Falcons @ Packers
Nobody really expected Atlanta to put up much of a fight against the Packers in Green Bay on Monday night, but we hoped for some high-octane offenses throwing the ball all over the field, at least. And we got that – at least from one of the teams. The Falcons struggles continued as they fell to 0-4, Rodgers lit up Atlanta’s injury-decimated secondary without the use of his #1 weapon in WR Davante Adams. Who produced for their fantasy managers and who couldn’t quite get it done? Let’s dive into what we saw.
Matt Ryan: 28/39, 285 yards | 2 carries, 10 yards
If you had hopes that Falcons’ QB Matt Ryan would bounce back from his dud in Week 3 against Chicago, you were let down on Monday night as Ryan was held without a passing TD for the first time this season. Once WRs Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley were both declared active it seemed as though we might be headed for a high-flying shootout, but Matt Ryan and the Falcons just couldn’t keep up with QB Aaron Rodgers and the Packers. Ryan was pressured often and his receivers had trouble getting separation consistently against the Packers, and Ryan’s fantasy output suffered as a result. While his situation has been troubling over the past two weeks, I wouldn’t cut bait quite yet. Ryan showed in weeks 1 and 2 that he can produce at a high level and your waiver wire is probably not stocked with a lot of better options. But should Ryan’s struggles continue to linger, it may be inevitable to cut bait on him down the road.
Todd Gurley: 16 carries, 57 yards, 2 TD | 1 target, 1 reception, 6 yards
Ito Smith: 2 carries, 3 yards | 3 targets, 3 receptions, 24 yards
Brian Hill: 4 carries, 10 yards | 2 targets, 2 receptions, 13 yards
The big takeaway from the Falcons’ rushing offense was clearly RB Todd Gurley finding the end zone twice against Green Bay on Monday night. With Atlanta playing from behind for basically the entire game, the game script skewed towards throwing the ball. Most of Gurley’s yardage came on a 20-play, 94-yard drive that took over 10 minutes off the clock and ended with a field goal. Gurley has been extremely limited in the passing game thus far this season, but his knack for the end zone has provided his output with a boost. There was nothing notable from a fantasy perspective for Atlanta’s backup RBs Ito Smith or Brian Hill, either. In the 4th quarter, Atlanta turned to Hill on 1st and goal and 2nd and goal, and so Gurley took the 3rd down carry 3 yards for the score. While Hill may steal a goal-line TD or 2 from Gurley and Smith may corral most of the passing-down work, neither of them seem primed for a large enough role to garner much fantasy consideration moving forward – Unless Gurley were to miss time.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Julio Jones: 4 targets, 4 receptions, 32 yards
Calvin Ridley: 5 targets, 0 receptions
Russell Gage: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 22 yards | 1 carry, -1 yards
Olamide Zaccheaus: 9 targets, 8 receptions, 86 yards
Christian Blake: 5 targets, 3 receptions, 47 yards
Hayden Hurst: 6 targets, 4 receptions, 51 yards
In an absolute head-scratcher, Falcons’ WR Calvin Ridley was held without a catch on Monday night – and this either made you very upset or very happy. Ridley seemed to be hampered by the ankle injury that had been limiting him in practice all week, as he consistently failed to get separation against the Packers’ secondary. He dropped a pass in the end zone on the Falcons’ last possession at the end of the game that would have salvaged at least a decent fantasy performance, but alas he was left with a goose egg. WR Julio Jones also looked a little hobbled himself before he left in the first half after reaggravating his hamstring injury. And while Ridley and Jones had a quiet night, it wasn’t Falcons #3 WR Russell Gage who picked up the slack, but instead, it was second-year WR Olamide Zaccheaus who paced Atlanta’s pass-catchers in receptions and yards. Zaccheaus was able to take advantage of Ridley’s bad night, but I wouldn’t jump to add him to your roster just yet. It will be worth monitoring Julio Jones’ injury moving forward, as Zaccheaus sees the largest uptick in volume from Jones’ absence thus far.
Green Bay Packers
Aaron Rodgers: 27/33, 327 yards, 4 TDs | 1 carry, 5 yards
We saw yet another QB1-worthy outing from Packers QB Aaron Rodgers on Monday night, as Atlanta’s injury-riddled secondary was no match for Green Bay’s offense. It’s Rodgers’ 2nd game this season with at least 300 passing yards and 4 TDs, and he is still yet to throw an interception through four weeks. Rodgers continues to return great value on his ADP of 84 overall, and with the Packers sitting at 4-0 and their offense rolling, it’s tough to imagine any sort of drastic dip in production for Rodgers. He hooked with TE Robert Tonyan for 3 TDs against Atlanta (more on that later), proving that even with his top two WRs Davante Adams and Allen Lazard he can still produce at a high level. Rodgers and the Packers are heading into their bye week, but he is a must-start against Tampa Bay in Week 6.
Aaron Jones: 15 carries, 71 yards | 5 targets, 5 receptions, 40 yards, 1 TD
Jamaal Williams: 8 carries, 10 yards | 8 targets, 8 receptions, 95 yards
Tyler Ervin: 2 targets, 1 reception, 8 yards
AJ Dillon: 1 carry, 3 yards
This game was, in my opinion, a perfect example of what to expect as the higher end of RB Aaron Jones‘ floor. Yes, if you have Jones rostered it’s frustrating to see RB Jamaal Williams eat into so much of Jones’ work, but it’s important to understand that Williams’ usage keeps Jones fresh. Jones was still able to find the end zone and surpass 100 yards from scrimmage on a night where Williams led the Packers’ backfield in all receiving categories. Jones also looked impressive with his rushing touches where Williams did not. The bottom line is, while Jones will continue to cede work to Williams, Jones is the clear-cut lead back in this offense and a bona fide RB1 moving forward.
Wide Receivers/Tight Ends
Marquez Valdes-Scantling: 8 targets, 4 yards, 45 yards
Darrius Shepherd: 3 targets, 2 receptions, 21 yards
Malik Taylor: 1 target, 1 reception, 20 yards
Robert Tonyan: 6 targets, 6 receptions, 98 yards, 3 TD
If you picked up Packers’ TE Robert Tonyan on waivers last week, you are looking pretty smart right now. If you started him this week, you are looking even smarter! In the absence of Packers’ top 2 wideouts Davante Adams and Allen Lazard, Tonyan stepped up and delivered an absolutely huge game for Green Bay, and for his fantasy managers. While many believed it would be WR Marquez Valdes-Scantling to benefit most from Adams’ on Monday, Tonyan absolutely stole the show. Even though Tonyan and the Packers are heading into their bye week, it’s still a good idea to try and get him on waivers if he’s available in your league. Though it is worth considering that Tonyan’s production should take a hit when Adams (and eventually Lazard) returns. Given an extra week of rest, there’s no reason not to expect the return of Adams in week 6 against the Buccaneers.
— Corey Saucier (@Deputy_Commish on Twitter, /u/LightsKamaraAction on Reddit)