Packers @ Falcons
Final Score: Falcons 25, Packers 24
Writer: Matt Prendergast (@amazingmattyp on Twitter)
This was an at times grungy, occasionally ugly, and sometimes frustrating football game. Desmond Ridder took three quarters to get there, but made some significant forward progress in his development with leading the Falcons gritty 4th quarter comeback. Arthur Smith showed he’s got a brass set on more than one occassion today, trusting his young team to finish the job rather than take the easy path in the moment and leave an opening for a Green Bay comeback. This week the 2-headed running attack was much more prominently focused on Bijan Robinson, but Tyler Allgeier still got enough looks to indicate the split will continue and give fantasy owners two legitimate RB options.
Green Bay unwrapped a new weapon they hinted at in Jayden Reed this week, and Jordan Love again looked in command of the offense and experienced – again, a couple throws need some tightening up, and he needs a little more work with decision making in the crisis-mode ‘potential comeback’ portion of this game, but that too should come with time. This was a tight one, and at times fugly from both sides, but a good showdown from two young squads still putting together their identities.
Additional note: Appropo of nothing in particular; every time they cut to Arthur Smith, I felt like I was looking at a human baked potato. A baked potato with an anger management issue.
- Bijan Robinson – Two games into a career and there’s been no reason to even doubt the hype momentarily. Bijan makes things happen.
- Jordan Love – QB2 inching closer to QB1 – just need some more yards and a couple more weeks of proving it.
- Drake London – Any week one panic should be allayed by London’s inclusion and production in week 2.
- Jayden Reed – and perhaps to a lesser degree, Dontayvion Wicks, but Reed had the arrival game. From a fantasy perspective, it would behoove us to remember that Christian Watson will be back soon.
- Those SWEET throwback Falcons helmets – I hadn’t thought about Billy ‘White Shoes’ Johnson and Steve Bartkowski in far too many years.
- Kyle Pitts – I don’t think it has anything to do with athleticism or capability, Kyle just hasn’t clicked the way he should – and this week he was outperformed by Jonnu Smith. At times it feels like the plays designed to go to Pitts are there for hopeful gamebreakers, but when it’s time for the down-and-dirty half of the modern day TE role, he’s playing like just another guy.
- AJ Dillon and the Packers Running Game – sans Aaron Jones, there’s little to fear here. A team can swallow 2-3 hard-churning runs from AJ Dillon in a game when those are complemented exclusively with unimaginative middle and off-tackle calls. Nothing here seems tailored to any particular strengths of the backs aside from AJ, whose entire usage is primarily ‘go straight ahead and see if you can still move 6 dudes by yourself’. There’s never any threat of a break away without Jones on the field. Emmanuel Wilson and Patrick Taylor were non-factors.
- Romeo Doubs – This is more critical of my prognostication skills than Doubs performance, but he just wasn’t much of a target this week, which rains on my (still alive) belief that he will end up the most productive WR on GB by year end. But today wasn’t it for him.
Green Bay Packers
Jordan Love: 14/25, 151 yards, 3 TD, sack | 2 carries, 23 yards
Overall, another decent-to-good outing for Jordan Love – three TDs on the day is nothing to sneeze at, but the yards still aren’t there to be starting him with total confidence. He’s going to develop with this young receiving corps and it has all foundation to be insanely great in a year or two…maybe even the end of the year. But there’s still a few too many slightly-off-the-mark throws, and a little bit of the yips at the end of this one, for me to push him past the QB2/backup spot quite yet from a fantasy perspective – he wasn’t drafted anywhere to be your starter, so barring a Tannehill sitch, you don’t need that quite yet. But if he drops another performance in the 20s next week again? Well, personally at that point I might be showing Justin Fields the wood, Jordan’s yardage challenges be danged.
- Opening flea flicker a lot of fun, Love was on the money, which directly resulted in the PI call
- Post-scramble swagger after the run exudes the confidence, but slide, Jordan. Taking a helmet to the thigh for no reason made me shiver a little.
- Got super luck drawing the long PI on a throw that did not have near enough gas on it. So again, the ball placement directly results in the great PI pickup, though this time it wasn’t ‘well placed’ or ‘catchable’
- Timing route to Musgrave well behind the receiver, followed up by another timing route directly into nowhere
- Got super lucky drawing the long PI on a throw that did not have near enough gas on it. So again, the ball placement directly results in the great PI pickup, though this time it wasn’t ‘well placed’ or ‘catchable’
- Horrible overthrow and missed read on opening to drive answering the Ridder TD, followed by the bad decisioin/force to Malik Heath that should have gone the other way.
AJ Dillon: 15 carries, 55 yards | 1 target, 1 reception, 8 yards
I cannot stress this enough, and this week should hammer the point home: AJ Dillon is not a starting fantasy running back. We’re all remembering three seasons ago, when it seemed like this was going to be a thunder and lightning combo to blow up the league. He’s not who we want him to be, or even still think he is. A great guy in life, by all accounts, but 55 yards for a whole day of no real competition for carries – and there were many opportunities!! – is just terrible value. You want to throw him on your bench for a while ‘just in case’, fine, but we’ve seen what he brings and who he is, and those do not equate being a relevant fantasy contributor now, or likely ever.
