Primetime NFL has been a bit of a snooze fest all season long, but it gets a little better this Thursday as the Atlanta Falcons and Tampa Bay Buccaneers are set to deliver a high scoring affair in a game with large fantasy implications. Atlanta comes into this game eager for a win after losing the past 3 meetings against the Bucs – including a contest earlier in the season.
For Tampa Bay, they will rely on Jameis Winston and the passing game as injuries have dropped them to their 4th string RBs as Peyton Barber and Antone Smith are expected to split carries. Matt Ryan has been on the tear as of late and goes against a Tampa Bay defense which allowed over 500 passing yards to Derek Carr last week. Both teams have injuries at RB, making this an intriguing game for fantasy owners.
Tevin Coleman: OUT
Everyone with fantasy relevance should be in your starting lineup this week. Matt Ryan very well could finish as the top fantasy QB this week. Ryan enters week 9 after topping 20 fantasy points in 2 of the past 3 games. As said earlier, he’s up against a Tampa Bay defense which allowed over 500 passing yards last week and are 7th in most fantasy points allowed to QBs. Could Ryan be the next QB to surpass 500 passing yards?
Julio Jones remains a stud despite posting a 2 point performance last week. He’s a player you should never sit no matter the matchup, although he faces a favorable one in this game. Back in week 1 he posted 12 fantasy points against the Bucs. Mohamed Sanu is coming off his best performance since week 1, going for 14 points last week. His biggest game of the year? Back in week 1 against none other than the Buccaneers. He’s a must start this week and available in most leagues.
With Tevin Coleman out again this week, Devonta Freeman is the go-to guy in Atlanta’s backfield and a must start. As we saw last year, Freeman can go off for multiple TDs in any given week in the lead role. He carries tremendous upside into Thursday Night’s game and serves as a reliable RB2 this week with an even higher ceiling. Coming off a 17 point performance last week.
If you’re desperate at the TE position this week or need a ‘Bye Week Savior’, Austin Hooper may be able to serve as that guy, primarily in deeper leagues. The rookie has surpassed 4 points only twice this season, although he may be able to produce in a game where Atlanta is poised to pass a lot. Not a favorable matchup however, Tampa Bay allows only 6 points to opposing TEs per week.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Doug Martin: OUT
Jacquizz Rodgers: OUT
In any shootout, the QBs typically serve as the headline. I fully expect this to be a back and forth affair between Matt Ryan and Jameis Winston. I absolutely love the upside and matchup for Winston in this game. Since the bye week, Winston has averaged 19 fantasy points per game. The Falcons allow the 2nd most points to opposing WRs per week. Winston’s season-high of 25 points came back in week 1 against the Falcons – he could easily match that this week. He found himself on my Start/Sit list for week 9.
Serving as the go-to guy for Winston is none other than Mike Evans. Evans is the 3rd ranked WR so far on the season and could finish as this week’s top WR. He has eclipsed 13 points in 5 of 7 games so far this season, going for 15 in the opening week against Atlanta. Adam Humphries plays alongside Evans and serves as Tampa Bay’s #2 WR. The only reason I would start him is based on the implications of this game being a shootout which may give him some opportunities. However, Humphries averages only 4 fantasy points per game. Still without a TD this season. If you’re absolutely desperate, plug him into your FLEX and hope for a high scoring affair, otherwise I wouldn’t play him.
The backfield serves as a big storyline entering the game with both Doug Martin and Jacquizz Rodgers out. Peyton Barber and Antone Smith are expected to split carries – both serving as hot commodities on the waiver wire this week. Both bring different skillsets, but I prefer Barber a bit more despite the popular opinion. Back in week 7 he scored 14 fantasy points after going for 84 rushing yards and a TD. The bigger back of the two will be given carries at the goal-line and carries much more TD potential. A much better play in standard leagues. In PPR formats, I give Smith the slight edge. Smith has caught 3 passes in the past 2 games for 50 yards – he will be more integrated in passing downs with Rodgers out. I wouldn’t start either unless you’re desperate, but I do like Barber’s upside more as he carries the TD potential.
At TE, Cameron Brate could be a sneaky play this week. With a degraded running game, Brate could be heavily utilized as he serves as the 2nd most reliable weapon in Tampa Bay’s offense. Brate is a good redzone weapon and faces an Atlanta defense which allows nearly 10 points per game against opposing TEs – a pretty high rate this season. Coming off an 8 point game with a TD last week. A low-end TE1.