Week 9 is here as we’re somehow already halfway through the 2021 NFL season. Hopefully through the first half your fantasy football teams have found more success than the Atlanta Falcons. Looking at this weekend, the Falcons are being hosted by their divisional rival New Orleans Saints, which is usually a tough matchup.
Throughout the season, every Friday, we will be previewing the fantasy matchups and who you may want to consider starting and also benching. Additionally, if you have any fantasy questions you’d like answered, you can submit them every week.
With that, let’s get started.
It’s time to bench Matt Ryan
After having a five-game stretch where Matt Ryan put up at least 20+ fantasy points in each game, Ryan hit a wall in Week 8 against the Carolina Panthers. Without Calvin Ridley on the field, Ryan’s receiving options have dwindled as Kyle Pitts becomes the focal point of the opposing defense. The Saints are always a tough matchup for Ryan, and they’ve allowed the 5th fewest fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks this season.
Although Ryan can return to starter fantasy form down the road, I would bench him this week.
Start Cordarrelle Patterson, bench Mike Davis
The reason you should start Cordarrelle Patterson against the Saints is because he’s essentially matchup-proof. Aside from Week 1, Patterson has recorded 14+ fantasy points in every game. With fewer receiving options on the field for Ryan, Patterson’s usage in the passing game will likely only increase, which makes him a must-start every week.
Mike Davis on the other hand should be left on your bench this weekend. The Saints have only allowed one team this season to total 100+ rushing yards in a game, and Davis has yet to crack the 55+ rushing yards mark in a game this season. The Saints have allowed the 4th fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season, and I just don’t see a path to Davis being fantasy relevant this week.
You have to start Kyle Pitts, but you should limit expectations
Everyone is now alerted to the greatness of Kyle Pitts as he has emerged as one of the better tight ends in the league, even as rookie. With Ridley gone for the foreseeable future, Pitts instantly becomes the team’s top receiving option and defenses are fully aware of this.
I fully expect the Saints will make the Falcons other receivers beat them and focus solely on shutting down Pitts, as the Panthers did. With that being said, the tight end position is so thin in fantasy that if you have Pitts, you start him... and just hope for a touchdown.
Calvin Ridley will miss a minimum of three games
It was announced during the Panthers game that Ridley was stepping away from football to take care of his mental wellness. On Friday afternoon, the Falcons played Ridley on the reserve/NFI list, essentially shutting him down for a minimum of three weeks. It’s unclear if Ridley will return after that, but until he does return, he should be placed in your injured reserve slot.
Looking at fantasy football, I would not touch the Falcons receivers on the current roster, but if you want a sneaky play, add Tajae Sharpe. Sharpe instantly becomes the most experienced receiver on the Falcons roster and Ryan seems to trust him, targeting Sharpe a team-high six times against the Panthers. Gage will also factor into some targets, but I don’t see any of these receivers being fantasy relevant every week. If you had to start one though, I’d roll with Sharpe, who is available in 96% of fantasy leagues.