Game Overview ::
- Atlanta has a very clear yet maddening identity – run the football from heavy sets and see what happens.
- It seems borderline silly to say, but this contest looks like a battle of the defensive coordinators between Lou Anarumo and Dean Pees.
- Wide range of potential outcomes as far as game environment and flow go, with volume unlikely to fully condense on either side.
- About as unexciting a game can be expected for a game with a total of 47.5 points.
- Basically, can Ja’Marr Chase break the game open? If not, muted upside.
How Atlanta Will Try To Win ::
One look at the Falcons team metrics paints an immediate picture of how they are trying to win games this season. Their slow pace of play (29th-ranked first half pace of play and 25th-ranked situation-neutral pace of play), heavy rush rates (second most rush plays per game at 33.7 and second lowest pass rate over expectation), and wildly high heavy personnel rates (21- and 12-personnel) tell us most of what we need to know . . . Arthur Smith wants to run the damn ball. For better or for worse, it seems to be working out from a real-world football perspective to the maddening dissatisfaction of fantasy managers. Atlanta currently finds themselves tied atop the NFC South with the Buccaneers with a record of 3-3 and a positive 10-point scoring differential through six weeks. With that, however, electric tight end Kyle Pitts hasn’t played over a 67% snap rate since Week 2 and standout rookie wide receiver Drake London hasn’t played over a 67% snap rate since Week 4, and that’s with starting running back Cordarrelle Patterson on IR and out of the lineup over the past two weeks. Their 3-4 “Jack” base defense doesn’t stand out on paper other than being a low blitz rate, Dean Pees-led unit that plays man coverage at an above-average rate. Basically, the identity of this team is to do the little things right on the football field to not beat themselves.
The absence of Cordarrelle Patterson has left this backfield in a clear 1A/2A/2B timeshare with heavy fullback utilization, led by rookie running back Tyler Allgeier and his 4.4 yards per carry, two-down grinder profile. Avery Williams, a former walk-on cornerback at Boise State turned NFL running back, and Caleb Huntley, a 5-10, 229 pound between the tackles bruiser, mixes in behind Allgeier for a team that is going to continue running the football if it is working. The matchup on the ground yields a well above average 4.66 net-adjusted line yards metric against a Bengals defense largely holding opposing backfields in check to the tune of a 4.25 yards per running back carry allowed and only 18.6 fantasy points per game allowed to the position. Most notably, “Falcons running backs” have exactly one game all season with more than 17 running back opportunities, which came through starter Cordarrelle Patterson way back in Week 1. Since then, they have spread the ball enough to remove all fantasy consideration for all members. Finally, the Falcons have fed their backfield only 16 targets all season, which ranks last in the NFL.
Things don’t get any rosier for the pass game, at least not from a fantasy perspective. Rookie wide receiver Drake London carries elite (like, 37.1% targets per route run and 33.1% team target market share elite, which rank first and second in the NFL, respectively) underlying metrics through the first six games of his NFL career but his offense attempts only 22.8 pass attempts per game, which ranks 31st in the league ahead of only the Bears. Dynamic tight end Kyle Pitts has just 25 targets through five healthy games. Yeah, the weekly floor does not exist here. Olamide Zaccheaus is technically the starting wide receiver opposite London but he has seen just 18 total targets through six games. Khadarel Hodge, Bryan Edwards, and Damiere Byrd fight for the scraps behind London and Zaccheaus, with blocking tight end Parker Hasse seeing the field more than Kyle Pitts. Woof.