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Falcons players to start in your fantasy lineup or sit on your bench in Week 4

The offense is humming, and that’s good news for everyone’s fantasy prospects.

New Orleans Saints v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Daniel Shirey/Getty Images

That offense is really humming at this point. Another week of scoring over 30 points has me starting to buy into Steve Sarkisian more than ever before, and it has fantasy players who started the Falcons reaping the benefits.

Last week’s start/sit column was more successful than the “hit or miss” one penned for Week 2. The column went a solid 6/8 regarding how close the suggestions were to the actual player performance.

The Falcons match up with the Cincinnati Bengals this week — a defense which just got gashed by the Carolina Panthers all up and down the field in Week 3.

Translation: Atlanta shouldn’t have much trouble continuing to light up the scoreboard this coming Sunday.

Matt Ryan - Start

After accounting for nine total touchdowns in the past two games (and going 8/8 in the red zone), Matt Ryan has climbed the ranks to be the QB4 in fantasy football. Not coincidentally, Ryan is currently ranked fourth among all QBs regarding total touchdowns scored coming into Week 4.

The Bengals are currently seventh in the NFL in fantasy points allowed to QBs, and they just allowed Cam Newton to go for four scores against them. Ride the hot hand with Matt Ryan, and let’s all hope that Sarkisian has indeed figured it all out.

Tevin Coleman - Start

Coleman struggled to get going against the Saints’ good run defense, and managed to total just 47 yards from scrimmage this past Sunday. A touchdown catch early in the fourth quarter salvaged the day for fantasy owners and gave Teco a respectable point total.

Despite the struggles, the Falcons know how crucial it is to stick with the run game to set up the play action, so they gave Coleman a healthy 17 touches despite the struggles.

The Bengals just surrendered 180 rushing yards to Christian McCaffrey, and Coleman should get another healthy dose of touches in Week 4.

Even if Devonta Freeman makes it back this week, he’ll likely be on a snap count, so Coleman should be slotted into your starting lineup no matter what Free’s status is.

Julio Jones - Start

Julio is still looking for that first touchdown of the season, but his presence was more than felt in Week 3’s barnburner against the Saints. He drew the double teams which freed up Calvin Ridley to have his big day (more on that in a moment). After Ridley gashed the Saints continuously, attention was drawn away from Jones, and he started doing damage.

That was the hope for the Falcons after Ridley got drafted, and it started coming to fruition last week. Jones once again only had five receptions (that makes 10 in the previous two games combined after he had 10 in Week 1 alone), but he totaled 96 receiving yards. A fourth-quarter connection with Matt Ryan on a deep shot is hopefully a harbinger of things to come.

Jones is due for a touchdown soon, and I feel like this could be the week he gets it. Even if he doesn’t, however, he should still be in your starting lineup. The Bengals’ offense is good enough to force the Falcons to air it out, and Jones will always be the primary beneficiary of that.

Mohamed Sanu - Sit

Sanu was one of the two “misses” in last week’s column, proving me wrong after I suggested to sit him. Naturally, I’m going to double down and tell you to sit him again this week.

Sanu caught a fourth-quarter touchdown pass and the subsequent 2-point conversion to salvage a fantasy day which would have been another dud otherwise. He went for 36 receiving yards on four receptions.

Since Sanu is one of Atlanta’s bigger bodied WRs near the end zone and because Julio Jones is consistently used as a red zone decoy, there will always be a chance of the Rutgers product catching a TD pass in a given game, as he did against New Orleans. It’s not wise to bank on Sanu’s unpredictable TD tendencies when it comes to your lineup, however, because when he doesn’t score his stat line will most likely disappoint.

With Ridley emerging and Jones ever-present, it’s too big of a risk to start Sanu in an offense where he’ll be the third or fourth option, at best, most weeks.

Calvin Ridley - Start

What an explosion by Calvin Ridley in Week 3! The rookie out of Alabama made the Saints pay for the single coverage they gave him, going for 146 receiving yards and three (!) touchdowns. If not for a clear pass interference that wasn’t called early in the game, Ridley may have even scored a fourth TD. The performance was enough to have him be named Week 3’s “fantasy stud.”

Four touchdowns over the past two games have showcased Ridley’s emergence as the clear number two option behind Julio Jones in this offense. He’ll no doubt have some bad games here and there this season, but with how much the offense will have to score to make up for the porous defense, Ridley’s beginning to enter “must start” territory.

Atlanta’s 2018 first-round draft pick is currently the WR5 in all of fantasy football three weeks in. You don’t bench a hand that hot.

Austin Hooper - Start

Austin Hooper is the most difficult player to predict in any given week (until Freeman comes back and Tevin Coleman goes back into fantasy limbo). Last week, Hooper was listed as a “sit” and didn’t have excellent fantasy production — he caught three passes for 23 yards.

This week, I think he’ll be much more productive against a Bengals team which finished in the top 10 in fantasy points allowed to TEs in 2017. Cincinnati has also allowed the fifth most fantasy points to opposing TEs through three games this season.

With extra attention gravitating toward Ridley and Jones on the outside, Hooper should be able to get loose against single coverage.

Hooper is strictly a matchup-based tight end for fantasy purposes, and the matchup this week is favorable.

Matt Bryant - Start

Bryant had a rare lousy fantasy performance in Week 3, through no fault of his own — The Falcons were scoring touchdowns at a torrid pace, never breaking down in the red zone, and then even went for two twice in the fourth quarter because the situation dictated it. The Baylor product never got an opportunity to kick a field goal as a result.

This won’t be the norm, as the offense will somewhat regress from how efficient they’ve been, since that production just can’t be maintained long term. The offense playing very well will result in more opportunities for Bryant and should make him an elite fantasy option at kicker.

Stick with Bryant in your lineup, and remain patient with him even after the disappointing day against New Orleans.

Atlanta Falcons D/ST - Sit

LOL — end of analysis.