This has been a weird season for fantasy. Matt Ryan is the #1 QB. Julio Jones had a 50-point game (in PPR). In short, it’s been crazy, and it’s been fun. It’s also been extremely unpredictable. But, let’s be honest, that’s part of the reason why fantasy football is so much fun.
On Thursday, the Atlanta Falcons take on the Tampa Bay Buccaneers in what is a truly important divisional match-up. An Atlanta win puts them comfortably in the drivers seat of the NFC South, with a three game lead over their closest opponent and a 3-1 divisional record. A Tampa win gives them the sweep and pulls them within one game of the Falcons.
As this is a Thursday night game, it’s important to note a common trend: these sorts of games tend to favor RBs, while WRs tend to struggle. It’s not a hard rule, but it’s something to keep in mind. Now watch as I ignore it with these player predictions.
P.S. You should start Julio Jones every week that he’s healthy. You shouldn’t need me to tell you that.
QB Matt Ryan
Ryan is looking like a must-start this season, particularly against favorable match-ups. He’s got an offense chock full of playmakers and a good running game and OL to back him up. The Buccaneers just allowed Derek Carr to throw for over 500 yards. Ryan could have a fantastic day, and is an elite QB1 against Tampa.
WR Mohamed Sanu
While it looks likely that Julio Jones will play, I think Sanu will remain a key part of the offense. Not to mention that he had one of his best games of the season against Tampa in Week 1. Don’t expect explosive numbers, but on a week with six teams on bye, Sanu is a flex option with considerable upside.
QB Jameis Winston
The painful truth is that the Falcons have allowed a ton of points to opposing QBs this season. Winston isn’t a dependable play, but against the Falcons (and very likely trailing for much of the game) he has a high floor. If you’re in a tough spot at QB, Winston is an excellent streaming option.
WR Mike Evans
Evans is having a fantastic season, especially in fantasy. While the Falcons have managed fairly well against opponent’s #1 WRs, Evans is going to be force-fed the ball, particularly with the Buccaneers down so many RBs. He’s a WR1 this week and has a high probability of catching a TD.
RB Devonta Freeman
The Bucs are one of the best run defenses in the league, and largely kept Freeman in check Week 1. Atlanta is likely to emphasize the passing game, and while Freeman is still a flex-worthy option (his floor is much safer in PPR), you should temper your expectations.
With Jacquizz Rodgers almost assuredly out with a foot sprain and Doug Martin still sidelined with a hamstring injury, the Bucs are down to ex-Falcon superstar Antone Smith and rookie Peyton Barber. Neither are terrible RBs, but Smith is purely a rotational player and Barber is an untested rookie. I wouldn’t trust either in your lineup this week.
TE Cameron Brate
Yes, the Falcons traditionally struggle against TEs. However, Brate is merely an average TE and Atlanta has been significantly better against the position with Keanu Neal in the lineup. He’s a low-volume player that is merely a TD-or-bust option against Atlanta on Thursday.
Kevin’s Spicy Play of the Week
TE Austin Hooper
Alright, perhaps the second time will be better for Hooper. With Jacob Tamme out of the picture this week, Hooper should see the lion’s share of TE targets in this offense. Hooper has shown an ability to sneak behind a defense, and is a dependable target on third down. Ryan is likely to target him at least 5 times in this game, and he’s a tempting option on a heavy bye week.
Expect a lot of offense during this one, but Atlanta definitely has the advantage with Tampa’s ridiculous string of RB injuries. I hope you all crush your match-ups this weekend (and don’t lose because you started the Vikings defense when you were up by 1 point, thanks Vikings). Feel free to @ me with any fantasy football questions.