If we must suffer, at least there will be points to be had.
These pre-Sunday games have been a special kind of torture for so many fantasy owners in 2012. Thursday nights spent agonizing over every snap, every throw, every fumble and interception and field goal and touchdown, hoping to various deities that our guy will post a big number that’ll place our opponent squarely behind the eight ball – this is our lives.
We get the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions on Saturday night, with one team pushing for home field advantage throughout the postseason and the other team gimping to the finish line of perhaps the most disappointing season outside of Philadelphia this year.
Both teams are in the top-five in passing yardage per game. Atlanta averages 26.5 points per game, while Detroit puts up 23.5 per contest. I think it’s fair to expect a healthy dose of points in this one, even if a good chunk of it comes in garbage time.
Roddy White, WR, Falcons – I sense a ton of trepidation among fantasy owners who were burnt by White’s lackluster two receptions for 16 yards in Week 15 against the Giants. Probably that measly line crushed the dreams of owners who relied on White as an every-week top-10 receiver.
I think you can write off last week’s disappointing performance more to game flow than game plan. The Falcons jumped all over the Giants and never needed to unleash the full power of their aerial attack.
White will likely draw the Lions’ top cornerback, Chris Houston, who – in case you were wondering – isn’t exactly Champ Bailey. White’s knee is still balky, and it showed at times against New York. But in this game, indoors against a secondary allowing 22.2 fantasy points per game to receivers over the past five weeks, I don’t see how you can bench White outside of super shallow leagues.
I’ve ranked White as this week’s No. 16 wide receiver, just behind guys like Pierre Garcon and Cecil Shorts. If you own one of those receivers, or Reggie Wayne, for example, I’d let White sit. Otherwise, trust that he’ll get his in an enticing, potentially explosive matchup.
Matthew Stafford, QB, Lions – Justifying Stafford’s apocalyptic performance in Arizona last week has been, well, difficult for me this week. He misses Titus Young, Ryan Broyles, Nate Burleson, and Brandon Pettigrew more than the Lions are willing to admit, I think. Stafford has been reduced to throwing to Kris Durham, who could very well be the worst starting receiver in the NFL. Ever.
I’ve ranked Fat Face as a borderline QB1 against Atlanta for one reason: Calvin Johnson. Megatron has made it known to his coaches and teammates that he wants to break Jerry Rice’s receiving yardage record, so we can expect the game’s best pass catcher to be forcefed the pigskin throughout Saturday’s game. I would struggle to bench a quarterback who has thrown an average of 50.5 passes over his past four games.
Atlanta is a tough draw – their small but speedy and aggressive secondary has made elite signal callers look foolish this year. They picked off Peyton Manning thrice, they held Eli Manning to two fantasy points, and they intercepted Drew Brees an amazing five times. Of course, Brees still racked up 341 yards in that contest. The Falcons have confused even the game’s most savvy quarterbacks with exotic schemes dialed up on obvious passing downs. The Lions will have plenty of those on Saturday night, which, for me, is the central worry is recommending Stafford as a top-10 option.
The Falcons have allowed more than 250 yards passing in seven games this season, and quarterbacks have eclipsed 300 yards three times. In a possible shoot out, I like Stafford to add to the latter statistic.
Jacquizz Rodgers, RB, Falcons – Fantasy owners, in the end, weren’t able to will the Falcons’ coaching staff to abandon big, fat Michael Turner for his shiftier, more explosive backfield mate, Rodgers.
It’s tough to recommend Quizz, even in what could be a high scoring affair. His touches are sporadic, and he won’t get a sniff at an end zone carry as long as Turner has a pulse. Rodgers is averaging 10.5 touches over this past three games. Last week, he hurt owners in fantasy semifinal week with just 25 yards on 11 carries and a single catch for 14 yards. Again, game flow didn’t help Quizz’s production, since the Falcons could afford to take their foot off the gas in the second half. Turner is always the beneficiary of clock-killing mode.
Rodgers is my 33rd ranked running back for Week 16, just above Detroit’s passing down back, Joique Bell. Quizz would certainly benefit if the Lions can somehow engage Atlanta in a tried-and-true track meet, but headed into the game, I don’t think he’s any more than a borderline flex option.