Week 3 is upon us, and we’ve already seen an impressive fantasy performance from the Thursday Night Football game. Anyone who started Todd Gurley or Carlos Hyde were probably pretty happy with themselves. Who would’ve thought a Rams-49ers game could produce such a productive outing for so many players and be entertaining to watch?
We now turn our attention to Sunday’s game, where the Falcons travel to Detroit to take on the Lions. This is, in my opinion, a criminally underrated game this week. Both teams are undefeated and could be potential contenders in the NFC. They also have impressive offenses and improving defenses.
In what profiles to be a shootout between two red-hot QBs, let’s take a look at some players you should consider starting or sitting in this Week 3 match-up.
QB Matt Ryan
Ryan has shown through two weeks that he is once again playing at the high level he achieved in 2016. Even in games where the Falcons don’t need him to pass the ball a ton, Ryan will get you yards and a TD or two. That makes him a safe option, if not an always elite one. Against Detroit, I think the game script shifts more towards a shootout. Trust Ryan as a high-floor QB1 with considerable upside.
WR Mohamed Sanu
Sanu has arguably been Ryan’s favorite target throughout the first two games of 2017. He’s amassed 15 targets and 11 catches, and although he hasn’t scored a TD yet, that is likely going to happen sooner rather than later. Sanu is clearly Ryan’s safety valve, and is a worthy FLEX play in PPR leagues. He could have favorable match-ups against Lions’ CBs Nevin Lawson and Quandre Diggs—both are 5’9” and have struggled with big WRs in their careers.
RB Tevin Coleman
With the news that Lions’ rookie LB Jarrad Davis is likely to miss the game with a concussion, there is serious concern about Detroit’s ability to cover RBs out of the backfield. Davis’ absence likely means either Paul Worrilow or untested rookie Jaylen Reeves-Maybin would be inserted into the lineup. Coleman could feast against those match-ups, and I expect the Falcons to make him a focal point of the offense if Davis has to sit on Sunday. Coleman is a high-level FLEX play preferably, but if you have RB troubles, start him as a low-end RB2 with good upside for more.
QB Matthew Stafford
Stafford has looked like a new QB this season. He seems to have finally hit his stride, and has been in full control of this Lions offense through two weeks. Stafford orchestrated a 4 TD performance against Arizona, and then followed that up with an efficient 2 TD outing against the Giants. He’ll likely be forced to throw a lot more against an offense like Atlanta’s, making his fantasy prospects much more enticing. Start Stafford as a QB1 with high potential on Sunday.
RB Theo Riddick
The Falcons have long struggled to cover RBs out of the backfield, and Riddick is among the league’s best receiving backs. With Abdullah healthy, Riddick isn’t seeing many carries, but he’s still the primary option on passing downs. Against the Falcons, it’s possible the Lions will be chasing points throughout the game. Riddick is a safety valve for Stafford and should be targeted often throughout the game. Fire him up as a reliable FLEX option in PPR leagues, but I wouldn’t consider him if you’re in standard.
WR Golden Tate
One of the Lions’ WRs is likely to draw Desmond Trufant in coverage, and that is not going to be a good sign for their fantasy prospects. I think it will be Marvin Jones, leaving Golden Tate potentially against Alford, or Brian Poole in the slot. Tate isn’t likely to dominate either of those players, but he’ll be an effective enough option for Stafford to justify a start as a WR3 in PPR leagues. He’s a similar player to Sanu in the Lions’ offense, and should be reliable.
WR Taylor Gabriel
As much as I want Gabriel to be a thing, he’s clearly not quite a big enough part of the gameplan yet to trust in fantasy. I think he’ll get there as the offense gets more comfortable under Sarkisian, but with Schraeder potentially out I don’t see the Falcons offense firing off a bunch of deep shots against a formidable Lions pass rush. Leave Gabriel on your bench for now, with that hope that a more consistent usage pattern emerges in the coming weeks.
WR Marvin Jones
I have a feeling that Jones is likely to draw Trufant in coverage throughout this contest, significantly limiting his opportunities. It’s possible he could get free for a big play, and I think it’s unlikely that Jones will get shut out, but he’s a risky play on Sunday. Expect the Falcons to try and force Stafford to beat them by playing the Lions’ receivers close and physical. Jones might be the one “sacrificed” to get better match-ups for the rest of the receiving corps.
RB Ameer Abdullah
If you’re like me and you lost David Johnson, you might be seriously considering starting Abdullah on Sunday because you have no better options. In that case, you might have to, but if you have the choice I’d steer away from Abdullah. The Falcons have done fairly well limiting RBs on the ground this season, and Abdullah isn’t much of a factor in the passing game with the presence of Theo Riddick. He’s essentially a TD-or-bust play against Atlanta.
Kevin’s Spicy Play of the Week
TE Austin Hooper
Hooper had a quiet Week 2 after his extremely productive season opener against the Bears. The real Hooper is probably somewhere in the middle, but he has the talent to be a dangerous option on every snap. Against a team that might be starting fan-favorite LB Paul Worrilow, the Falcons could see an obvious mismatch for the dynamic TE. With the dearth of quality TEs in fantasy, Hooper is in the TE1 tier this week with considerable upside. Just don’t expect him to get a ton of consistent targets with the other weapons the Falcons have in the passing game.
There it is, my advice on who to start or sit in the Falcons’ Week 3 contest against the Lions. As always, if you feel strongly about a player—go with your gut. This is just my opinion on the subject, and fantasy football loves to embarrass me by doing the exact opposite of what I think.
If you have any fantasy or lineup questions, feel free to send them to me @FalcoholicKevin.