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Joseph Hutchins | Archive | Email
Staff Writer

The Shot Caller's Report - Quarterbacks
Your Weekly Guide To Fantasy Lineups: Week 1
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.

Bye Weeks: N/A

Grab a Helmet

Alex Smith @ GB: The top two quarterbacks selected in the 2005 draft have only faced each other a single time. Smith was taken first that April while Aaron Rodgers famously sat in the green room until he was named the 24th pick. You know how it’s played out since: The former has slogged through seven mostly unproductive seasons while the latter has become the most lethal gunslinger in the game. Oddly, because of this last fact, I like Smith to show well in the 2012 opener at Lambeau. The only way to keep up with Rodgers, after all, is to score some points of your own. This wasn’t particularly difficult for opponents to do in 2011 as Green Bay ranked 32nd in total pass defense. That’s last place, folks. If the extra firepower San Francisco acquired in the offseason—Mario Manningham and noted Packer-killer Randy Moss—come through, Smith could significantly improve upon last year’s career-resurrecting numbers (3,144 yards and 17 TDs).

Jake Locker

A tasty matchup for the Tennessee QB right out of the gate.

Jake Locker vs. NE: New England was the only team even close to as crummy as the Packers at defending the pass last year (294 passing yards per game yielded). Though the Pats went defense with almost every pick in this year’s draft, the secondary still looks pretty similar to last year’s underwhelming group. Sound like a perfect setup for a young signal caller’s starting debut? Yup. Locker parlayed a strong training camp into the starting gig and now looks to right the Titans’ ship after several lackluster seasons. He’ll be missing a major weapon in Kenny Britt this weekend (due to a league suspension) but still has reliable Nate Washington, up-and-coming Jared Cook (a receiver trapped in a tight end’s body), and prized rook Kendall Wright to throw to. Oh, and he has a guy standing right behind him (Chris Johnson) whom the Patriots will need to account for on every play. I think we’re about to see why Locker offered good value on draft day.

Andrew Luck @ CHI, Robert Griffin III @ NO, or Russell Wilson @ ARZ: You probably selected these guys as long-term prospects in your keeper or dynasty league. Those of you in deeper or two-QB leagues, however, may need their production right out of the gate. Well, you’re in luck…so to speak. Mr. No. 1 Draft Pick assumes the mantel from Indy legend Peyton Manning and heads to Chicago for his professional debut this Sunday. Luck has looked more ten-year vet than deer-in-the-headlights greenhorn this preseason and will get plenty of opportunities to sling it in Bruce Arians’ pass-happy scheme. Meanwhile, RGIII heads to NOLA for a showdown with the high-scoring Saints. It isn’t difficult to imagine lots of points and a splashy debut for the former Heisman winner, who’s looked similarly poised in the early going. Finally, Russell Wilson, the most surprising of the five rookie starters at quarterback, heads to Arizona. The former Badger snatched the Seattle job away from presumed starter Matt Flynn by demonstrating innate leadership qualities, uncanny accuracy, and natural play-making ability. In other words, he’s a mash-up of the aforementioned gents crammed into a body most scouts felt would be too small for the professional game. By the way, they thought that about Drew Brees, as well.

Grab a Clipboard

Brandon Weeden vs. PHI or Ryan Tannehill @ HOU: Lest you think I’m too sanguine about the rookie quarterback crop. There’s almost no chance all five of these precocious field generals will be fully successful pros. Weeden and Tannehill, at this early stage, seem like the most likely candidates to disappoint. The former, a rookie in name only (he’s almost 29), inherits a moribund Browns offense lacking legitimacy at the receiver position. Greg Little showed flashes in 2011 and Josh Gordon sure looks the part, but…that’s about it. With Trent Richardson’s status up in the air, Weeden is a guy you’ll want to steer clear of in Week 1. Tannehill, on the other hand, is growing up before our eyes on HBO’s Hard Knocks and seems to have the right mentality to ultimately succeed. Here’s what he doesn’t have: a single wide receiver we’d be interested in starting…even as a bye-week replacement. Chad Johnson (nee Ochocinco) may have been a train wreck, but he was at least a proven target. Lay off Tannehill until he and his no-name wideouts develop some chemistry and consistency.

Ryan Fitzpatrick @ NYJ: It appears Fitzpatrick’s sharp 2011 decline, on the heels of a scintillating start, must now be attributed to some broken ribs he sustained in Week 8 and not, as could reasonably be surmised, from a post-payday letdown. Accordingly, I think he’s being severely undervalued for 2012 and I even targeted him in the middle rounds of a 12-team, 2-QB draft. Of course, I also snagged Matt Cassel a couple of rounds later so I could cover for Fitzpatrick when he played teams like the Jets. The Hahvahd grad has actually faced New York more than any other NFL team. In six starts against them, he’s averaged just 159 yards, one touchdown, and a pick. Yuck. If you’ve watched the Jets at all this preseason, you know a 9-6 yawner is probably in the offing, so…think seriously about giving Fitzpatrick this first week off.

Mark Sanchez vs. BUF: Well, have you watched the Jets this preseason? If not, here’s the abridged version: They. Can’t. Score. Sanchez isn’t the only problem, of course (his receivers are nothing special), but he hasn’t done much to allay the fears of an impatient coaching staff wondering why he hasn’t progressed further at this stage of his development. Making matters worse, that same coaching staff has publicly committed to a run-based offense which will almost certainly utilize Tim Tebow in the wildcat role. Often. So, Sanchez isn’t playing well, the brass wants to go ground-and-pound, and his backup will almost certainly poach goal-line opportunities from him. If you can think of a good reason to start Sanchez, I’m all ears.

Running Backs