RB Devonta Freeman
Last week, Freeman was a complete dud as a fantasy asset, averaging under 3 yards per carry, taking a backseat in the passing game to Tevin Coleman, and not scoring once. After a pretty productive week from Mark Ingram of the Saints against this Oakland run defense, I like Freeman’s physicality and vision in this particular matchup, and imagine he’ll put up enough yards (and at least one score) to make him worth the start.
QB Matt Ryan
It was only one week, but I’m buying the Matt Ryan turnaround in a big way. He looked more comfortable in the pocket and with the offense than he did throughout 2015, and he enjoyed one of his best games in recent memory because of it. If Sanu misses the game he’ll have tougher sledding, but I see no reason to believe that he’ll have fewer than two touchdowns and 300 yards in this one, making him a solid play.
WR Julio Jones
Sure, there’s some question marks regarding whether Julio will be truly 100% or just 95%, which is 200% of your average human wide receiver. Despite a relatively slow week against the Buccaneers, he still scored and put up 50-plus yards with relative ease, and the Falcons figure to be able to pass in this one. Lock him in.
WR Aldrick Robinson
I prefer Robinson to Sanu if you’re searching for a desperation play at receiver—and really, I hope you’re not at this point--because I think there’s a strong possibility he’s more involved and winds up reeling in a couple of deep balls that’ll give him a solid yardage total, if not a long score. If you’re looking for a FLEX or a third receiver and you love to gamble, you could do worse.
RB Latavius Murray
Murray is a big, strong, fast back who has stretches of mysterious ineptitude. He’s running behind somewhat of a makeshift line and the Raiders figure to pass a lot, given the Falcons’ lack of a pass rush, so he’s not a true RB1 this week. That said, he can catch a few passes and is a virtual lock to score at least once if the Raiders are able to move the ball well, so you should get him in your lineup.
QB Derek Carr
I don’t expect the Falcons to be able to get after Carr effectively, so I fully anticipate that he’ll be good for 2-3 touchdowns, 300 yards through the air, and maybe a handful of scrambles. That makes him a fine play if you don’t have an elite option lined up this week.
WR Michael Crabtree
Dan Quinn indicated that Desmond Trufant might shadow Amari Cooper, which limits his appeal despite his obvious talent. That leaves Michael Crabtree as the biggest beneficiary of Derek Carr’s passing attempts, which means he could have a very big game overall. If you’re deciding between Crabtree and an arguably better receiver in a tougher matchup, I’d lean Crabtree, because I respect Alford but do think he won’t be able to contain the veteran all game, particularly if the pass rush doesn’t materialize.
TE Clive Walford
Your obligatory tight end. I like Walford, and while he’s not likely to catch a ton of passes in this one, he looms as a strong red zone option and could very well score. If you’re looking for a tight end—and how many of us aren’t, given how weak the position is?—you could do a lot worse than Walford against the Falcons’ safeties and linebackers this week.