After last week’s triumph, the Falcons undoubtedly showed that their offense can have success against a top-10 defense. But what about a top-3 defense? We’re about to find out.
This is the ultimate test for Matt Ryan and the WR corps. Denver matches up very well against Julio Jones and our other weapons, and their pass rush should force Ryan into quicker throws.
Meanwhile, Denver has been surprisingly competent on offense under QB Trevor Siemian. There’s a chance he may sit with a shoulder injury, but even rookie QB Paxton Lynch looked good last weekend. These two could challenge an Atlanta defense that has given up gobs of points to QBs and WRs.
So, who should get the start and who should ride the bench this week? Let’s take a look.
TE Jacob Tamme and TE Austin Hooper
The Broncos have only two weaknesses on D, and one is covering TEs. Tamme and Hooper have both gotten involved over the first four weeks, with Tamme looking as reliable as ever and Hooper showing off his athleticism and hands. Atlanta will feature these two as they look to take some of the pressure off Ryan and the WR corps.
RB Devonta Freeman
Denver is also below average against the run, which is where Freeman comes in. Atlanta will try to get the run going early, as they will likely need the threat of play-action to free up the WRs. Freeman should have a ton of work, particularly if the game is as close as many suggest.
RB CJ Anderson
Anderson is a great RB, and although he’s struggled somewhat in the last few weeks, he’s a lock to get 15-20 carries every game. Atlanta has been decent against the run, but Anderson’s workload and the likelihood of a close game make him a must-start this week.
WR Demaryius Thomas and WR Emmanuel Sanders
These two have been playing quite well with Siemian at the helm, and looked just fine with the rookie Lynch taking over. The Falcons have given up plenty of points to WRs, and you should expect that trend to continue against a quality Denver passing attack. I think Sanders likely has the better day, but both are WR2s with upside against Atlanta.
RB Tevin Coleman
This whole sickle cell trait thing is casting a shadow over Coleman’s role in this game. In all likelihood, Coleman will be fine. But there is an element of uncertainty in this unique situation that should have you looking for a better option on your bench this week.
QB Matt Ryan
Ryan has been the best QB in fantasy over four weeks, but pretty much every QB struggles against the Broncos. In the past two seasons, QBs have only averaged 13.3 points when they travel to Denver. Ryan is still a playable asset, but his upside is limited and you should start better options if you have them.
With the uncertainty surrounding the availability of Siemian, it’s hard to consider starting either one of these players. Atlanta does provide a tantalizing match-up for those who are streaming QBs this week, but until we know for sure who is starting (and even if Siemian starts, he’s a risk to re-injure the shoulder) you’re better off looking for help elsewhere.
Other Broncos WRs/RBs
The Broncos have other WRs and RBs on the team, but you shouldn’t start any of them. This is a focused offense that gets the ball to its playmakers with regularity, and not really to anyone else. Don’t play other Broncos, even if you’re desperate.
Kevin’s Spicy Play of the Week
TE Virgil Green
We’ve been down this road before: it’s a TE against the Falcons. While Atlanta actually wasn’t terrible against Greg Olsen last week, this is still a weakness until De’Vondre Campbell returns. If you’re desperate at TE with several players on bye this week, you could do worse than Green, who is a TE2 with upside against the Falcons and had some decent games earlier in the season.
As always, I hope you all do well in your games this week. If you have any fantasy questions, feel free to @ me.