While Michael Turner's addition to the ranks of the injured is the first such occurrence this season, it's certainly not unexpected, especially when he's carried the ball at least 19 times in his past six games. He's gotten his share of bumps and bruises down the stretch before, and the Falcons have been content with keeping him active whenever possible. Mike Smith may limit Turner's carries, but I'll be darned if he's not starting Sunday.
Julio Jones' injury is likewise not expected to be a major concern this week, either. He played against Minnesota (albeit clearly not at 100%) and this is probably just a case of the Falcons being super-conservative with their prized rookie wideout.
With those two main injury concerns now out of the way, on to the start 'em/sit 'ems of week 13:
QB Matt Ryan: Despite the Texans' No. 2 ranked pass defense, Ryan is likely the safest play this week for the Falcons. Though he'll have Turner hobbled as well as Julio, Ryan's favorite targets this year have always been White and Gonzalez. He'll get the ball to those guys, along with a few looks towards Douglas, and perhaps find the end zone a couple of times. Don't expect a grand day. But comparatively, Ryan's your best bet.
WR Roddy White: White is the definition of hot right now. Two consecutive 100-yard games, both times catching seven or more passes, means Ryan is finally re-building his rapport with his No. 1 wideout. Though Jonathan Joseph has had a great year, he's also had a few bad games against receivers like Anquan Boldin, a guy who like White is a physical, possession receiver.
WR Harry Douglas: At this point, I'd still be wary about starting Julio. He failed to record a single catch against a terrible Vikings secondary, and he didn't practice this week at all. Douglas, on the other hand, has had a recent string of impressive performances, and has the ability to turn a big play in what will otherwise be a pretty tight ball game.
If Douglas is starting come game-time, I'd absolutely recommend him, as he'll be matched up against the less-talented Kareem Jackson, a sophomore who's struggled at times this year. If Julio is starting, well just be cautious would be my advice.
TE Tony Gonzalez: Pretty simple start, here. He's been the Falcons' most consistent red zone threat all year, and he should be even more instrumental in this week's game. As far as tight ends go, he's still a must-start caliber guy, even in his "old" age.
K Matt Bryant: The guy is money (19/20 on the year) and kicking indoors, so start him.
Atlanta D/ST: Surprise! Though the Texans possess a great rushing attack powered by the legs of Arian Foster, let's not forget that Atlanta also has the No. 2 rush defense in the NFL. They'll also be facing untested rookie T.J. Yates, which should lead to at least a couple of turnovers and/or sacks.
RB Michael Turner: This may come as a bit of a surprise, but given Turner's nagging groin injury that he suffered at some point last week, along with the Texans owning the No. 4 rush defense in the league, leads me to believe Turner won't have a good day.
Will he score a touchdown? Possibly. But my gut tells me that this game will be decided more by field goals than touchdowns. And with the injury, he probably won't be carrying the ball 20+ times like usual, and guys like Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers could see a little more action.
WR Julio Jones: As I hinted at above, the injury concerns and the caliber of defense he'll be facing on Sunday makes Jones a risky play in my book. He'll definitely play, but how effective he actually is could be a big question.