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Joseph Hutchins | Archive | Email
Staff Writer

The Shot Caller's Report - Quarterbacks
Your Weekly Guide To Fantasy Lineups: Week 4
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: Pittsburgh, Indianapolis

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Ryan Fitzpatrick

Fitzpatrick threw for 676 yds and 4 TDs against New England in 2011.

Ryan Fitzpatrick v. NE: Itís been a wacky three weeks of NFL action, for sure, culminating in the Monday night circus at Qwest Field. How wacky? Fitzpatrick, despite a very inauspicious start against the Jets Ė 195 yards and three INTs, one of them a pick-six Ė now has more touchdown passes than Aaron Rodgers and Tom Brady COMBINED! Heís also 2-1, meaning he has one more victory than each of those studs and two more than Drew Brees. In the immortal words of Vince Lombardi, ďwhat the heck is going on around here?Ē (RIP, Steve Sabol.) I told you I liked Fitzpatrick this season so thatís not much of a surprise, but whatís with these other guys? Donít be afraid to start the Billsí triggerman against his more celebrated division mate and a Patriots D he lit up for 300+ yards twice in 2011.

Christian Ponder @ DET: A reader took me to task last week for suggesting a sit-down of Minnesotaís second-year signal caller against the Niners. Turns out he was right to do soÖbut for the wrong reason. Ponder, he contended, would never be considered for active duty by any reasonable, non-desperate GM against the stout San Francisco defense. We all know how that turned out (198 yds, two TD passes, and a rushing TD) so maybe itís time to reconsider his viability as a starting option, even against the leagueís better teams? The Lions will probably be one before itís all said and done but they just gave up about 1,000 yards to Jake Locker and the Titans last Sunday. I like Ponderís chances to put up some moderately good totals in Week 4. Donít forget heís also one of only three starting QBs with a clean sheet in the INT department. The other two are Kevin Kolb and Blaine Gabbert. Read those last two sentences again if you need more proof itís been an unusual start to 2012.

Josh Freeman v. WAS: Iím not a Josh Freeman fan. Letís just get that out of the way. Heís erratic, mistake-prone, and a poor decision-maker overall. He also fails to maximize his ability as a runner despite obvious natural gifts (ideal size and above-average mobility). In short, I wouldnít draft him. That said, if I theoretically owned him, I wouldnít hesitate to plug him in against the Redskins in Week 4. Washington may be abuzz about RGIII (and rightfully so), but they should be seriously concerned about a leaky pass defense thatís yielded 9.1 yards/attempt (31st in the league) and 10 touchdowns (32nd) thus far. The last time Freeman faced a secondary this poor, he torched the defending Super Bowl champs for 243 yards and a couple scores in a Week 2 thriller. If youíre on the fence with some other borderline options, give him a look this weekend.

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Cam Newton @ ATL: I know, I know. You didnít draft Newton to sit him down, early struggles notwithstanding. Still, isnít it at least worth considering on an ad hoc basis, provided you have a reasonable alternative sitting on your bench? I told you in the preseason I think heíll end up outside the top 10 by seasonís end and, true to form, heís perched precariously at #10 as we speak, right in front of the aforementioned Ryan Fitzpatrick (FF Today default scoring). The reason why is pretty simple: He isnít a good enough passer to compensate on days when he canít get anything going with his legs. Thatís happened twice already (in Weeks 1 and 3) and I think it could very well happen again in Week 4 when Newton squares off against the one division rival, Atlanta, he doesnít own. The Falcons lead the league in picks and have intercepted the Panthersí young star five times in his brief career. Just think about it, OK?

Jake Locker @ HOU: Like Newton, Tennesseeís young field general is still a work in progress. In just three games, heís shown he can be very good (last week against Detroit), very average (Week 1 against New England), and very questionable (Week 2 against San Diego). In other words, we really donít know what he is yet and probably wonít until at least the second half of this season. That means heís no better than a spot play when the matchup is attractive or youíre covering for a stud QB on his bye week. This particular matchup is far from attractive as the Texans are limiting opposing QBs to a mere 50.5% completion percentage, trouble for someone as inaccurate as Locker. Unless youíve been riding Andrew Luck or Ben Roethlisberger, our two spectators this weekend, there isnít a great reason to give him any run. Wait for a better opportunity.

Russell Wilson @ STL: @ReignOfTroy gets credit for my favorite tweet following Monday nightís farce: ďRussell Wilson became the first QB in history to throw a game-winning interception.Ē Sigh. Officially, Wilson, the once golden child of Cheeseheads everywhere, engendered their collective sorrow with the improbable six as time expired. Unofficially, he (should have) tallied one less TD pass and one more pick (probably two). I like his future as the leader of this team but the Hawks are built to ride Marshawn Lynch and a suffocating defense right now. That means Wilsonís probably going to be waiting for that first career 200-yard game at least a couple more weeks. Set him down against a Rams D quietly performing very well against the pass (two TDs v. five INTs).

Running Backs