals, once losers of four straight, have matched it. And save for a layup against Brady Quinn and Matt Cassel in Week 11, they’ve done it against the likes of Eli Manning, Carson Palmer, Philip Rivers, and Tony Romo, a quartet capable of posting really big numbers. It seems the Bengal defenders have gotten downright salty since we last paid them any mind. Foles is coming off a sterling performance against Tampa (381 yards and two scores, including the game-winner), which I might add was correctly predicted by yours truly in last week’s column (pat, pat). This week, though, the kid looks like a strong play against candidate. Sit Foles down on Thursday night.

Running Backs