Last week was really crazy for fantasy football owners still in the playoffs. Many players who have performed well all season (and probably the reason you are in the playoffs) underperformed and some unexpected faces stepped up big. If you were lucky enough to survive the chaos, (which I certainly wasn’t) this Saturday night’s matchup between the Atlanta Falcons and Detroit Lions might very well have the biggest fantasy impact of Week 16.
Both teams have very similar, middle of the road defenses with nearly identical numbers in every major statistical category with the exception of touchdowns allowed; which Detroit is tied for fifth most in the league with 43 allowed this season while Atlanta has only given up 28 (ranked 28th). The Lions are also allowing about a touchdown more per game at 27 points per, compared to the Falcons’ 18.5. This game looks to be a big offensive battle so let’s breakdown the matchups by position.
Matt Ryan had an awesome day last week on the road against the New York Giants, throwing for 170 yards and three touchdowns. Ryan will benefit from playing in a dome this week and has too many receiving targets for Detroit to properly cover. He’s going to have another big day.
Matthew Stafford had a very rough outing last week against the Arizona Cardinals, throwing three interceptions and no touchdowns; with a measly (for him) 246 passing yards. Unfortunately for Stafford, injuries have plagued the Lions’ receiving corps and he is left with very few options. Look for Stafford to have another tough day, despite playing at home.
Projections: Ryan 22 points, Stafford 14 points.
it’s pretty apparent by this point that both teams have a pass-heavy offense, and don’t rely too heavily on their run game.
Michael Turner has been a pretty big letdown for fantasy owners this season, averaging just 10 fantasy points per game. He’s had a very rough year, being held under 50 rushing yards six times and has only eclipsed 100 yards in a game twice.
Atlanta’s other main running back, Jacquizz Rodgers hasn’t been very effective on the ground, but has played a decent part in the passing game; racking up 341 receiving yards (good for 8th best amongst running backs) and one touchdown.
Mikel Leshoure has come on pretty strong since his huge three touchdown performance at Jacksonville on Week 10, and has scored a touchdown in four of his last five games.
Joique Bell, Detroit’s version of Rodgers; has been a valuable asset in the passing game all season, gathering 393 total receiving yards (fourth best) along with his 398 rushing yards. With so many receivers out with injuries, Bell should play a big part in the Lions’ passing game.
Projections: Leshoure 14 points, Turner 10 points, Bell 7 points and Rodgers 4 points.
Julio Jones had a big day last week against the Giants, racking up 74 yards on six receptions for two touchdowns; good for 21 fantasy points. Jones has had a hard time staying consistent in his sophomore season though, frequently bouncing between single and double digit fantasy point games.
Roddy White has had a similar season to Jones from a fantasy perspective. He had a very quiet two catches for 16 yards last week and only had 2 fantasy points.
Calvin Johnson, for the most part, has been held out of the end zone all season. He only has five touchdowns, yet he’s still been able to rack up 1,667 receiver yards (ranked first) and is only 182 yards short of breaking Jerry Rice’s NFL record for receiving yards in a season. With Detroit’s injury-depleted offense, Atlanta is sure to double-team Megatron for the entire game; but he still should be able break, or come very close to breaking, the record this weekend.
Projections: Johnson 16 points, White 14 points and Jones 12 points.
Tony Gonzalez is arguably the greatest tight end over, and a sure fire future Hall of Famer. He’s ranked second amongst tight ends in receiving yards (880) and touchdowns (eight) this season and is the best fantasy tight end with 136 total points.
With Brandon Pettigrew most likely out with an ankle injury, Tony Scheffler will likely be a frequent target for Stafford.
Projections: Gonzalez 11 points, Scheffler 8 points.
This is going to be a great game, and like I said earlier: it will likely have the biggest fantasy impact this weekend. Atlanta definitely has the upper hand here, though. They simply have too many weapons on offense and Detroit is too depleted by injury.