The purpose of the Shot
Caller’s Report is to identify players who I expect to perform
like quality fantasy starters for the given week and, on the flip
side, to expose some of the more highly-regarded players who just
may disappoint. Each week I will take into consideration not only
the individuals mentioned, but also the state of their teams and
their opponents, team schedules, historical performance, inclement
weather (when applicable), and of course injuries. In my years
of involvement with fantasy sports, I’ve found that playing
probabilities often leads to success, but that does not necessarily
mean that a journeyman RB cannot gain 100-plus rushing yards against
the top-ranked rush defense or that Tom Brady is a lock for 350
yards and 3 TDs against the worst pass defense. Anything can happen.
With this dynamic, stat-driven article layered with insight and
opinion, however, I aim to assist you in making the right roster
decisions for your fantasy squad. Got a specific roster question
or something interesting to say? Send
me an email. I may not be able to get to all of your questions
or comments, but I will do my best to respond accordingly.
Freeman vs. DET
The Bucs face a much tougher schedule this season as opposed to
last, which could keep Freeman from making regular appearances
on this side of the column. But with the Lions on deck in Week
1, all bets are off. Last season against Detroit (Week 14), Freeman
completed 65 percent of his passes for 251 yards and a score.
There was only one game in 2010 (Week 3, vs. Pit) in which Freeman
did not throw at least one touchdown pass. Ride him while the
going is easy.
Easy going for Freeman in Week 1?
Matt Ryan @ CHI
Ryan, like Freeman above, threw TD passes in 15 of 16 starts in
2010; the opponent to hold him off the scoring sheet was again
the Steelers. This season, as the Falcons look to spread their
offensive wingspan, Ryan should top the 300-yard mark on a more
regular basis. He had only one 300-plus yard passing game in 2010
and has four in his career, one of which came against the Bears
(Week 6, 2008).
Matt Schaub vs. IND
Schaub’s past performances against the Colts haven’t been anything
to write home about, as he has averaged 227.8 passing YPG while
tossing five TDs and eight INTs in his last five starts against
Indy. With opposing quarterback Peyton Manning likely on the shelf,
however, I see Schaub rising to the occasion and performing quite
well. The Texans will not be thinking about blowing a lead (as
in Week 12, 2009) or playing from behind against the Colts this
week; they can focus on having fun and making some big plays.
Schaub has the ability and tools to do just that. He had seven
games of 300 or more passing yards in 2010, including one in Week
2 where he threw for 497.
Sam Bradford vs. PHI
Bradford’s rookie campaign was a success despite some sputtering
down the stretch of his first NFL season, producing just one TD
and six INTs over his final five games. In the six games prior,
however, Bradford was on fire, tossing 11 TDs and just one INT.
The talent is there and wide receiver Danny Amendola will be a
large part of the process. With the Eagles’ ability to put
points on the board, look for Bradford to be throwing early and
Tony Romo @ NYJ
Bench Tony Romo? Nah, not really. As a Romo owner (in one league,
at least), I can say with certainty that he’ll be in my
starting lineup, but this matchup falls under the ‘temper
expectations’ category. The Jets, coming off their best
season in 12 years, will be fired up at home on Sunday evening.
While they do allow some aerial scores (24 in 2010), they will
limit Romo’s yardage totals and force him into a turnover
or two. Romo has the talent and plenty of weapons at his disposal
to be respectable this week, but the real Tony Romo won’t
show up until Week 2.
Eli Manning @ WAS
Manning does not possess the same artillery as Romo, but he has
shown himself to be a serviceable fantasy QB from time to time.
I just don’t see his service helping many owners this week.
In 13 career games against the Redskins, Eli has thrown multiple
TDs just once (Week 14, 2009) and has had just one 300-plus yard
game (305 yards in Week 12, 2008). Hakeem Nicks and Mario Manningham
are quality options in the passing game, but it would be surprising
in this game if Eli did not make some bad decisions, which will
create both turnovers and disgruntled fantasy owners alike.
Joe Flacco vs. PIT
I have little doubt that Flacco will make his mark on the other
side of the report at some point this season. He is a quality
NFL starter and 2011 could be the year where it all comes together
for him. With running back Ray Rice and wide receiver Anquan Boldin
at his disposal, Flacco is the centerpiece to one of the NFL’s
top offensive trios. The problem this week for Flacco lies strictly
in his opponent, the Steelers. In six career regular-season starts
against Pittsburgh, Flacco’s numbers are not terrible; he
has averaged 214 passing YPG, while tossing six TDs and four INTs
in that span. Expect more of the same this week. However, I can’t
justify settling for 200 yards and a TD from my starting QB if
there are better options available.
Matt Cassel vs. BUF
Cassel has declared himself ‘ready to roll’ despite
recently suffering a cracked rib. He certainly showed promise
last season in setting a career high with 27 TD passes. While
he will likely gut it out on the field this week, the reality
is that he is one hit away from finding the sidelines, which would
leave important fantasy points on the table and could translate
into a loss for your squad. Let him heal before plugging him in.