The cracks are starting to show with the Atlanta Falcons. They'll hide behind 'We didn’t have Julio and Sanu', and there is some logic to that but this team has been flirting with disaster all year…and it's slowly starting to show. The 3-1 Falcons are very lucky not to be 1-3. In two weeks, two really bad teams could be playing a prime time SNF game – the Falcons v. Patriots Super Bowl rematch.
The Falcons schedule ahead, plus the lucky 3-1 start is likely going to push them to a 9+ win season…but it's not a given. I think the door is opening up for the New Orleans Saints to win the NFC South now. Atlanta and New Orleans play in Weeks 14 and 16.
Buffalo won this game the way they have won all their games this year – a relentless, smart defense and a safe offense. I don’t know how Stone Cold Sean McDermott could be doing this well if Rex Ryan couldn't? How could he succeed without Sammy Watkins? So far so good. If the Bills win at Cincy this week and move to 4-1…they have a chance to run to 7-1 in the first half of the season given their schedule. They need to get to 10 wins to pressure the Patriots for the AFC East and stay in the wild card hunt if needed.
How do my over/under season win total bets on the over for the Bills, Rams, Jags, and Bears look now? Not too shabby…if I could just get the Bears going, but Mitchell is here, we're good.
Fantasy Player Notes…
-- Matt Ryan (24-42 for 242 yards, 1 TD/2 INTs) is regressing back to his 'mean'…'mean'ing a not QB1. Matthew Ice has thrown for 4 TDs/5 INTs this season. TD passes in games this season of 1-2-1-1.
2016 was stellar (and built with a lot of schedule fortune). His 2015 was not good at all. His 2017 looks more like 2015…where he had 21 TD passes and 16 INTs.
Julio Jones going into hibernation, missing Kyle Shanahan, a 1st-place team's schedule…the 'real' Matt Ryan is back bay-bay.
The 'real' Matt Ryan affects everyone down the chain. And the O-C hasn’t impressed me a bit. Julio will get his targets and everyone else can starve to death – that's Ryan's normal pattern to WRs and TEs when he's uncomfortable.
-- When it comes to RBs, Atlanta utilizes two/both main guys whether Ryan is working or not.
I swear, I think the new Atlanta O-C wants to push Tevin Coleman (9-79-0, 4-65-0/6). Coleman is so much better than Devonta Freeman (18-58-1, 2-20-0/2) I can hardly put it into words.
When big plays were needed – it was Coleman making them in this game.
Diving catches – Tevin was your guy.
4th & 1 in the red zone with seconds remaining in the game, down by six points…it was Coleman lined up in the backfield.
Coleman may still be second fiddle for carries but he is THE MAN as a receiver…and his touches and output are growing…
Weeks 1-2: 7.0 carries, 29.0 yards, 3.0 rec., 22.5 rec. yards, 51.5 total yards
Weeks 3-4: 7.5 carries, 62.5 yards, 3.5 rec., 54.0 rec. yards, 116.5 total yards
-- LeSean McCoy (20-76-0, 3-32-0/3) is on a serious scoring drought…68 carries, 21 receptions…no TDs in 2017.
He's also not performing well as a rusher, in general, the last three weeks – 46 carries for 106 yards…2.3 ypc.
He has faced tougher defenses in that stretch – CAR-DEN-ATL. Denver is the #1 rushing defense season-to-date and Carolina #8, Atlanta #12. He faces #17 Cincy this week, and then after a Week 6 BYE has current #5 run defense Tampa Bay.
You just have to grin and bear it at this point. He's not necessarily a buy low or sell off candidate – just hold.
-- Julio Jones and Mohammed Sanu are both lost in this game the Taylor Gabriel (0-0-0/5), arguably the team's best WR weapon (he did lead the WRs in TDs last year) then gets five targets and no catches in their absence…just Ryan sailing a bunch of deep passes way over his head.
Steve Sarkesian…you couldn’t figure out a bubble screen or handoff to Gabriel? The guy just scored a long TD off a bubble screen last week. This week…we don’t want to do that again, they might be planning for it? Nice loss, Falcons. Great decoy work Steve.
I'm done with Gabriel until the next long bubble screen TD sucks me back in.
-- Before we get too Charles Clay (5-112-0/7) happy, let's remember – 52-23-39 for yards in games before this outburst. He's definitely a solid TE and a key target but with Jordan Matthews out and people getting wise to Clay's targeting – he's easy to cover in this offense. It's going to be a rocky ride with Clay in a low-output passing game. You could do worse for a fantasy TE.
You could do better.
He's probably a TE1 all year…because someone has to be.
-- With Jordan Matthews out, there is no real 'bump' for Zay Jones (1-18-0/5) or anyone else here…outside of maybe a TD in a game. JMatt was barely targeted this season…and he is/was their top WR.
Zay Jones and Tyrod Taylor are not on the same page at all…Tyrod is constantly misfiring him to Zay, when Zay is wide open downfield often.
Zay YTD: 4 catches on 15 targets…if you needed more evidence of what I'm saying.
-- Falcons DT IDP Grady Jarrett (7 tackles, 2.0 TFLs) has been on fire the last two games – 5.5 tackles and 2.0 TFLs per game after nothing the first two weeks. There are times when Jarrett looks like a Pro Bowl DT.
-- Rookie IDP CB Demontae Kazee (8 tackles, 1 FF) got extended playing time in this game and made the most of it…2 tackles his first three games and an 8 tackle effort here. Kazee is a scrapper…a guy people downgrade due to measurables and then love the way he plays – and his effort usually overshadows his measurables.
-- The Bills DST has moved from cute sleeper we pushed last week to the one everyone is jumping on off waivers this week. 1 TD pass allowed and 6 INTs on the season. #1 in PPG allowed. The answer to the question of who was responsible for the Carolina Super Bowl run…it might be 'Sean McDermott'.
Week 5: @ Cincy is a good matchup
Week 6: BYE
Week 7-8-9: TB-OAK-NYJ are nice matchups, especially if Derek Carr is still out.
It gets dicey in Weeks 10-14…Brees, Rivers, Smith, Brady, Luck.
Snap Counts of Interest…
60 = Gabriel (leads all ATL WRs and got NO catches, unreal)
31 = Sanu
28 = Nick Williams
15 = Julio
49 = Freeman
27 = Coleman
60 = Kazee (100%)
43 = Jarrett (72%)
24 = Takk McKinley