The Atlanta Falcons have provided FanDuel and DraftKings players a treasure trove of fantasy football production through the first five weeks of the NFL season. But is quarterback Matt Ryan and the rest of the Falcons’ league-leading offense a viable, or even bankable, buy in daily fantasy football leagues for the rest of the season?
Currently, the simple answer is yes, but it will depend greatly on Atlanta’s matchups for the next 11 games. The Falcons began the year tied with San Francisco for the league’s hardest strength-of-schedule (.555), and through five weeks it’s slipped to a still-difficult .500.
The Falcons also showed in Week 5 that they won’t just sling it against any defense. Facing Denver’s highly rated cornerbacks Chris Harris and Aqib Talib, Ryan went 15-for-28 for a season-low 267 yards and one touchdown for the 17th-best output of any quarterback in Week 5. Receiver Julio Jones made only two catches for 29 yards just seven days removed from his uncanny 300-yard work in Week 4.
Instead, the Falcons’ running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman had their numbers called, with the former tallying 88 yards and a score, and Coleman using his speed against Denver’s linebackers for four catches for 132 yards and a touchdown. Clearly, week-to-week the Falcons will adapt their game-plan and daily fantasy players must analyze the matchups before finalizing lineups.
Atlanta, and in particular offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan, deserves heaps of credit. The Falcons have four offensive players ranked in the top 30 in all of fantasy scoring, while no other team has more than two. It’s a slight improvement for Atlanta as last year Freeman, Jones, and Ryan was each ranked in the top 22 among all fantasy scorers.
Entering Week 6, the Falcons will head to Seattle (No. 1 in total defense), which has gone 1-2 against Ryan throughout his career but allowed only 212.3 passing yards and 2.5 touchdowns per game, a far cry from the prolific 348 yards per game the early MVP candidate has put up so far. Ryan will be a very expensive buy in Week 6 compared to other quarterbacks, and there are better matchups at QB for owners.
The rest of Atlanta’s schedule has some rough patches that may not deter their pursuit of the playoffs, but aren’t exactly great for daily fantasy players either. In Week 7, any of the Falcons top scorers should go off against a banged up Chargers D ranked 24th in total defense, 28th against the pass, and 27th in points allowed.
But Week 8’s matchup with the Packers (4th in total yards allowed, 12th points allowed, 12th vs. the pass) is a massive game that will have serious NFC-playoff implications. Week 9 involves a trip to Tampa Bay for some revenge after Week 1’s letdown, but it’s also an NFC South matchup that could go in any direction even if the Bucs are allowing an opposing passer rating of 106.5 (third-worst in the NFL).
Atlanta then heads to Philadelphia in Week 10, followed by their bye week, then hosts Arizona and Kansas City, followed by a trip to Los Angeles, back home vs. San Francisco, at Carolina, and vs. New Orleans. It’s not an impossible schedule, and Atlanta should be considered the class of the NFC at this point, but for fantasy purposes, things could sour quickly if owners too heavily rely on Ryan and the Falcons.
Having said all that, whether you employ DraftKings, FanDuel, or any other platform, use our daily fantasy football rankings for Week 6 to mine your combinations.
Byes: Minnesota, Tampa Bay
1.Drew Brees, New Orleans Saints
2.Russell Wilson, Seattle Seahawks
3.Brian Hoyer, Chicago Bears
4.Ben Roethlisberger, Pittsburgh Steelers
5.Tyrod Taylor, Buffalo Bills
Bonus: Marcus Mariota, Tennessee Titans
There aren’t a ton of great quarterback matchups this week, but a healthy Brees meets a Panthers D allowing 18.5 points per week, seventh-worst in fantasy. Wilson may still be banged up, which is the only reason he’s listed behind Brees. Otherwise, Wilson faces a porous Falcons secondary that’s allowed 13 passing touchdowns, by far the worst in the NFL. Hoyer’s a monster with three straight 300-yard games and he’s yet to throw an interception. Next up? A Jaguars D surrendering the eight-most points to fantasy QBs.
