After a ridiculously one sided victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last Thursday night, the Atlanta Falcons will hit the road to take on the Teddy Bridgewater led Minnesota Vikings in week four.
As you all may have heard the Falcons are a different team away from the climate controlled confines of the Georgia Dome.
In two games at home this season Matt Ryan has been flawless—throwing for 734 yards and six touchdowns (and this was without Roddy White and Harry Douglas for most of the Falcons week three victory) and that number could have been even more staggering had Tampa Bay actually participated in the week three contest and not been down by like 75 before Ryan was pulled early in the third quarter.
But Ryan struggled mightily in week two against the Bengals as he threw three interceptions to only one touchdown and was under constant pressure against the stout Bengals front seven.
You could argue that the Bengals are the best defense in football and could be part of the reason why he, and the offense as a whole struggled in week two and I wouldn’t necessarily argue. But Mike Zimmer, the former Bengals defensive coordinator, is at the helm for Minnesota and if you look at how his defenses have held the so called “elite” quarterbacks in check over the last two seasons there is a reason to be worried.
Now I am not going to say whether or not Ryan is in that elite category but he is undoubtedly a top level QB in the NFL and Zimmer seems to have them figured out, in albeit a relatively small sample size.
Now for as good as the Bengals and Zimmer’s defenses have been the Falcons have been… Well, not.
Despite an eye popping performance in week two they aren’t a defense anyone is afraid of. Sure, they shut down the Bucs in week three—but like I previously stated they weren’t trying so it doesn’t really count and with them giving up a ton of yardage to running backs on the year Matt Asiata should be in line for a nice day on the ground with the Falcons front seven being very susceptible on the ground. However I don’t see having a huge day.
But through pure volume I see him ending up with a decent fantasy day that will be capped off by some freak 35-yard play for a touchdown.
For the Falcons running game, the convoluted mess will continue. I expect Steven Jackson to be a decent flex option simply because of the six teams on bye and I expect him to lead the team in running back touches again and of all the running backs I see him having the best shot at a touchdown, I project him for a 14 touch, 70 yard day with a decent shot at the end zone.
I see Antone Smith and Jacquizz Rodgers combining for the remainder of the RB touches with Devonta Freeman reportedly in the dog house.
I also think Cordarrelle Patterson has some value as well with how much he gets moved around and with him likely being the go-to playmaker and although Desmond Trufant has been outstanding this year he with how much Patterson gets moved around I expect him to end up with a nice game at the end of the day. I have him at 125 total yards and a touchdown. But besides him, Asiata and perhaps Bridgewater in a deeper or two-QB league there aren’t any Vikings worth starting this week, and for the Falcons you are starting the usual suspects—Ryan, Julio, Roddy… And both kickers.