It’s getting down to that time of year when fantasy football owners have to make some tough decisions before making one final push toward the playoffs — or better draft positioning for next year.
Luckily for you, we’re here to help with our “Thursday Night Football” start/sit advice for the Atlanta Falcons-Tampa Bay Buccaneers game.
Quarterback: No NFL quarterback arguably has played better this season than Matt Ryan. Ryan leads the league in passing yards and touchdowns, and he’s in the top three in completion percentage and passer rating. He’s coming off a spectacular three-touchdown, 288-yard performance in a comeback win over the Green Bay Packers. So, yes, start him.
Running Back: The Falcons once again will be without Tevin Coleman this week, so definitely don’t start him. But Devonta Freeman should be in your starting lineup. He’s rushed for 543 yards in eight games, and he has five total touchdowns (three rushing).
Wide Receiver: If you need to be told to start Julio Jones, well, then, you’re probably doing fantasy football wrong. He’s really the only reliable fantasy wide receiver on the Falcons, though.
Tight End: Jacob Tamme won’t play, so make sure he’s out of your lineup — although he shouldn’t be there in the first place. That means more opportunities for Austin Hooper, but he’s far from a reliable enough fantasy option to start him this week.
Defense: Atlanta has allowed the fourth-most total yards and points this season. That’s not very good.
Tampa Bay Buccaneers
Quarterback: Unlike Ryan, Jameis Winston isn’t a fantasy no-brainer. He has solid statistics — 1,776 yards, 14 touchdowns — but there certainly are better options out there. However, the Falcons’ defense is atrocious, so this could be a big breakout week for Winston, who threw for 281 yards with four touchdowns in a Week 1 win over Atlanta.
Running Back: The bad news continues for the Bucs at running back. Now Jacquizz Rodgers won’t be available for Week 9, along with Doug Martin and Charles Sims. That means Peyton Barber and Antone Smith likely will get the nod for Tampa Bay against Atlanta. Barber has the better stats of the two this season, so if you’re going to start either player pick him. But it just seems way too risky to start a Bucs running back this week.
Wide Receiver: Mike Evans is a definite must-start if you have him. But only start Adam Humphries or Vincent Jackson if you’re in a bind, since their stats don’t exactly scream out, “Start me!” Oh, and Russell Shepard has been ruled out for this game.
Tight End: Cameron Brate has had some good performances, and if you are a Rob Gronkowski owner, you certainly could do worse than starting Brate this week while the New England Patriots enjoy their bye. But he’s not someone we would recommend starting unless you’re in a bind.
Defense: Tampa Bay is allowing 27 points per game, and now it has to face two potential MVPs in Ryan and Jones. So we would avoid both defenses in this one.
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