Eric Adams, Staff Writer
We got a big game in the big easy in week 16 as the Atlanta Falcons travel to New Orleans to take on the Saints. This game has big time NFC South implications as the Panthers, Falcons and Saints are all battling for the division. The Falcons knocked off the Saints in Atlanta just two short weeks ago on a Thursday night thriller. Such a quick turnaround means that these two teams are very familiar with each other and it will take some adjustments to come up with a winning game plan. Here is your fantasy forecast for all players involved.
Matt Ryan: The reigning MVP has not maintained his form this season as it seems the departure of Offensive Coordinator Kyle Shanahan to San Francisco has really affected his performance. The weapons are all still here for Matt Ryan but he just has not been as sharp this season as he was last season. Even worse for Ryan is that he now has to travel to the Superdome and face a Saints D that picked him off 3 times just two short weeks ago. I don’t like Ryan, the 16th best QB in fantasy, at all in this matchup. Steer clear of Matt Ryan this week; you can definitely do better than the Falcons quarterback.
Drew Brees: The 9th best QB in fantasy football this season has been reliable but the emergence of a stellar run game has actually hurt Brees’ fantasy numbers a bit. More on those backs in a moment but for now trust Drew Brees. If you’ve made it this far with him then you have to stick with him. He posted a respectable 16 against Atlanta in week 14 and even though I think this game calls for a running back heavy game plan, you should still feel comfortable with Brees at QB.
Devonta Freeman/Tevin Coleman: While these two haven’t been as dynamic as they were last year, they have still been pretty darn good. Freeman has been really coming on lately, scoring a total of 52 points in his last 3 games. That includes a 15 spot against a middle-of-the-pack Saints rushing defense. Tevin Coleman had a concussion last week and returned to practice this week on a limited basis. As long as he is cleared from the protocol then he will play. I like Coleman and he will be needed but Freeman is the guy to own in this backfield.
Alvin Kamara/Mark Ingram: Can you believe this team also had Adrian Peterson on its roster at the beginning of the season? Talk about an embarrassment of riches. The Saints, like the Falcons, have a dynamic duo of their own in rookie Alvin Kamara and Mark Ingram. Kamara, the 3rd best fantasy running back this season, has been extremely impressive running and catching the football out of the backfield. You have him then you start him. He was knocked out early in the last matchup with a concussion and that most definitely impacted the outcome of that game. Atlanta actually is pretty good against the run (only 8 rushing touchdowns allowed on the season and the 9th fewest rushing yards) but these two need to be started in every lineup. They have been too good all season to get cute with this week.
Julio Jones/Mohamed Sanu: There is absolutely no way anybody is sitting Julio Jones so I’ll just discuss Sanu here. The number 30 wide receiver in fantasy this season, Sanu has been a very serviceable WR2. He went off against a good Saints secondary in week 14 and definitely seems to show up in big games. This could very well be the biggest game of the Falcons’ season so I would start him and hope that he can replicate his 20-point performance that he posted the last time out against New Orleans.
Michael Thomas/Ted Ginn Jr.: How about Michael Thomas this season? The 4th ranked fantasy receiver has been a godsend for the Saints and fantasy owners has he has grown into one of the best wide receivers in the league. He posted an astounding 27-point performance in week 14 so he is easily a WR1 against the Falcons. Ted Ginn Jr. on the other hand, is far from start worthy. The next best receiver in the Saints offense has been nothing if not sporadic with his fantasy performance this season. He is nothing more than a deep threat, touchdown dependent receiver who should not be in your lineup.
Austin Hooper: Please do understand that the Atlanta offense is full of weapons so Austin Hooper really does not have any value this week. The Falcons’ game plan will likely revolve around their top 2 receivers and running back duo. Hooper only posted a 4-point performance against the Saints two short weeks ago so you’d be better suited looking elsewhere for a tight end. Here’s an article highlighting some streaming options provided by our very own Matt Hicks.
Josh Hill: Same as poor ole Austin Hooper, Josh Hill does not warrant any consideration for a start this week. You can find a better option on the waiver wire. New Orleans’ game plan will be run game heavy with some Michael Thomas sprinkled in here and there.