Thursday Night Football kicks off this week on NFL Network and features an inter-conference showdown between the Atlanta Falcons (6-2) and Baltimore Ravens (6-2). Who should you start and who should you sit? Let's analyze this week's matchups.
Start Every Reasonable Wide Receiver
Baltimore: As Jason Kirk already alerted you, Anquan Boldin and, to a lesser extent, Derrick Mason, make a great play against a Falcons' secondary that has allowed the most fantasy points - over 30 per game - to opposing wide receivers this season. Boldin is coming off a two-catch, 28-yard performance against Miami so a bounceback game is expected. The previous two times he's had a subpar game this season, he's answered with 142 yards and three touchdowns in Week 3 and 63 yards and one touchdown in Week 6. Get him in your lineup. Even Mason, who scored last week, could be a bye week filler against this embattled secondary.
Atlanta: If Roddy White plays, he's the only Falcons receiver you want to play. However, if he is ruled out, Michael Jenkins becomes an interesting start. The Ravens have an aura of having a great defense but that is not the case in fantasy, especially in the secondary. The Ravens, while not as bad as the Falcons' secondary, rank in the bottom half of the league at stopping opposing wide receivers and have given up seven touchdowns this season. The Ravens are stout against opposing tight ends so Tony Gonzalez will be taken out of this one leaving White to wreak havoc among the corners and safeties.
Tony Gonzalez: The Ravens are the second-toughest defense when it comes to stopping opposing tight ends. They've allowed only one touchdown this season and no tight end has surpassed 61 yards this year against them. Mix in the fact that Gonzalez has only surpassed 41 yards twice this season and he makes a fine candidate for your bench if you have better options. I'm not telling you to sit Gonzalez and play Dante Rosario but you may not get tremendous production out of the ageless wonder this week.
Baltimore Running Backs. As bad as the Falcons pass defense has been against opposing wide receivers, their rush defense has been almost as good. They allow the eighth-fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs, giving up just over 14 per game and haven't allowed a running back touchdown since Week 2. Rice has been inconsistent this season with as many single-digit point games as he's had double-digit and he's only scored twice - both in Week 5 -this season. McGahee's primary value is as the goalline back but as mentioned before, the Falcons don't allow touchdowns on the ground.
As always, trust your instincts. These recommendations are given so you can adjust your expectations of a certain player based on their past performance and current matchup. If you own Ray Rice you aren't likely to bench him but be prepared for lower-than-average production against a stingy run defense. Good luck!