Last week, we saw the Falcons offense put up 35 points on what many consider to be, at the very least, one of the better defenses in the league. For the most part, the big performers were no surprises either: Michael Turner and Tony Gonzalez. Both had matchup advantages, and both ran wild Sunday against the Eagles.
This week against the Buccaneers, however, we can perhaps expect Matt Ryan to spread the ball around more so than last week. Tampa's defense has disappointed thus far in 2011, ranking 19th against the pass and 31st against the run over the first two games. While I'd be surprised if the Falcons just completely stomp the Bucs, as they remain a solid defense in my eyes, there are a few guys who have some interesting matchups in this weeks' game.
Without further ado, let's get into to start 'em sit 'em, week three:
numberFire Projections: 16.11 Points (22.73 carries, 100.49 yards, 0.84 TDs)
No surprise here. While some (myself included) though he might begin to take a step back this season, clearly this has not been the case so far. He's hit the century mark in both games this season, and while Tampa's run defense may be a little skewed by Adrian Peterson they're certainly not the Jets.
Also keep in mind that Turner has actually caught four passes for 72 yards this season, which is a big deal for him. If he starts catching the ball, that's a definite bonus to consider. All in all, there's absolutely no reason you should sit No. 33 this week. Enjoy your guaranteed 75+ yards and a TD.
numberFire Projections: 10.05 Points (5.85 recs, 74.36 yards, 0.43 TDs)
Although he remained relatively quiet against the Eagles (as expected), Roddy still proved that no one can completely shut him down. While three catches for 23 yards and one TD might seem modest, in fantasy that consistency is very welcome. Despite likely being matched up with the dreaded Aqib Talib, he's still a must-start guy in any league.
numberFire Projections: 16.96 Points (21.90 completions, 254.54 yards, 1.62 TDs, 0.7 INTs)
I take back what I said earlier: there was one big surprise last Sunday, and it was Matty Ice. A career-high four TD passes was not something I was expecting, but for those of you who started Ryan (as I did), it was a nice surprise.
As for this week, as long as Ice-man doesn't try to pick on Talib as he did against Nnamdi Asomugha last week I think he'll be okay. Talib consistently seems to have Ryan's number in these matchups, and he always seems to make a mistake or two against the Bucs. However, with so many other options available Ryan can simply bypass Talib if he feels so inclined. Feel inclined.
It's also worth mentioning that Ryan has been limited in practice for a couple of days, but he is fully expected to start against the Bucs. Fortunately for Ryan, Tampa Bay also doesn't possess the pass rush of either Chicago or Philly. Maybe he can make it through one game without his face constantly in the turf for once.
numberFire Projections: 6.23 Points (4.27 recs, 45.17 yards, 0.28 TDs)
As is the case with Turner, Gonzalez has simply been too good this year for you to not start him. Last week's performance was spectacular, and he showed us he still has a good bit of gas left in his tank. While Tampa Bay's linebackers and safeties are a step up from the guys Philly marched out onto the field, Gonzalez should still get his share of catches and red zone opportunities. Gonzo's started off hot, and you should stick with him until he cools off.
numberFire Projections: 3.75 Points (2.00 recs, 29.97 yards, 0.13 TDs)
Julio was also very quiet against the Eagles, but when a rookie is matched up with the likes of Nnamdi and Asante Samuel in only his second game there's only so much to expect. This week, he'll get a somewhat easier assignment in Ronde Barber.
Now, Barber is no slouch. He's still got a bag of veteran tricks up his sleeve. But there's a definite size advantage (6'3 to 5'10) favoring Julio. Jones will definitely start getting some looks in the red zone, and Ryan should have much more time to get the ball to him this week.
Do I think Julio will bust out for 100+ yards and two TDs? No. But I think he'll be good for at least 50 yards and possibly a score. Nothing elite as of yet, and you very likely have better options, but he's at least worth considering.
numberFire Projections: 9.37 points (1.77 FG, 3.35 XP)
Here's another guy you have no reason to sit. Bryant is automatic, and should the offense start firing on all cylinders his fantasy value should rise even further.
numberFire Projections: 7.93 points (23.76 points allowed, 2.19 turnovers, 2.19 sacks, 0.23 TDs)
The unit forced some turnovers against the Eagles, but as a whole were not very impressive. Josh Freeman is a very capable quarterback, and the Bucs also have a bruiser of a back in LeGarrette Blount. This group's start status has been put on hiatus for now.
Harry Douglas, Jacquizz Rodgers, Jason Snelling
I'm sure none of this is particularly big news or a shock to your system. Don't start these guys simply because thet don't see the ball enough to warrant a start. Douglas is talented, but at the moment he's receiving option No. 4. Rodgers has gotten a few carries, but overall not enough to make a fantasy impact.