- One decent straight ahead run, commentary about his thighs, and followed up with three nothing-going-on runs Modus operandi.
- Backend Q3 power run showed flash of the AJ Dillon from a couple seasons back.
- Incredible waste of game time reviewing a one and a half yard run that SuperQuads should have gotten standing up but did not.
Emmanuel Wilson/Patrick Taylor: combined these two had 6 yards on 4 carries, and no receptions.
Neither of these guys contribute anything, real game or fantasy-wise, and are not relevant at this point. Wilson is still a raw work-in-progress, but will not likely be in conversation anytime soon. I only included because folks absolutely panic-picked them up this week just in case something wonderful might happen. It did not.
- First-usage end sweep completely choked out by terrible blocking execution. No fault of Wilson.
- Not many opportunities all day, but the few that surfaced didn’t amount to anything of consequence.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Romeo Doubs: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 30 yards
A disappointing outing for Romeo, who IN A JUST AND FAIR WORLD, would have seen more than 3 targets in a week he was projected to roll near WR1 usage – on the positive side, good hands and control on the two he caught, and the third was that huge PI call, so as a contributor to the GB effort, he was a solid factor. As a contributor to your fantasy efforts, he absolutely was not.
- Shake n’ bake attempt on first reception has me confident Romeo’s feeling all the confidence in that hamstring.
- Good hands again this week – this was a source of some heartburn last year, but looks to be addressed. Great comfort level with Love.
- Sure could’ve used some more throws his way, LaFleur.
Jayden Reed: 8 targets, 4 receptions, 37 yards, 2 TD
A pretty good second career game for Reed – definitely worth a roster stash if you’ve got bench room. When Jayden goes back to a WR3 role, assuming the eventual healthy return of Christian Watson, he looks like he could be a LOT to deal with and has potential to be in your Flex or WR3 sooner than later. Should GB continue to spread it around week to week, it could cause a headache, but let’s think positively! 8 targets this week to lead the team, Reed is worth a pick-up, if not quite a candidate to fantasy start quite yet.
- Oh that sly speed. If they have to start Reed off on gadget plays, so be it. That turned out pretty good for the last half of 2022 Christian Watson.
- Second verse, much like the first – Reed grabs another six going right against a combo of soft/blown coverage. A bad read from the D taken advantage of.
Dontayvion Wicks: 4 targets, 2 receptions, 40 yards
Wicks got targets for the second week in a row and made something of them this week. That said, he’s still going to be wrestling with Samori Toure (no line item for Toure, you get 1 yard on 1 catch you’re lucky to be mentioned in another guy’s blurb) for the WR4/WR5 slot week to week most of this season, and shouldn’t be rostered, save for in a dynasty situation where you can let him percolate for a year or two.
- Great power through and finish on the 3Q touchdown. Rolling out of the motion-to-crossing with great body control making the reverse field move work.that in.
- Missed touchdown opp against good coverage, but better hand positioning/strength could have brought that in. You gotta WANT IT MORE, Dontayvion!
Luke Musgrave: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 25 yards
Luke Musgrave showed some speed and better feet this week, but still only mustered 2 catches for a quarter-century of yards – I hear a lot of talk about ‘why not, seems like he could break out!’ whispers out there, but I think it’s still WAY too soon for Luke to be considered playable. This whole offense is under construction, and to this point, Musgrave just isn’t involved regularly enough to be in your fantasy discussions, despite ALL the potential, just way too soon.
- Better feet and confidence in second appearance. Speed will start causing more issues as they incorporate more of him.
Desmond Ridder: 19/32, 237 yards, TD, INT, sack | 10 carries, 39 yards, TD
For 3/4ths of this game, Desmond Ridder played a lot like I’ve gotten used to seeing. Tentative with decisions, and not making particularly strong ones in general. He missed a couple good opportunities with sailing a couple up high, and a couple down low, and watching him play, he rarely gets past a second read without running or rushing it – some of that can be attributed to a lot of pressure from the GB line, but a lot more is just who he’s shown himself to be. He generally looks like a guy that got rushed out at least a year too soon, and his play generally reflected that again today. However, the 4th quarter Desmond showed a lot less of all those traits, and lot more ‘guy you want to count on in the clutch’. This is one week, don’t get excited. I still think his ceiling is ‘capable game manager’ who can get London a few balls every week and get out of the RB room’s way the rest of the time. But a solid finale today, so maybe there’s more there. I still wouldn’t have him on a fantasy team barring emergency.
- Ridder seems to be switched off after a second read.
