This week’s Thursday matchup is an obvious mismatch, between the powerful New Orleans Saints and the underachieving Atlanta Falcons, but Thursday can be tricky. The short week often exposes weaknesses, and can produce some surprising results as well. And usually the Thursday contest comes down to whichever team can and does run the ball the best.
In this week’s Thursday Preview, I will break down all the primary offensive position players for each team in a head-to-head format, and you can make the decision whether or not to play them on your fantasy team this week. Some are obvious and others are subtle, but I’ll give you my take on each one. So, welcome to Thursday Preview…
QB – Drew Brees vs. Matt Ryan
Brees to Graham all season long, but Brees won’t really be needed too much in this one. And Graham can rest his foot after the first quarter. Brees is Brees, and he will get his touchdowns (count on at least two from him), but he can lean on the running game on Thursday night. As for Matt Ryan, he has been a mess over the past five games, and there is no reason to believe he will be any better on the short week. The lost season continues for him, but he will muster one touchdown in this game. If you own Brees, you’re playing him, but hopefully if you’re a Ryan owner you’ve gotten someone else from the waiver wire to play this week.
Brees – 25 fantasy points. Ryan – 12 fantasy points.
RB1 – Pierre Thomas vs. Steven Jackson
Atlanta’s defense is just not good this season, and New Orleans actually has a running game of late, which is a bad combination for Atlanta on Thursday night. Add to that the fact that Steven Jackson has looked his age after getting hurt and sitting out quite a few games, and Ryan’s troubles throwing the ball, and that New Orleans defense can just focus on the run. Bad news for Jackson and his owners. If you have other options, please utilize them. Thomas will have a good night, though.
Thomas – 13 fantasy points. Jackson – 4 fantasy points.
Darren Sproles Mark Ingram vs. Jacquizz Rodgers
First off, Rodgers might not even play with his ankle injury, but you can slot in Snelling here as well if you wish. Regardless, don’t you dare play either one of them on Thursday night. Ryan himself has a better chance of scoring a rushing touchdown than either Rodgers or Snelling. As for
Sproles Ingram, though, he can get active in the short passing game with Brees, but still don’t expect too much. Thomas himself has been catching more balls lately. Of course if this game becomes a blowout we may see more of Sproles Ingram. [Sproles has been ruled INACTIVE for the contest. Do not play him!]
Ingram – 3 fantasy points. Rodgers/Snelling – 1 fantasy point.
WR1 – Marques Colston vs. Roddy White
The revival of Colston may be a little exaggerated since Graham is still the number one receiver in New Orleans, and with Kenny Stills coming on strong, there are too many mouths to feed in the Big Easy. Don’t get your hopes up because wide receivers don’t usually do well on the short week and Colston hasn’t had a great season anyway. As for White, he looks to be close to 100% and who else is Ryan going to throw to consistently? New Orleans knows it too, though, so White will get coverage all over him on Thursday night, possibly opening up room for Harry Douglas to have a good game.
Colston – 4 fantasy points. White – 8 fantasy points.
WR2 – Kenny Stills vs. Harry Douglas
Stills has really blossomed of late, picking up the slack for an underperforming Colston, and getting himself in the end zone at a pretty good clip. I think he keeps it going here, if even for just one score on a long pass from Brees. Douglas had a good couple of games as the number one receiver, but he has some value here as the number two guy. When White gets the coverage drawn his way, that can open up Douglas and he may outscore Stills in this one.
Stills – 11 fantasy points. Douglas – 12 fantasy points.
TE – Jimmy Graham vs. Tony Gonzalez
The only thing you have to worry about as a Jimmy Graham owner in this one is that Brees probably won’t need him in order to win the game, and with him still not being 100%, why test him like that if he’s not needed? The Falcons will zero in on him too when he’s in the game, knowing Brees looks for him in the end zone. I think he gets some yardage, but doesn’t score on Thursday night. The same is true for Gonzalez, although he may score the one touchdown Ryan will throw. If he does score the touchdown, though, he won’t have good yardage to go with it. It’s an either/or proposition.
Graham – 10 fantasy points. Gonzalez – 8 fantasy points.
Oh, and obviously avoid the Falcons defense as they don’t get many sacks and they won’t score or force turnovers. The Saints defense, on the other hand, has a good matchup against a turnover prone Matt Ryan, so start them with confidence. They should get you double digits in fantasy points.