So here we sit, stuck in a bye week. For the Falcons, it means time to get healthy and prepare themselves for the second half of the season. For fantasy owners, it means now you have to find a fill-in for your beloved Falcons team members. You're going to have to face your friend/co-worker/family member with a depleted team. How annoying!
Luckily, I'm here to help with that (aren't you thrilled?). So for those of you that own Matt Ryan, Michael Turner, Tony Gonzalez and the rest of the gang, here are a few names I feel would be worthy of a pick-up this week in lieu of your Falcons starters:
Christian Ponder (MIN)- 13.05 pts (227.40 yards, 1.12 TDs, 1.12 INTs)
Folks, the times of rookie QBs struggling are fading fast. We saw it earlier this season with Cam Newton, and for Ponder, his impressive debut against the Packers (22/49, 318 yards, 2 TDs and 2 INTs) makes him a good pickup for those of you who own Matty Ice. What's more, he'll be going against the Panthers this week, a much easier foe (defensively) than the Packers.
Tim Tebow (DEN)- 17.13 pts (202.97 yards, 1.30 TDs, 0.97 INTs)
He may not be a great passer, but those rushing yards (and TDs) make all the difference in the world. As we all saw firsthand last week, the Detroit Lions do not play the run all too well. Tebow is a running quarterback. I think you get where this is going.
Alex Smith (SF)-12.08 pts (167.51 yards, 0.98 TDs, 1.08 INTs)
Cleveland's defense may be one of the more underrated units in the league, but you can't ignore how former first-round "bust" has been playing this season: eight touchdowns and only two interceptions. He's solid, if unspectacular, and dependable. Jim Harbaugh deserves Coach of the Year, and Smith is deserving of a pickup.
Antonio Brown (PIT)- 7.42 pts (2.56 recs, 47.76 yards, 0.41 TDs)
Yeah, that guy that made the Falcons look silly during the preseason. Turns out he's had a very solid regular season as well. In fact, Brown is coming off a seven-catch, 100-yard performance last week, and will be facing a Patriots defense that has allowed the most points to fantasy wideouts. On top of that, Hines Ward seems a good bet to miss the game with injury, meaning Brown should see more targets. Suc-cess!
Steve Breaston (KC)- 7.25 pts (4.08 recs, 53.46 yards, 0.30 TDs)
Though the Chiefs offense has struggled without their star running back Jamaal Charles, they've had a few good games (most notably their 41-points on the Raiders last week). Breaston is the clear-cut No. 2 receiving option behind Dwayne Bowe, and they'll be going up against a Chargers defense that's been so poor they actually made Mark Sanchez look good last week. Not-super Chargers.
Demarco Murray (DAL)- 12.44 pts (75.26 yards, 0.68 TDs)
253 rushing yards and one touchdown against the Rams last week. Who saw that coming? Well, both Felix Jones and Tashard Choice are listed as questionable against Philadelphia, and given Murray's performance last week I doubt Jason Garrett would be too willing to rush either back from injury. We also know firsthand that Philly doesn't like to play good run defense. At least they have cornerbacks.
Pierre Thomas (NO)- 8.96 pts (45.73 yards, 0.41 TDs)
Demarco Murray racked up all that yardage against the Rams. Who do the Saints play this week? The Rams. Starter Mark Ingram has already been declared out, meaning that Thomas will get the nominal start at running back. How much Darren Sproles will cut into his workload I cannot say. But I do know that Sproles is too small to use too many times a game, and St. Louis' defense is non-existent.
Jermaine Gresham (CIN)- 6.70 pts (3.80 recs, 44.30 yards, 0.37 TDs)
Ever since Aaron Curry's departure from Seattle, the 'Hawks have actually been giving up more fantasy points to tight ends. That makes Gresham, who's been a reliable target for rookie Andy Dalton all year long, a good fill-in candidate for you Tony Gonzalez owners out there. Not quite a future HoFer, but he'll do.
For kicker, there's really not a whole lot I can tell you except pick one, as it's really just a crapshoot as to who excels each week. If he's available in your league, new San Diego kicker Nick Novak is probably worth a look. Other than that, you may want to simply pick based on who's been most accurate. Or flip a coin. Whatever works for you.
As for team defense and special teams... well, if you've been starting Atlanta's D/ST then I feel sorry for you. Do yourself a favor and pick up one of the "lesser known" defensive standouts this season (Cleveland, Cincinnati, Tennessee). Buffalo may not be a bad choice either, considering they're taking on the now-inept Redskins offense. But seriously, you just had to be the homer and take Atlanta D/ST? You should've taken the Jets like I did.
For more on the Falcons, check out The Falcoholic.