Hey Falcoholics! Unlike the Atlanta Falcons, many of you reading this have made the playoffs. In most fantasy football leagues, the playoffs start this week, and you may have some questions on who to avoid and who to start.
Today, I will be covering the Falcons players heading into Week 14 and if they should be started in your league. Let’s get started.
QB Matt Ryan
In years past, Matt Ryan has been a top-tier quarterback in fantasy football. This season, Ryan has been far more hit-or-miss when it comes to fantasy production. Ryan hasn’t had three-plus passing touchdowns since Week 6 against the literal worst pass defense in the NFL, the Arizona Cardinals.
Looking ahead, Ryan has tough matchups against the Carolina Panthers and San Francisco 49ers pass defenses. Following that, in what would likely be your league’s championship, the average Jacksonville Jaguars pass defense. Unless there are better options, I’d stick with Ryan and hope he does well this week. Next week is going to be tough as Kyle Shanahan (I imagine) knows Ryan’s weaknesses.
RB Devonta Freeman
If you made it this far with Devonta Freeman as one of your starting running backs, you’re either extremely lucky or the rest of your squad is phenomenal. Either way, this week against the Carolina Panthers will likely be Freeman’s best game. A few weeks ago, Brian Hill struggled against the Panthers run defense, but Hill showed in the next game against the New Orleans Saints that he was probably going to struggle regardless of the matchup.
The Panthers have allowed the second-most fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. The Falcons should be up big on the Panthers, allowing Freeman to get plenty of carries. As long as he stays on the field, I predict Freeman will finish with a season-high 90 rushing yards and his first rushing touchdown of the 2019 season. I could be wrong, but if it’s going to happen, it’s this week.
WR Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage
If you have Julio Jones, you’re starting him – and you should. The Falcons receiving corps have had a very favorable schedule in terms of matchups. Julio Jones has 86.4 receiving yards per game this season, which is the fourth-best among qualifying wide receivers. What bodes well for Julio (and other Falcons wide receivers) is that the Panthers have allowed 178.1 receiving yards per game, which is the sixth-most in the NFL.
Calvin Ridley is a must-start this week. In Week 11 against the Panthers, Ridley tallied his highest fantasy total of the 2019 season with 28.3 (editor’s note: Oh, for crying out loud) fantasy points coming from his eight catches for 143 yards and a touchdown. Start him this week.
Russell Gage has also been making some noise since the departure of Mohamed Sanu and with the absence of tight end Austin Hooper. Over the last two weeks, Gage has totaled 19 targets, 13 catches, 128 yards and a touchdown. With Hooper returning this week, it will likely lessen Gage’s volume, but he remains a low-end flex play against a bad Panthers pass defense. In the playoffs though, you probably have better options anyway.
If you do survive this week, the Falcons play the 49ers in Week 15 which is a very difficult matchup. The 49ers have allowed the second-least fantasy points to opposing wide receivers this season.
TE Austin Hooper
Before missing the last three games with an MCL injury, Austin Hooper was the best tight end in fantasy football and statistically a Top 3 tight end in the NFL. With the mixture of it being a contract season for Hooper and the addition of Dirk Koetter as Falcons offensive coordinator who heavily focuses on the tight end position, 2019 was the perfect storm for an Austin Hooper breakout year.
If you have Hooper on your roster, good news! Everything points to him returning to the Falcons and your fantasy lineups this week. Before going down with an injury, Hooper had four straight games of scoring a touchdown which tied Tony Gonzalez for longest tight end touchdown streak in franchise history. Hooper’s remaining matchups are tough. He faces the fifth, first, and 10th-stingiest defenses in terms of allowing fantasy points to opposing tight ends.
With that all being said, you’re starting Hooper. The tight end position is extremely thin this season, so you likely don’t have anywhere near a comparable option anyway.
Well, that does it Falcoholics. I wish you all the best in your fantasy playoff matchups and if you need any additional fantasy advice, leave a comment below or find me on Twitter @EvanBirchfield. In closing, no matter what you read or what someone tells you, always go with your gut. Good luck!