During last week’s game, most fantasy analysts (myself included) thought that Denver had a good chance of stopping, or at least slowing down, the Falcons offense. That didn’t happen. Atlanta scored a TD on the first drive and never looked back, and it was the Falcons defense that instead put the clamps on Denver.
Fantasy can be fickle, and it can be almost impossible to predict. I’m telling you this because, as someone who analyzes the data and gives advice constantly, I know how hard it can be to make the “right” call. But what is the “right” call?
The “right” call is the one that is supported by data, history, and your gut. It’s not always the one that results in you winning your fantasy match-up. For example, benching Tevin Coleman last week was the “right” call, but may have cost you your game.
The data said that Coleman’s status and playing time were uncertain due to his Sickle cell trait. History said that the Broncos have been tough on defense, especially at home. My gut said that I couldn’t trust Coleman’s playing time or production, and so I sat him on the bench. Coleman then proceeded to rack up a great fantasy day.
Now, as we move to this week’s match-up between the Falcons and Seahawks, just remember: the “right” call is going to be the correct call nine times out of ten. But fantasy, being somewhat random and prone to throwing our predictions right back in our face, doesn’t always follow the rules.
Let’s take a look at some players you’ll want to consider starting and sitting on Sunday.
RB Devonta Freeman and RB Tevin Coleman
It’s clear to me that these two are the centerpieces of the Falcons offense, and will likely be involved in every game to some extent. Both are good, potentially elite plays depending on the match-up. Against Seattle’s excellent defense, you simply need to cap your expectations. Freeman will get the majority of the rushing and goal-line work, so he likely has the higher floor. Coleman is a threat to break off a big catch or TD run at any time, so he’s got the higher ceiling (particularly in PPR).
WR Julio Jones
You aren’t ever going to bench Julio Jones, unless he’s on a bye. But I think he has a great chance to absolutely explode in this game like he did against Carolina. Sherman does not match-up well with Julio’s speed, and I think Matt will be more accurate on deep balls now that the altitude is normal. Start him with confidence this week.
TE Jimmy Graham
This notorious Falcon-killer is now on a new team (thankfully). After suffering a horrific injury last season, Graham has returned to his old self and has had back-to-back 100-yard games. The Falcons have been better at covering TEs with SS Keanu Neal in the lineup, and LB De’Vondre Campbell is also expected to return, but Graham is back to being a very good receiving TE that is also a threat in the red-zone.
RB Christine Michael
After nearly finding his way out of the NFL, Michael has returned to Seattle with a vengeance. He’s looked better than last year’s dynamo Thomas Rawls (who is also injured), and has had two good fantasy outings in back-to-back weeks. Atlanta has been stingy to RBs this year, but Michael is a key part of Seattle’s offense and will get plenty of red-zone opportunities.
QB Russell Wilson
If you drafted Wilson, you’ve probably been disappointed thus far. Wilson has a strange history of struggling to begin the season before exploding in the second half. Atlanta is among the worst at allowing fantasy points to QBs, so if Wilson is back to being healthy this week, start him as a high-floor QB1.
QB Matt Ryan
Look, Ryan is the #1 QB in fantasy right now, despite a meager 15-point game against Denver last week. But that is what you’re basically looking at if you start Ryan this week, a 15-point line. That won’t sink your fantasy team, but it’s not helping you win either. I’d look to the waiver wire this week for a better match-up, but do not drop Ryan. His next two match-ups are much better (SD, GB).
Other Falcons WRs
This is becoming a pattern, isn’t it? The Falcons have still failed to establish any kind of usage pattern for the other WRs on the roster. But I feel I need to keep hammering this home to people, as every week I see someone starting Mohamed Sanu or Taylor Gabriel on their roster. Don’t do that. They are no more than desperation dart throws at this point, and you can likely do better on the waiver wire.
WR Doug Baldwin
Baldwin has been playing well this season, but the Seahawks offense as a whole has been merely average. The Falcons have been excellent at taking away a team’s #1 WR, and I expect that trend to continue with Trufant likely shadowing Baldwin during this game. He’s only a FLEX option against the Falcons.
Other Seahawks Offensive Players
Seattle and Denver are similar in this way: their offense is funneled through their playmakers. Wilson, Michael, Graham, and Baldwin are the only players you should consider starting on a weekly basis from this unit. Players like WR Tyler Lockett, WR Paul Richardson, WR Jermaine Kearse, and TE Luke Willson are no more than dart throws at this point.
Kevin’s Spicy Play of the Week
TE Austin Hooper
Hooper’s role on offense seems to be to sneak behind the defense on a few plays every game for big chunks of yardage. He also seems to be seeing an increased receiving role every week, while Tamme seems to be having his receiving role reduced. Seattle’s defense is similar to Atlanta’s in that they struggle covering TEs over the middle. Hooper is basically a TD-or-bust play this week, but in a fantasy season that is a barren wasteland for TEs, you could do a lot worse than Hooper.
I hope you all crush your fantasy games this week (unless you’re playing against me). Feel free to @ me with any general fantasy or line-up questions.