As always, Michael Turner and Roddy White should never leave your lineup. They are every-week plays and have proven to be matchup-resistant. The rest of the Falcons should be considered based on opponent on your other options. This week we take a look at which players are likely to overachieve and which ones could be in for a subpar performance.
Falcons D/ST: The Falcons defense/special teams has been average all season but this recommendation is all about the matchup. The Panthers have given up 36 sacks this season (3 per game) and have turned the ball over 30 times (1.3 per game). They've also allowed five defensive/special teams touchdowns to opposing teams. They are the worst of the worst and the Falcons defense has to be drooling at the thought of lining up against them.
The Falcons have forced 22 turnovers this season and scored two D/ST touchdowns. For leagues that penalize for points allowed, the Falcons have given up only 19.4 this season and the Panthers have scored only 12.8 per game. Look for the Falcons to force two turnovers, record a couple sacks and hold the Panthers to under 17 points. A solid D/ST play this week.
Jonathan Stewart: Stewart is coming off back-to-back games of 90-plus yards rushing and scored last week against the Seattle Seahawks. Only six running backs have rushed for more yards over the past two weeks and he's averaging 5.8 yards per carry in that stretch. That's a whole lot of positive to ignore but his matchup this week is too intimidating.
I'm willing to call a mulligan last week. Before LeGarrette Blount and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers ran for 111 yards and one touchdown, the Falcons defense hadn't allowed a 100-yard rusher since Week 6 and hadn't given up a rushing touchdown to a running back since Week 2. With that game behind them, look for the Falcons to return to form and shut down Stewart and force the Panthers to beat them through the air. With the Falcons pass defense near the bottom of the league, they very well could, but there are better options than Stewart this week.