Kickoff: Thursday, November 18, at 8:20 PM ET
Location: Mercedes-Benz Stadium, Atlanta, Georgia
Betting Odds: ATL +7 , 47.5 Total on Vegas Insider
New England Patriots
Mac Jones (Sit)
Let’s cut straight to chase: Mac Jones has been fabulous this season. He is currently PFF’s highest-graded quarterback, and is leading a winning team; not bad for the fifth quarterback taken in last year’s draft. However, that doesn’t mean that the Rookie of the Year award favorite is someone that needs to be in your fantasy lineup. With under 25 pass attempts in back-to-back games, Jones is serving as the game manager for a run-heavy offense. Without enough passing volume or any rushing production, that doesn’t translate to fantasy success; he’s had under 13.5 PFF expected fantasy points in each of the past two games. Remember, there is a difference between real-life football and FANTASY football, where someone who provides rushing value, such as fellow rookie Justin Fields, should be prioritized.
Damien Harris (Start, RB2), Rhamondre Stevenson (Start, RB2), Brandon Bolden (Sit)
Damien Harris was unable to play in Sunday’s game due to a concussion, but he has been practicing this week and has been cleared to play on Thursday. He likely returns to his old role, though he may have some added competition for carries. That uncertainty, along with his lack of pass-catching, makes him more of a high-end RB2 on Thursday night.
Harris’ injury opened the door for Rhamondre Stevenson, who is coming off of a stellar performance with 25.4 PPR fantasy points. Now, he’s not going to replicate that performance, nor is he likely to get 20 carries again. However, he’s in the running for touches in a run-heavy offense, faces a favorable matchup, and is simply a good player (77.2 PFF rushing grade). That all translates to an RB2, as I’m guessing he’s earned a larger role even with Harris back.
Wide Receivers / Tight Ends
Jakobi Meyers (Sit), Nelson Agholor (Sit), Kendrick Bourne (Sit), Hunter Henry (Start)
Jakobi Meyers could technically be classified as a FLEX starter this week, but it’s unlikely you’ll want to play any of the Patriots’ receivers. That’s the product of a limited passing attack, especially when a lot of targets are going to the running backs and tight ends. It all comes down to game script here, so if you believe in the seven-point spread, you’ll want to avoid this passing attack. If you think the Falcons force New England to throw the ball more, then perhaps Meyers becomes someone to take a closer look at. Either way, you should feel comfortable starting tight end Hunter Henry, who has completely separated himself from Jonnu Smith, and has received at least one end-zone target in each of his past six games. That’s quite impressive.
Matt Ryan (Sit)
Heading into Week 10, Matt Ryan was a popular streamer pick against the Cowboys. How did he respond? With …. 2.7 fantasy points?? Yikes! After a slow start to the season, Ryan has progressed in head coach Arthur Smith’s offense, throwing the ball down the field more often and doing so efficiently. In fact, he’s finished as a top-12 quarterback in four of his past six games. Nevertheless, this isn’t a favorable matchup for him, and with Cordarrelle Patterson now out of the picture, the offense may be less effective anyway. Hence, why I’d lean towards sitting Ryan this week.
Cordarrelle Patterson (Start, RB2), Mike Davis (Start, Low-End FLEX), Wayne Gallman (Sit)
Cordarrelle Patterson is practicing ahead of the Thursday night matchup despite an ankle injury, and if he plays he can be deployed as an RB 2 due to his pass-catching ability, and the fact that the Falcons have few weapons to turn to in the passing game. Mike Davis may have increased opportunities, however, as a result of the injury. I know that having him even as a FLEX starter may seem controversial, but I don’t think it should be. Prior to the bye week, Davis averaged 13.7 PFF expected fantasy points per game, but has suffered from Patterson taking away a lot of the opportunities. Yes, Wayne Gallman had more carries than him last week, yet that mainly came after the starters were pulled, and all indications are that they’re prepared to roll with Davis this week. As a result, you’ll get a player with a high floor here.
Wide Receivers / Tight Ends
Russell Gage (Sit), Tajae Sharpe (Sit), Olamide Zaccheaus (Sit), Kyle Pitts (Start), Hayden Hurst (Sit)
Without Calvin Ridley, there isn’t a Falcons receiver worth starting. However, the same cannot be said for Kyle Pitts, who is essentially a wide receiver at this point. The 21-year-old is lining up in the slot for 47.9% of his snaps, and out wide for an additional 32.2% of the time. Meanwhile, his average depth of target (11.8 yards) leads all tight ends. In other words, his utilization is fabulous. Even in a very difficult matchup where New England will key in on stopping him, he’s someone you have to start each and every week.
All Stats via Pro Football Focus