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Fantasy Start/Sit for Cardinals at Falcons

Which Falcons and Cardinals can you trust in your lineup during their Week 12 match-up?

Arizona Cardinals v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Kevin C. Cox/Getty Images

Welcome to Week 12 of the NFL (and fantasy football) season. By now, you have a pretty good idea of where you are. Either you’re: a) going to the playoffs, b) fighting to secure that playoff spot, or c) out of it entirely. Let’s hope you’re in the A or B scenario, but even if you aren’t, you can still play spoiler to another team’s playoff hopes.

This week’s match-up is an intriguing one: the Atlanta Falcons (6-4) take on the massively disappointing Arizona Cardinals (4-5-1) in the Georgia Dome. Atlanta is in control of the NFC South and has been an offensive juggernaut, while Arizona has underwhelmed on offense and is nearly out of the playoff race.

This game is important for both teams in the real world, but for fantasy purposes, this game offers plenty of upside. Arizona has been solid on defense, but they haven’t been dominant (and have played especially poorly on the road). Atlanta also offers plenty of opportunities to create fantasy production.

Let’s take a look at some of the players you should start or sit this week.



QB Matt Ryan

During a week where plenty of QBs have difficult match-ups, Ryan should again find his way into your lineup. Sure, the Cardinals have been solid defensively, but they’ve played a weak offensive schedule (SF x2, Buffalo, LA, NYJ, MIN) and haven’t inspired much confidence. Ryan is at home and will be getting dynamic RB Tevin Coleman back. Expect him to bounce back in a big way and produce a QB1 outing.

RBs Devonta Freeman & Tevin Coleman

While the return of Coleman might take away some work from Devonta Freeman, both RBs are still start-able and figure to be a big part of the offense. Freeman offers you the higher floor as a dependable RB2, while Coleman is a boom/bust FLEX play with enormous upside. Start both with confidence.

WR Julio Jones

Look, as I’ve said before, you shouldn’t need me to tell you to start Julio every week. This week, you MUST start him, no question. The last time these two teams faced off, Julio absolutely abused Patrick Peterson to the tune of 198 yards. Atlanta is a vastly better team than they were in 2014, and I expect Julio to have another monster day.


QB Carson Palmer

Palmer has struggled mightily lately, but the Falcons are giving up the most fantasy points to QBs of any team. While you shouldn’t expect an elite day for Palmer, you can turn to him to produce borderline-QB1 numbers if you are in a tough spot at QB this week (for instance, if you had Andrew Luck). He’s not a must-start, but he’s better than most streaming options.

RB David Johnson

Johnson has been at least a top-3 fantasy RB this season, and an argument could be made that he is the #1 guy right now. The Falcons were gashed last week by the mighty Ryan Mathews, and Johnson is a much better player. While you should expect the Falcons D to focus on stopping Johnson, he’s still going to have a great fantasy day.

WR Larry Fitzgerald

The one dependable option in the Cardinals passing attack has been Fitzgerald, who is still a great player. He’s been one of the best slot WRs in the NFL this season and has consistently been Palmer’s favorite target. With the Cardinals’ OL in shambles and no downfield passing attack, you can trust Fitzgerald as a WR1 this week against a lousy Falcons pass defense.



Falcons TEs

With Coleman returning, he is likely to absorb a large portion of the targets that might have instead gone to TEs. Hooper is the lead guy here, but he has failed to gain a meaningful target share in this offense even with the absence of Jacob Tamme. Hooper, Toilolo, and Josh Perkins will likely split the work three ways, meaning you can’t trust any of them in fantasy.

Other Falcons WRs

In a similar manner to the TEs, the return of Tevin Coleman takes away some of the targets that might have otherwise gone to Sanu, Gabriel, Hardy, and Robinson. The only one of these guys you should even consider putting into your lineup is Gabriel, who is a boom/bust FLEX option with a low floor and doesn’t need many targets to produce. Don’t waste your time with the others.


WR Michael Floyd

It’s time to give up on Michael Floyd. If you drafted him and are still holding onto him, get rid of him now. He’s one of the biggest teases in fantasy, and the fact is that you just can’t trust him enough to ever put him in your lineup. It’s a shame, because last year he showed that he could be a dependable WR2. Sadly, he is nothing more than a low-end FLEX this season.

WR J.J. Nelson

I had a lot of faith in Nelson after the coaching staff called him their WR2 a few weeks back. Unfortunately, that lasted all of two catches before Nelson fumbled the ball and was immediately relegated to the bench. The Cardinals WRs are back to being a complete dart throw each week (aside from Fitz), and you should return Nelson to the waiver wire.

Kevin’s Spicy Play of the Week

Cardinals’ TE Jermaine Gresham

We all know how bad the TE situation is in fantasy this season. We also know how poorly the Falcons have covered TEs thus far. Add those two together and you get my spicy play this week: Jermaine Gresham. He’s been largely quiet for the Cardinals this season, but he caught a great TD last week and has been consistently involved in the passing game. Don’t expect a large number, but Gresham is an interesting streaming option this week if you’re desperate.

That does it for this week. I hope you all crush your match-ups and reach the promised land of the playoffs. As always, feel free to send your fantasy questions my way @FalcoholicKevin.