It’s here! The most anticipated game of the season for Falcons fans finally arrives on Sunday night, and it looks like it should be one of the highest-scoring affairs of the season. That means it could be a fantastic fantasy performance for many of our favorite (and most hated) players.
Let’s take a look at some of the players you should consider starting and sitting during Sunday Night Football.
Obvious plays: WR Julio Jones
QB Matt Ryan
This could be the best match-up for Ryan all season. The Patriots are the worst passing defense in the league and have given up huge games to almost every QB they’ve faced. Ryan has been plagued by atrocious luck over the first five weeks of the season, but that will turn around at some point. In a game where the Falcons will likely need plenty of points to win, look for Ryan to turn in a strong QB1 performance on Sunday Night Football.
RB Devonta Freeman & RB Tevin Coleman
This is another game where the Falcons’ RB tandem should see plenty of work. The Patriots aren’t quite as awful against the run as they are against the pass, but luckily both of these RBs get plenty of work in the passing game (or they should). Freeman has the higher floor and should be a good RB1 this week, but Coleman might have the higher ceiling with his ability to break off big plays in the passing game. If you have both of these RBs on your fantasy team, I’d seriously consider getting both of them into your lineup.
WR Taylor Gabriel
We’re going to go back to the well one more time with Gabriel. He’s been disappointing over the first five games of the season, but Gabriel is—for better or worse—a key part of the Falcons gameplan every week. We saw Ryan finally connect on a deep ball against Miami, now let’s see if he can do it again. With Sanu likely a little slowed coming off his injury and the Patriots’ likely to put all their resources into covering Julio, this is Gabriel’s time to shine. Fire him up as a boom/bust FLEX play.
Obvious plays: QB Tom Brady, TE Rob Gronkowski
WR Brandin Cooks
Trufant and Alford have historically played well against Cooks, but with Hogan still recovering from injury, Cooks might be one of the bigger parts of the Patriots’ offensive gameplan. In a high-scoring shootout, you can bet that New England will be trying to hit the deep ball early and often. It’ll be up to the Falcons pass rush to prevent that, but with a player like Cooks you only need one big play to justify his start. With plenty of targets heading his way, Cooks should be a good play on Sunday.
RB James White
You probably have dark, depressing memories of James White from some game I can barely remember. It was probably just a nightmare. Anyway, you can bet that the Patriots will be trying to replicate White’s production on Sunday, especially with the way their OL has been struggling over the first six games of the season. White could be a monster in PPR leagues this week, but his ceiling might be capped by the presence of Dion Lewis, who appears to be the “starter” at this point.
WR Danny Amendola
Again, with Hogan hurt, Amendola will likely remain a huge part of the Patriots’ passing attack in Week 7. As the replacement for Edelman, Amendola will suck up all the short-yardage targets from Brady and could have a very effective day in PPR leagues. A huge yardage total isn’t likely to be there, but Amendola is trustworthy enough to be a high-level FLEX play on Sunday Night Football.
WR Mohamed Sanu
I think Sanu, coming back from injury, will probably be at least somewhat limited in this game. Sanu has never been a high-level fantasy starter to begin with, so a limited snap count or ability could take him from a decent FLEX play to a miserable one. It’s possible Sanu looks great in this game, but unless you’re in a PPR league, you’re depending on him to score a TD to justify his starting spot. I’d avoid him if possible until we see for sure how healthy he is.
Other Falcons WRs
Again, there’s probably a decent fantasy day to be had among the Falcons rotational WRs—guys like Justin Hardy, Marvin Hall, and Andre Roberts—but good luck picking which one. None of them are trustworthy at this point, though it could be worth monitoring Hall’s snaps and touches. If he has another TD this week, it might be worth stashing him in deeper leagues.
WR Chris Hogan
Hogan struggled mightily last week while he continued to recover from his rib injury. He has continued to be limited this week, and I think it’s likely that the Patriots will continue to treat him in a similar way in Week 7. If you have better options, it might be best to go with a more reliable, healthy player instead of banking on Hogan to suddenly look healthy on Sunday night.
RB Mike Gillislee
After teasing us with several very good weeks, it appears Gillislee has taken a back seat to Dion Lewis in the running game. In a game script that is likely to favor the pass-catching RBs, Gillislee could once again be a forgotten part of the Patriots’ offense in Week 7. But then again, it’s the Patriots RBs, so Gillislee will probably get all the touches this week because reasons. Who knows with Belitricks.
Kevin’s Spicy Play of the Week
TE Austin Hooper
The Patriots have quietly struggled to cover TEs in 2017. We saw them almost give up two TDs to Austin Seferian-Jenkins in Week 6. Now it seems like New England is likely to be without LBs Elandon Roberts and Harvey Langi. This is setting itself up as a game that Hooper can potentially take advantage of. He hasn’t been getting the consistent targets, and he had that awful blunder at the end of the Dolphins game, but Hooper is a talented TE that should continue to get his opportunities in the offense. If you need a TE this week, Hooper could be a decent option.
Good luck in your fantasy match-ups this weekend. If you have any lineup questions, feel free to tweet them to me @FalcoholicKevin.