In a fairly bland Week 2 the best matchup of the week will be saved for last. The Atlanta Falcons, fresh off a 40-24 beatdown of the Kansas City Chiefs, host the Denver Broncos, who played very well in a 31-19 defeat of Pittsburgh. Even with two respectable defenses the scoreboard operator will be busy Monday night in a battle of two offenses that will use the no-huddle often and efficiently.
Both teams will be throwing the ball a lot, as their respective running games are nowhere near as dominant or game-breaking as their passing games are. Matt Ryan’s a must-start, and while he probably won’t match last week’s numbers he should finish the week as a top 10 quarterback. Ben Roethlisberger threw the ball 40 times last week against Denver, which was the sixth most of any quarterback in Week 1. If Ryan gets that many chances he could match last week’s stats, but either way he should be good for 250-300 yards and at least two touchdowns.
If you drafted Michael Turner - Why would you do that!? - you’re probably stuck starting him. Turner only gained 32 yards on 11 carries last week, which means in his last eight games he’s only gained more than four yards a carry once. He’s a non-factor in the passing game, which means if Atlanta falls behind he’ll be even more of a non-factor in all aspects of the game. He’s going to rely solely on touchdowns this season to boost his fantasy value. He had five red zone carries against the Chiefs, but failed to score. If you’ve got any other solid option, bench Turner. Jacquizz Rodgers suits Atlanta’s offense better, but for now he isn’t starting material for your team.
The same can’t be said for Atlanta’s passing game. Julio Jones was the second highest fantasy scoring wide receiver last week, posting six catches for 108 yards and two touchdowns. Expect another big game from him. Roddy White didn’t score last week but still caught six passes for 87 yards. Another line like that and/or a touchdown is in the cards this week. Tony Gonzalez was the fifth best tight end last week, catching five passes for 53 yards and a touchdown. Gonzalez’s touchdown came after Matt Ryan overthrew a wide open Jones in the end zone. So while Gonzalez takes a backseat to Jones and White between the 20’s and in the red zone, he’s still a must-start.
Peyton Manning should have another good game this week. Atlanta lost its best cornerback, Brent Grimes, last week, and that means Manning will be seeing a lot of either a nickel back playing regularly or an extra linebacker in coverage; both are scenarios Manning can easily exploit. The only quarterbacks left to play this week that I’d start over Manning are Brady, Brees, Stafford, Newton and Ryan.
Willis McGahee ran 16 of the 27 run plays Denver had last week, and will again be the feature back in a better matchup than what he faced against Pittsburgh. McGahee only scored six fantasy points last week, as he was held out of the end zone, but he should score more than that this week. He’s the only Denver running back you want starting for your team.
Just like Atlanta, Denver has two receivers and a tight end I’d feel comfortable starting. Demaryius Thomas had a great opener, catching five passes for 110 yards, including a 71-yard touchdown. With Grimes out, Thomas should post big stats again. Eric Decker caught five passes on seven targets for 54 yards last week, both solid numbers for a WR3. He should see more targets and more yards this week. Jacob Tamme proved to be Manning’s favorite tight end target last week, out-targeting Joel Dreeseen five to two. Tamme’s a low-end TE1 for 10- to 14-team leagues. I’d start him over Colby Fleener or Owen Daniels, but not Kyle Rudolph.
Neither team’s defense is start-worthy this week. I expect a lot of scoring in this game, and with Ryan and Manning at quarterback the mistakes should be at a minimum. Cincinnati (vs. Cleveland), New England (vs. Arizona) and Oakland (vs. Miami) should score more points on defense this week than either Denver or Atlanta.
Written by Andrew Miller exclusively for TheFantasyFix.com.
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Unless otherwise noted, the following lineup and roster advice assumes a standard 10- or 12-team league with roster spots as 1 QB/2 RB/2 WR/1 RB/WR/1 TE. If I don’t mention a player it means I feel he isn’t worthy of starting in any league except the deepest of the deepest leagues. For advice regarding deeper leagues feel free to ask me on Twitter @44AMiller.