Game Previews: All Fantasy Relevant Players For Week 5

Falcons vs. Steelers


Do you expect QB Matt Ryan to stay hot away from home?

Ryan has had an incredible start. With so many injuries to the defense, he has been forced into shootouts. The Pittsburgh Steelers’ defense is also quite porous. Sunday should contain a ton of offensive fireworks from both teams. It is somewhat concerning that Ryan’s one down game was on the road. However, that was against a stout Philadelphia Eagles defense. You can fire up Matt Ryan as a top five QB this week.

Is RB Devonta Freeman ready to roll and do you think he will be productive in his first game back?

All reports this week indicate that Devonta Freeman is ready to rock against the Steelers. It comes just in time for a Falcons team that has struggled to run the ball since his absence. Freeman said this week that he feels “explosive”. Hopefully, we see this explosiveness play out on Sunday. It is tough to recommend Freeman as any more than a RB3/flex option, but he could definitely reach RB2 numbers with ease. Temper expectations in his first game back.

With the return of RB Devonta Freeman, is Tevin Coleman unstartable?

Tevin Coleman still holds flex appeal. He is someone the Falcons value and mix in often. He is also a player the Falcons utilize in the passing game. With Coleman being ineffective the last two weeks, I do expect the snap count to swing in Freeman’s favor. However, he is still a player you can use in your flex, especially with bye weeks ongoing.  

Which receiver from the Falcons’ deadly duo do you expect to have the bigger game?

WR Julio Jones and WR Calvin Ridley should both see plenty of usage this week. Both have become locked and loaded starters with the emergence of Ridley. As I mentioned, this game should be a high scoring affair and both receivers should get a multitude of targets. Ridley and Jones have a very likely chance of getting a score or two. You would be crazy to leave either one out of your lineup.

Who is someone that you see having a big game that might be under the radar?

I feel like I have been beating the drum for TE Austin Hooper all year. Well, call me the little drummer boy, because I am beating it once more. Pittsburgh has been one of the worst teams at defending tight ends. Hooper is a big target and someone that Ryan trusts. The Falcons will need every weapon in this game and there is a good chance that Hooper has a big day in Pittsburgh.

-Aaron Rader


How worried should I be about the Steelers 2nd half offensive meltdown against the Ravens last week?

Last week the Steelers struggled in the 2nd half, as the passing game came to a grinding halt, and – wait, what’s the Falcons vs Steelers over/under this week? 58! Is that real?

No, you should not worry about the Steelers offense, not this week anyway. The Falcons defense has been decimated by injury more than any team in the league and comes off consecutive losses despite scoring 36 and 37 points at home. Now traveling to Pittsburgh, this is a disastrous spot for the Falcons defense. Pittsburgh’s 1-2-1 record and Atlanta’s 1-3 record should lead to desperation for both teams, which should favor each offense leaning on their high flying passing games. Let’s worry about the Steelers offense when they face a good defense. For this week, Vegas projects the Steelers for a league-high 30.5 points.

What is a reasonable expectation for James Conner this week?

James Conner has come crashing back to earth after his week one explosion against the Browns where he received 31 carries and scored two touchdowns while going over 180 total yards of offense. Oddly enough Conner has struggled the most in home games, averaging 2.1 yards per carry in both games in Pittsburgh. He bottomed out last week, home against the Ravens, where he rushed 9 times for 19 yards, and only caught 3 passes for 25 yards.

The Falcons have been lit on fire by pass-catching backs, with Alvin Kamara catching 15 passes on 20 targets for 124 yards and Christian McCaffrey catching 14 of 15 targets for 102 yards. While Conner has shown a solid range of 3-5 catches and 30-50 yards every game, I don’t see him in the same category as the running backs mentioned above.

Despite Conner not being a pass game force, the Falcons have allowed 30+ PPR points to opposing backfields in all four games. With Conner commanding nearly 100% of the Steeler’s running back touches, this bodes well for his week 5 projections. Jay Ajayi‘s week one line of 15 carries for 62 yards and 2 touchdowns seems like an achievable projection for Conner this week. It is worth noting, however, that the Steelers have passed on 24 of 31 red zone plays this year. With Conner lacking explosive plays the last 3 weeks, he will need red zone opportunities to make fantasy owners happy.

What Steelers pass catchers will take advantage of the Falcons depleted defense?

The Falcons are a top ten team to target for opposing fantasy receivers in 2018. They have allowed teams to spread the action around so far, however, with 10 receivers scoring more than 10 fantasy PPR points through 4 weeks. The Steelers tend to focus their targets to their top two receivers, so it will be interesting to see how that plays out.

Antonio Brown ranks as WR17 in PPR leagues, and while that sounds disappointing, his worst week has been 15.7 points and he offers a consistency that few players can match. This is a perfect blow up spot for him, as there should be plenty of targets to make everyone happy this week.

JuJu Smith-Schuster ranks as the WR12 this year, after scoring a season-worst 10 PPR points last week against the Ravens. Smith-Schuster has out targeted Brown twice in the last three weeks, with the exception being a tie with Brown for the team’s target lead. I continue to like Smith-Schuster as the slight favorite over Brown in the passing game due to his explosive big play ability.

James Washington hasn’t seen more than 5 targets in any game and hasn’t topped 2 catches or 25 yards in a game so far. It is worth noting that the Falcons have allowed touchdowns to similar secondary options like D.J. Moore, Torrey Smith, Ted Ginn, Cameron Meredith, and John Ross so far in 2018.

Vance McDonald has emerged as the Steelers passing game tight end over the last 2 weeks and has made a solid case that he should be targeted more often with his tackle-breaking ability. The Falcons have not been as bad against tight ends this year as other positions, but considering the current tight end situation across fantasy, McDonald is an excellent play this week in this high scoring matchup.

Ryan Switzer caught 7 balls last week but only turned them into 32 yards. Switzer lacks big-play ability, although the Falcons have given up 5 catches for 62 yards and a touchdown to Jarius Wright and 11 catches for 100 yards on 15 targets to Tyler Boyd, so they are vulnerable in the slot. Regardless, you would have to be in a very deep league to play him.

Any final notes on the game?

Since I haven’t mentioned him, start Ben Roethlisberger. That should have been clear from positive projections for his pass catchers. But in a home game with the week’s highest over/under, Roethlisberger has QB1 overall potential.

Cut the Steelers defense, and find a streaming option for this week. The Falcons offense has been unstoppable lately.

Chris Boswell recovered from a rough start to the season to make both of his field goals and both of his extra point attempts last week and is a solid kicker play in a high scoring game.

-Erik Smith

Ben Palmer

Lifelong Orioles fan (which can be....painful at times) and a Ravens/Wizards/Terps fan. I also listen to way too much music and watch way too many movies.



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