Matt vs MIN

Falcons Fantasy Outlook—Week 13 vs. Vikings

by Evan Birchfield

Hello, and welcome back Rise Up Readers! I’m back for a Week 13 outlook on the Atlanta Falcons. Before we dive into the upcoming game against the Minnesota Vikings, I want to touch on last week’s victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.

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We can’t start the review without talking about the elephant in the room, Julio Jones. It seems like every now and then, Julio has one of these outrageous performances that puts the national spotlight back on him.

I mentioned last week that “Luckily for Julio and the rest of the Falcons receivers, Tampa Bay has given up the MOST fantasy points to wide receivers this season”. There was no way to predict a 53.8 point performance, but the signs were there for Julio to have a good game.

Amazingly, the 253-yard performance was somehow only the third most of Jones’ career. Below is a review of my predictions and the actual outcome of the game against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers:

  • QB Matt Ryan – Prediction: 29.4, Actual: 21.78
  • RB Tevin Coleman – Prediction: 18.8, Actual: 21.7
  • RB Terron Ward – Prediction: 6.5, Actual: 2.2
  • WR Julio Jones – Prediction: 26.5, Actual: 53.8
  • WR Mohamed Sanu – Prediction: 16.8, Actual: 22.44
  • WR Taylor Gabriel – Prediction: 7.7, Actual: 4.6
  • TE Austin Hooper – Prediction: 8.7, Actual: 6.8
  • TE Levine Toilolo – Prediction: 2.8, Actual: 0.0
  • K Matt Bryant – Prediction: 14.0, Actual: 11.0
  • Defense – Prediction: 13.0, Actual: 3.0

Now, let’s get into the outlook for the Falcons this week against the Vikings.

Quarterback

Matt Ryan had another performance of 20 or more points this past weekend, which he has done in five of the last six games. This weekend Ryan will face the Minnesota Vikings, who have given up the 7th fewest fantasy points to opposing QB’s this season.

Ryan has yet to throw for more than two touchdowns in a game this year, after nine such games in 2016, including the playoffs. It’s possible he could struggle this week against the Vikings’ defense that’s allowed only 12 passing touchdowns this season. Considering in most fantasy leagues, this is the final week before the playoffs begin, so you’re likely staring Ryan no matter what.

Prediction:

  • QB Matt Ryan – 19.8 points

Running back

Last week, the Falcons were without starting RB Devonta Freeman. Freeman is now back from a concussion and will be ready to go on Sunday. While Freeman was out, Tevin Coleman has done a great job filling in.

Since taking over for Freeman three weeks ago, Coleman has a total of 223 yards and four touchdowns on 59 carries. Coleman’s fantasy production has been great as well, as he hasn’t dropped below 12 points since taking over the load of the carries.

Despite Freeman’s return, Coleman still has fantasy value, though it will naturally decline. This week will be a true test for both Falcons running backs, as the Vikings’ defense has giving up the fewest fantasy points to opposing running backs this season. If you have Freeman, you’re starting him. If you have only Coleman, I’d consider him a flex option at best.

Prediction:

  • RB Devonta Freeman – 13.7 points
  • RB Tevin Coleman – 9.6 points
  • RB Terron Ward – 0.0 points

Wide Receiver

Coming off an incredible fantasy day by Julio Jones, the Falcons will face a tough matchup against Minnesota. Julio will likely be shadowed by Vikings’ CB Xavier Rhodes. Regardless of who is lined up in front of Julio, you’re starting him.

I obviously don’t expect a repeat performance of last weekend, but Julio could still have a good day as the Vikings have given up the 14th most fantasy points to WRs this season.

I’m predicting a breakout game by Mohamed Sanu this weekend. Sanu had a solid day last week, bringing in a season high eight catches and throwing a 51-yard touchdown. Don’t be shocked if Sanu gets in the end zone against the Vikings.

Prediction:

  • WR Julio Jones – 16.8 points
  • WR Mohamed Sanu – 21.9 points
  • WR Taylor Gabriel – 6.2 points
  • WR Justin Hardy – 4.8 points

Tight End

Austin Hooper has been a letdown in the past two weeks. There are already only a handful of reliable tight ends in the NFL, and it seemed Hooper could possibly enter that club. Right now, I’d only start Hooper if you have no other options.

He is the type of fantasy player who could go off for 80 yards and touchdown, and it wouldn’t shock me. Also, he could haul in two catches for 15 yards, and I wouldn’t be shocked. Facing a stingy Vikings’ defense that has given up the 8th fewest fantasy points to tight ends this season, be cautious with Hooper.

Prediction:

  • TE Austin Hooper – 6.9 points
  • TE Levine Toilolo – 1.3 points

Kicker

With three straight weeks of scoring exactly 11.0 fantasy points per game, Matt “Money” Bryant is a must start. He’s just reliable to put it simply, only scoring below 7.0 points twice this season. I expect Bryant to get his share of kicks this weekend, if the Falcons’ offense can’t put points on the board.

Prediction:

  • K Matt Bryant – 10.0 points

Defense

The Falcons’ defense is arguably the toughest to predict. Coming off one of their worst fantasy performances of the season, they’ll face a Vikings offense 3rd in fantasy points. If there was a game this season that I’d bench the Falcons defense (aside from playing the Saints), this is it.

The Falcons’ defense has only held opponents to under 17 points once this season. I don’t see them stopping the Vikings who have scored more than 20 points per game in the last seven games.

Prediction:

  • Falcons Def – 3.0 points

The Falcons-Vikings game this weekend should be a good one. To me, it feels like a playoff game. Seeing that next Thursday we play the division rival New Orleans Saints, we need to win this one.

On a more personal note for me, the reason I became a Falcons fan was watching the Falcons vs. Vikings. In 1996, (I was 6 years old) my father (a lifelong Minnesota Vikings fan) took me to my first NFL game. We drove down to Atlanta from our home in Western North Carolina to see the Vikings vs. Falcons on September 8, 1996.

At the time, I didn’t have a favorite team, as I was still learning the sport. He thought maybe I’d follow in his footsteps and become a Vikings fan. The plan ultimately backfired, but I owe my lifelong Falcons fandom to my dad.

Evan and his dad

As always, if you’d like to discuss fantasy football, the Atlanta Falcons, or anything that comes to mind, you can find me on Twitter at @EvanBirchfield. Have a safe weekend everyone, and good luck in your fantasy match-ups.

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