Editor’s Note: As of this writing, there is concern about another cancellation due to a COVID-19 outbreak in Atlanta. The team has had four positive tests over several days and the league has shut down the facility as of Thursday morning. If things change in either direction during the week, we’ll update this article.
Kickoff: Sunday, October 18th at 1:o0 PM ET
Location: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
Betting Odds: ATL total via Oddsshark
Matt Ryan (Start, QB2)
Entering Week 6 will be a Falcons team without [now former] head coach Dan Quinn and general manager Thomas Dimitroff. Raheem Morris is now the interim head coach, as Atlanta looks to win their first game of the season. Matt Ryan has been inefficient the past two weeks, having not thrown for any touchdowns since Week 3 where he had only one against the Bears. The Vikings defense has been favorable to the QB this season, allowing the 11th most fantasy points to the position to date. If you have to start Ryan due to BYE weeks, go for it, but I’d look elsewhere if you can afford to.
Todd Gurley II (Start, RB2)
Todd Gurley II has had productive weeks lately, finding the end zone four times in the last three games. Averaging 15.8 carries a game, Gurley is set to face a Vikings defense that has given up the 14th most fantasy points to the running back position this season. He was able to shred the Panthers defense for 121 yards last week on 14 carries, and his RB2 volume should remain as the Falcons pass-game continues to struggle.
Wide Receivers/Tight End
Julio Jones (Start if active, WR2), Calvin Ridley (Start, WR1/WR2), Russell Gage (Sit), Olamide Zaccheaus (Sit), Hayden Hurst (Start if you must, TE2)
Let’s be truthful with ourselves: the Falcons pass-game plays through Julio Jones. When he’s not out there, Calvin Ridley does benefit, but the rest of the supporting cast tends to fade; even when we hang onto hope they’ll be productive in an elevated role. Jones was a true GTD last week against the Panthers but ultimately did not play. Hamstring injuries will forever linger, but if he’s fit to play, he’s set to verse a Vikings defense that is allowing the sixth most fantasy points to the wide receiver position this season. You are going to continue to lock in Ridley as your WR2 with WR1 upside (if Jones does not play again), though I think you should look for better options this week than Russell Gage and Olamide Zaccheaus.
Hayden Hurst is averaging almost six targets a game but hasn’t been all that productive. He’s found the end zone twice and will have a nice opportunity to do so this week against a Minnesota defense giving up 8.3 yards per pass attempt, a state that could attribute well for the tight end. However, it’s worth mentioning the Vikings are giving up the 13th fewest fantasy points to tight ends this season.
Kirk Cousins (Start, QB2)
You can’t ask for a better spot coming off of a brutal loss than the Vikings have this week. Kirk Cousins will be facing a Falcons defense that has given up the most fantasy points to the QB this season of any team. This game could end up being a high-scoring affair, and Cousins will look to limit the fumbles and interceptions than he had last week against Seattle. Averaging [about] 227 yards per game through the air, I’m confident in Cousins to have a strong showing this week; especially if Dalvin Cook misses time.
Dalvin Cook (Sit), Alexander Mattison (Start, RB2)
At the time of writing, Dalvin Cook is not expected to suit up against Atlanta with a groin injury. This decision is likely being made with the Vikings’ upcoming BYE next week. That said if you are fortunate enough to already roster Alexander Mattison, lock him into your RB2 slot. If he’s still on your waivers, fingers crossed you can land him. The Falcons defense is allowing the seventh-month fantasy points to the running back position this year.
Wide Receivers/Tight End
Adam Thielen (Start, WR1), Justin Jefferson (Start, WR3), Kyle Rudolph (Sit)
Adam Thielen – until further notice – remains the preferred option for Cousins, even with the emergence of rookie Justin Jefferson. Jefferson did come back to earth against Seattle last week but should see an uptick in targets assuming Cook is out. Thielen has six touchdowns on the season thus far, scoring two in a nine catch effort last week against the Seahawks. The targets are rising for Thielen weekly, and I’d look for the same against a Falcons defense giving up the eighth-most fantasy points to wide receivers this year.
If you’re suffering at TE2, you could do worse than Kyle Rudolph this week, as he faces the Falcons defense giving up the second-most fantasy points to his position. However, Rudolph’s overall involvement in this offense is practically non-existent, and I would avoid starting him if you can.