While we've got a lot of coverage and Saints-related hate to work through before September 7th, I wanted to take a moment to talk fantasy football. Here are a few players you should plan to play and sit versus the hated Saints in that first, critical match of your fantasy season.
QB Matt Ryan: In two games against the Saints a year ago, Ryan threw for about 600 combined yards, two touchdowns and one interception, good for a combined 97 QB rating. The second game, of course, was sans Julio Jones. With healthier options and at least a modestly improved line in front of him, he should fare just fine against the Saints defense, as he often does.
WR Julio Jones: With a couple of exceptions, the Saints have done a good job of gameplanning for Julio and holding him relatively in check, but he's still been good for an average of 75 yards or so each time out against New Orleans. He's healthy and should be a focal point of the offense, so get him in there regardless.
WR Roddy White: Without Tony Gonzalez to soak up targets, he's the clear second option in the offense. Roll with him.
RB Steven Jackson: Jackson may not be completely healthy, but in a touchdown-only league in particular, he's likely to be the goal line back and get at least one opportunity to score. Go with him as a flex option, as long as he's healthy.
Falcons Defense: No one's quite sure how good this defense will be yet, and they're squaring off against an offense that features Drew Brees, Jimmy Graham, Marques Colston and some quality deep threats. I'd probably park the D on the bench this time out.
TE Levine Toilolo: I expect Toilolo to be a factor in the red zone, but at the start of the season I can't in good conscience recommend him as a fantasy option. He just hasn't shown much in the preseason thus far.
RBs Jacquizz Rodgers and Devonta Freeman: Neither figures to get many touches if Steven Jackson can go, and neither figures to get any goal line carries.
Which Falcons do you have on your team, and which ones will you be playing?
Editor's Note: SB Nation's partner FanDuel is hosting a $1,000,000 Fantasy Football Contest for Week 1's NFL games. It's only $25 to join and first place wins $100,000. Starts Sunday, September 7th at 1pm ET. Here's the link. FYI: These are just my opinions and Fanduel gave me money to play.