1.DeMarco Murray, Tennessee Titans
2.LeSean McCoy, Buffalo Bills
3.Lamar Miller, Houston Texans
4.Jamaal Charles, Kansas City Chiefs
5.Christine Michael, Seattle Seahawks
Murray’s become a force that’s allowed Mariota some much-needed space in the pocket, and he’ll next stare down the Browns eighth-worst work against fantasy RBs. McCoy’s a wonder and has greatly benefited from Buffalo firing offensive coordinator Greg Roman. The Bills have won three straight because of Shady and he gets a Browns D allowing 4.3 yards a carry. Miller draws the Colts and their fourth-worst showing against RBs (22.5 points per week), and if Charles is finally healthy he could be a cheaper value buy against a Raiders ranked fifth-worst in fantasy against RBs.
1.Antonio Brown, Pittsburgh Steelers
2.Jordan Matthews, Philadelphia Eagles
3.Cole Beasley, Dallas Cowboys
4.Amari Cooper, Oakland Raiders
5.Julio Jones, Atlanta Falcons
Unlike quarterbacks, receivers have stellar matchups in Week 6. Brown is purely unstoppable and he will be expensive when facing a Dolphins secondary letting up 26.3 points per week to WRs (fourth-worst), but the extra cost is worth the peace of mind. Matthews lines up against a Redskins D that’s just barely better than Miami, giving up 25.8 points a week. Beasley benefits from Dak Prescott’s incredible accuracy and the Packers are surprisingly the second-worst secondary in fantasy (29.7 points per week). Michael Crabtree is getting all the touchdowns, but Cooper’s worth a risk in PPR-formats, especially versus a Chiefs D owning the seventh-worst ranking against WRs. Jones is only here because his price may slip to an affordable and reasonable cost against Seattle but beware nonetheless.
1.Delanie Walker, Tennessee Titans
2.Jimmy Graham, Seattle Seahawks
3.Coby Fleener, New Orleans Saints
4.Jason Witten, Dallas Cowboys
5.Eric Ebron, Detroit Lions
Walker’s a catch machine and healthy, and the Browns woes against tight ends in Week 5 should carry over in Week 6. Graham would be No. 1 if Wilson was healthy, but he’s still a solid play as Atlanta’s the worst in fantasy against TEs, 15.8 points let up per week. Fleener and Brees may torture the Panthers fourth-worst work against tight ends, while Witten leads Dallas with 34 targets and can grab his first touchdown of the season vs. Green Bay.
1.Carlos Hyde, RB, San Francisco 49ers
2.Frank Gore, RB, Indianapolis Colts
3.Richard Rodgers, TE, Green Bay Packers
4.Sammie Coates, WR, Pittsburgh Steelers
5.Jay Ajayi, RB, Miami Dolphins
The Bills defense has improved some, but against RBs they’re allowing 18 points a week, which should be to Hyde’s benefit. Gore should rock a Texans D sorely missing J.J. Watt and that was already poor against the run before he went down. Houston’s only slightly better than Buffalo, allowing 17.5 points a week. Rodgers is risky since he might’ve lost his job if Jared Cook didn’t get hurt, and he’s gotten only 13 targets this season, but Dallas is third-worst against TEs. Coates is a cheap way to buy into Pittsburgh’s red-hot offense, and while Miami’s No. 31 in rushing offense Ajayi can break out as the Steelers are sixth-worst against RBs.
With Minnesota on its bye, Arizona moves to No. 1 because the Jets appear hopeless with Ryan Fitzpatrick under center. Denver, even on only four days’ rest, should rock San Diego and Phillip Rivers. Baltimore has a very intriguing matchup with the Giants, who are tumbling and near implosion, and the Bills may have trouble with Hyde but no one else on the 49ers offense. The Seahawks may seem like a frightening choice, but they won’t be popular this week considering Atlanta’s monster offense and thus could hit big if correct.