Fantasy Football Impact: ATL air raid

Coming at you relentless like a Pittsburgh revenge game...

Matt Ryan and Julio Jones combined for a fantasy box score tidal wave Sunday.

Ryan’s 503 yards and Jones’ 300 - second most for a receiver since Calvin Johnson in 2013 against Dallas --- were sublime on Sunday, unless you had to play against either of them.

While Jones was a top 4 or 5 pick in most fantasy drafts, Ryan is another example why waiting to pick a quarterback is usually a winning strategy on draft day. Even before the Panthers game, Ryan was averaging 323 yards through three games. Jones meanwhile, made good after last week’s inexplicable one catch, 16-yard effort against the Saints.

The most surprising Falcons improvement this season has been red zone production this year. Through four games, Ryan already has 11 touchdown passes - or about half of his production from last year when he finished with 21. Total.

Looking ahead: The monstrous passing production not only has to come down because of the law of averages, but also because of the road ahead. This week Atlanta heads to Denver (no. 2 vs. the pass allowing 169 yards per game) and Week 6 at Seattle (No. 4 vs. the pass). Julio stays in the lineup obviously, and while I wouldn’t bench Ryan out of hand, owners have to do their due diligence just by looking at other available QB matchups they can take advantage of either on their bench or on the waiver wire in a streaming situation.

The schedule softens with the Chargers (No. 27), Packers (No, 29), Bucs (No. No. 15) in weeks 7-9. After the bye Atlanta has a good slate the rest of the way with the Cardinals (No. 7)in week 11 as the hardest obstacle, followed by the Chiefs (No. 11), Rams (No. 23)  49ers (No. 13) and Panthers (No. 14) in week 16.

Mr. Consistent Award: While Jordy Nelson is the only receiver to have scored every week (he’s played in) this season, the running back sharing that distinction is Melvin Gordon. While you would like to see more yards now that he has less competition for backfield snaps (RIP Danny Woodhead), it is hard to argue with six rushing scores in four weeks. It would help if the San Diego offensive line was more reliable, however.

Feeling Arizona?

Even before Carson Palmer’s concussion, I wanted out of the Arizona Cardinals business. David Johnson is matchup-proof and finds a way to be productive no matter what, but the offense is looking more and more like a house of cards (no pun - really!). Despite the talent, Arizona is seventh in yards but 14th in scoring.  Michael Floyd is non-existent and John Brown up and down. Palmer has been mostly disappointing. Take away his three-TD pass week 2, and he had three scoring passes week one, three and Sunday, combined. I am not bailing on Palmer yet, but even when healthy, this team has really struggled to click.

Cam's concussion: No need to jump off the deep end. Derek Anderson is obviously a downgrade but a good backup, one that I like eons better than Drew Stanton in a waiver wire pickup pinch. Without knowing the prognosis for either Cam Newton or Palmer’s situation, Anderson has more upside.

Steelers smack-down: Someone had to pay for the Eagles decimation of Pittsburgh last week and that someone happened to be the Chiefs. Le’Veon Bell made a triumphant return, sure, but the fantasy blowout epic-ness of Ben Roethlisberger (300 yards, 5 TDs) staying later in the game than he should have, was a nice - although surely unintended - love letter to fantasy owners.

Pick these guys up:

Steve Smith, Sr.: Ageless. Wonder. He's owned in about half of leagues but be sure that if he's available, he is a must-own. My early season love for Mike Wallace still burns strong, but unfortunately he's taken on more aspects of Torrey Smith besides the deep ball skill -- like being boom or bust and occasionally turning invisible. Smith's production has gone up every week and should not slow down anytime soon.

Hunter Henry: Sure he may have lost the Colts game, but as long as Antonio Gates is out, the rookie has produced with nine catches for 133 yards and a touchdown the last two weeks.

Cameron Brate: If you need a tight end The Bucs' replacement for Austin Sefarian-Jenkins is the choice. The last two weeks since being made the starter, he has 10 catches, 113 yards and two touchdowns.

Terrance West: (Mea culpa) Despite me wanting to avoid the Baltimore running back situation last week, West is easily the most desired free agent this week after his 113-yard performance. Buck Allen had the second most rushing work - with three carries.  West looks like the established No. 1 but rookie Kenneth Dixon is also a possible threat. Last year’s starter Justin Forsett was inactive Sunday and looks done.

Orleans Darkwa: This is more of a panning for gold situation and keep an eye on Paul Perkins, but in deeper leagues keep an eye on him.

One last thing: 

The villain of the week goes to John Kuhn. This was beyond vulture territory - more like dream destroyer. Speaking on behalf of all Mark Ingram owners everywhere, that's not okay Sean Payton. Once was acceptable twice was ridiculous and three? Just plain cruel.

 

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