Nobody needs to be told starting
Russell Wilson, Todd Gurley, 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 Wilson’s bye week? Let’s
talk. Looking for solutions at running back because Gurley 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-RB-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: Detroit, New Orleans
If you're a Brees or Stafford owner looking
for a bye-week fill-in, C.J. Beathard might be your man.
Grab a Helmet
Winston @ ATL: The Ryan Fitzmagic experience was way
more fun than we could have hoped it would be, but ended in fairly
predictable fashion two Sundays ago in the Windy City: disastrously.
Though it’s fun to think Fitzy unlocked Dirk Koetter’s explosive
Tampa offense, it’s far more likely the offense unlocked him, albeit
only for a few games. This is good news for Jameis Winston, who
takes the helm this weekend against the Falcons and gets to work
with those same explosive weapons (Mike Evans, DeSean Jackson, etc.).
I have my doubts about Winston’s leadership credentials and I’m
not certain Tampa is committed to him for the long haul, but there’s
no mistaking he’s a gifted passer and at least a little more efficient/less
careless than his backup. Don’t forget Atlanta has surrendered a
staggering 34.4 points/game to opposing QBs since Week 2. Winston
hits the ground running.
Dalton v. PIT: On paper, the only better matchup for
Winston in his first 2018 start—presuming he can’t defect post-coin
flip and square off against his teammates—would be a date with KC
or Pittsburgh. The Steelers are yielding 30.5 points/game to the
position, second worst in the league, and also create a high-floor
situation for opposing slingers in that they, like the Chiefs, can
cover for most defensive deficiencies with a high-octane offense.
Put another way, it’s easy to score on them but also very necessary
since they can keep up, creating a virtuous cycle of fantasy goodness.
Dalton’s been more “Red Rifle” than “Bad Andy” in 2018 and is currently
averaging 24.7 points game, a figure that would easily be a career
high if it holds up all season. It probably won’t but two dates
with Pittsburgh helps. He’s a must start for this first one.
Beathard @ GB (Mon): It’s definitely rewarding to watch
the game’s best ply their trade (Brees, Brady, Rodgers, etc ), but
there’s also a certain anesthetizing effect to all the perfect sight
adjustments, back-shoulder dimes, and needle-threading lasers. It
can almost come to feel…expected? Boring? For my money, it can be
just as fun watching the dicier options at QB—your Fitzpatricks,
your Beathards—wheel and deal. You’re just as likely to see something
awful as sublime, but you never really know what’s coming next and
that’s, after all, why a lot of us watch sports in the first place.
Beathard’s a flawed field general and the Niners stink, granted,
but he’s averaging 28.5 per game in his first two relief appearances
for Jimmy G and should be chasing points the rest of the way. Only
the aforementioned Fitzpatrick and Patty Mahomes are averaging more,
BTW. Do it.
Grab a Clipboard
Bortles @ DAL: Bortles raised warts-and-all quarterbacking
to an art form the last several seasons, eliciting the full spectrum
of human emotions along the way (happiness, sadness, disgust,
etc.). Though Jacksonville’s shot callers—not to mention fantasy
league GMs—would probably prefer a steadier option under center,
there’s no denying the bottom-line production: 3rd overall at
the position in 2015, 8th in 2016, 13th last year, and 8th so
far this year. Leonard Fournette’s health concerns are putting
an even larger burden on Bortles and he’ll probably be up to the
task most weeks. Nevertheless, there will be some gutter balls
along the way (see Weeks 1 and 3) and I suspect he’s due for another
Sunday. The Cowboys are in seeming disarray, but are holding up
on the back end and this has all the makings of a back-alley brawl.
Temper expectations for this slugfest in Big D.
Trubisky @ MIA: Who’s ready for another rousing round
of Guess That Quarterback?
Quarterback A: 591 yards, 2 TDs, 3 INTs, 64 rushing yards, 1 rushing
TD, 50 fantasy points
Quarterback B: 354 yards, 6 TDs, 0 INTs, 53 rushing yards, 0 rushing
TDs, 47 fantasy points
Any GM worth his/her salt would want Quarterback A (three more
points is three more points), but probably not if I told you it
took him three more GAMES to accumulate those stats. Regardless,
you don’t have to pick because…they’re both
the same guy. Quarterback A is Trubisky Weeks 1 through 3. Quarterback
B is Trubisky v. Tampa in Week 4. I’ve already told you
the Bucs field the league’s worst pass defense (130.5 passer
rating for opponents) but now Chicago takes on a Miami squad limiting
opposing throwers to a 75.0 rating, third best overall. Expect
to see Quarterback A Sunday.
Smith v. CAR: We’ll be without the services of A-listers
Drew Brees and Matthew Stafford in Week 6, meaning mid-level guys
like Alex Smith will get plenty of run as streaming options. I’d
feel pretty nervous about that, however, after what happened down
in New Orleans this past Monday night. Washington marched south
fresh off a bye week to take on a Saints team yielding over 320
pass yards and almost 3 passing TDs per game. The result? They
got drubbed 43-19 and the usually reliable Smith was particularly
abysmal (275 mostly garbage time yards, no passing scores, a pick,
and a fumble). If the boys from DC think they can compete in the
modern-day NFL with a backup running back serving as their best
receiver...well, let’s just say it could be along year in
our nation’s capital. Smith needs better weapons and doesn’t
have them. Steer clear this weekend.