The Jacksonville Jaguars, a team now sitting at 4-9 with an interim head coach and a rookie quarterback, should be a blowout victory for a Falcons team that has finally found a bit of offensive success, right?
Not so fast, Falcons owners. The Jags may have a one-dimensional offense, but Jack Del Rio's old defense is possibly one of the most underrated in the league: they rank fourth in total defense, fourth in passing defense, and sixteenth in passing defense.
With the fantasy playoffs likely starting either this week or next for your team, you may want to play it conservatively with your Falcons players this week. This matchup doesn't look nearly as good on paper as one might think.
With that said, on to the numberFire.com projections:
QB Matt Ryan- I find it very difficult to recommend sitting Ryan after he just put up 42 points in Yahoo leagues by torching thePanthers' secondary in one excellent half of football. However, be prepared for an outing much closer to
the 15-20 point range this week.
Also, don't be afraid to look for another option this week that could be on your league's waiver wire (see: Tim Tebow against a soft New England defense). However, if need be Ryan should prove a decent start this week. He'll be his regular, consistent self, perhaps a touchdown or two and no interceptions. Verdict: meh.
RB Michael Turner- The Jags' (relatively speaking) weaker rush defense should provide an opportunity to get back on track after being mostly held in check against Carolina. However, despite the fairly impressive numbers Jacksonville has put up when playing the run, in recent weeks they've been far from dominant.
Last week LeGarrette Blount managed 74 yards and a touchdown against the Jags. The week before, Ryan Mathews managed 112 yards and a touchdown. There's also another element to Turner's performance: Mike Mularkey. A candidate for the Jacksonville head coaching job, they'll likely want to see success with Turner to assure ownership that he'll be able to utilize Maurice Jones-Drew as well. Verdict: definite start.
TE Tony Gonzalez- While Jacksonville has really flexed their muscles against opposing receivers this year (allowing the third-fewest fantasy points to wideouts), they've been pretty soft against tight ends (allowing the eighth-most points to TEs). Gonzalez, perhaps the most consistent player on the roster, should be great for another seven-catch, 80-yard performance similar to last week.
K Matt Bryant- He's only missed two field goals on the year, and both were tough ones. Still a great start, especially on a day where the offense may be settling for three points over touchdowns.
Atlanta D/ST- This is one of those few weeks where Atlanta's D has a real good shot at some sacks and/or turnovers. Blaine Gabbert has experienced his fair share of struggles as a rookie, and the Falcons' inspired second-half performance last Sunday gives me hope that it will continue into this week. It's also worth noting that Jacksonville, due to injuries, is very thin at wide receiver right now.
WR Roddy White- Why sit the most targeted wide receiver in the NFL? Because, as I've already said, the Jags have been phenomenal at shutting down wideouts this year. Perhaps that is because teams would rather run against the Jaguars, but regardless White will not be a good start this week. Also included in this is...
WR Julio Jones- Yes, he's coming off a 100+ yard, two touchdown performance against the Panthers, but if there's anything we know about Jones in his brief NFL career it's that he's been somewhat inconsistent (and injury-prone). Some weeks Ryan constantly looks his way, and others Ryan elects to stick with White and Gonzalez. It's anyone's guess, but to be safe I'd stay away from Jones this week.
WR Harry Douglas- With a healthy Julio Jones now starting opposite Roddy, Douglas probably won't see very many targets at all this week.
For more on the Falcons, check out The Falcoholic; for the Jaguars, head over to Big Cat Country.