- Narrowly escaped government-involvement disaster after terrible attempt to force one to London past a crouched and ready J’aire
- Seems to power-shove short dump-off throws to Pitts/Smith. If it works, who cares?
- Great placement on critical throws to Jonnu and the touchdown to London, bringing both receivers back to shield out the defenders to their outside.
- Another sure pick by Quay Walker dropped, saving Ridder’s QBR again.
- Nice confident planned run on this score – one of the rare ‘young quarterback diving forward’ decisions that made sense.
- Confidence and execution in the fourth quarter looks like a different guy.
- Terrible decision making, strength and placement on first series pick. ‘Under pressure’ isn’t enough to justify floating that fat duck.
- Two overthrows of Pitts and a dribbler aimed at a receiver who wasn’t getting to his spot on all three passing opportunities in close red zone.
- Neither high or low enough on QB sneak. Just middle of the road for little success.
- Underthrows to Michael Pruitt and Drake London in same series.
- Position of end zone toss to Mack Hollins a little too high – over extension to bring that down put Mack too close on the landing.
- Needs to address that hairline.
Bijan Robinson: 19 carries, 124 yards | 5 targets, 4 receptions, 48 yards
As the kids say, he is him. Week two brought more of what we started to see week one, and Bijan Robinson will be a lot for everyone to deal with for quite some time. I can’t pull a lot of success from trying to describe him with words – like Barry Sanders, he’s a guy you really need to watch at least the highlights on to understand. The Falcons are already running a lot of this offense around and through him, and that will continue to give them a chance in most matchups. A must-start.
- Every time he touches the ball, Bijan’s body movement just looks like something huge is about to happen.
- Footwork and subtle body adjustments took a simple pitch to 19 yards. That play doesn’t succeed without this player.
- Vilma observation that Bijan doesn’t ‘bounce’ like a lot of young runners tells a good part of the story.
- Really didn’t see any- every running play isn’t a home run, nature of the beast. Bijan didn’t really make any errors in approach or judgement.
Tyler Allgeier: 16 carries, 48 yards
A little less successful this week – but still pulling an almost even split in carries with Robinson, I’m still super comfortable with running Allgeier as a RB2, even more so in a Flex opportunity. He’s their straight-ahead guy, and he’s good on it, just didn’t get a good shot at a breakaway against the tough GB line up front. That is a pretty tough group to punch directly through, so Tyler had a little less opportunity this week than his compatriot. There will be weeks that may flip. These are great problems to have, for ATL and fantasy play.
- Allgeier runs with confidence always.
- ‘Bruiser’ role in tandem.
Wide Receiver/Tight End
Drake London: 7 targets, 6 receptions, 67 yards, TD
Here was the Drake London you drafted.
- Early involvement, letting London make the play happen from the first series
- London makes Ridder better, and that will help the QB develop.
Mack Hollins: 6 targets, 3 receptions, 60 yards
We had a Mack Hollins sighting this week. Several in fact, and they turned out surprisingly pretty good! That said: I would under no circumstances be dropping a fundamentally and historically better player for him going forward, but ATL doesn’t win this game in the real world without his contributions and particularly the late game spectacular grab. Oh man. I’m going to pick him up in my dynasty league again, aren’t I? Seriously, 6 for 60 is a solid showing for the clear #2 WR option here, but I feel like most weeks, he’s the #4 or 5 option at best, and Desmond doesn’t like making that many reads.
- Mack Hollins is what he always is. An available option, nothing spectacular
- Well, up until this almost-score – that’s phenomenal field awareness nonetheless, particularly with the ball about six inches too high.
- Great hands on the gimmick play for terrific Falcons gain – that ball was falling a little short, but Mack out positioned a rocketing-into-frame Savage for a true game highlight.
- In the clutch,
Kyle Pitts: 5 targets, 2 receptions, 15 yards
I don’t think it has anything to do with athleticism or capability, Kyle just hasn’t clicked the way he should – and this week he was outperformed by Jonnu Smith. At times it feels like the plays designed to go to Pitts are there for hopeful gamebreakers, but when it’s time for the down-and-dirty half of the modern day TE role, he’s playing like just another guy. A non-factor in this game, I’m looking for better options already for my fantasy team.
- Touchdown chance early, but ball was placed entirely too high.
Jonnu Smith : 6 targets, 4 receptions, 47 yards
Did a lot of the dirty work this week, and was Ridder’s salvation on more than one occasion. I cannot in good conscience recommend him for fantasy play, or even deep rostering, but that good change if his bailout role becomes a trend. I cannot believe I watched Jonnu contribute more than Kyle Pitts, but it happened. It was a real thing. I wouldn’t roster either TE for fantasy at this point, personalluy.
- Great grab on risky throw by Ridder; Jonathan Vilma called it ‘very accurate’, but watching Ridder’s general passing so far, I think he meant to say ‘very fortunate’
- TERRIFIC grab on end of half drive placed behind him rolling over Darnell Savage.
- Catch and run nothing amazing, just solid TE execution.