Monday Night Football
Atlanta @ Seattle
Team Totals: Seahawks 24, Falcons 21
A top-ten fantasy passer in six of his last seven starts with four top-five finishes among them, Russell Wilson draws another favorable matchup on Monday night against the Falcons, who rank 20th in pass-defense DVOA and have yielded top-12 results to three of their last four signal callers faced. Atlanta has also allowed the NFL’s eighth-most rushing yards to quarterbacks (171), while Wilson ranks third at his position in rushing attempts (51) and second in rushing yards (290). … Washed-up Eddie Lacy‘s (groin) expected return takes Thomas Rawls out of play as a flex option. … The lone playable Seahawks back is J.D. McKissic, who finally cleared the five-touches-per-game barrier in last week’s win at Arizona and will see elevated usage with C.J. Prosise (ankle) on I.R. The Falcons have yielded the NFL’s third-most receptions (58) to running backs. Things are looking up for McKissic in Seattle’s increasingly pass-first attack, and it would not be surprising if he became an every-week PPR flex option down the stretch.
Wilson’s target distribution since the Week 6 bye: Doug Baldwin 40; Jimmy Graham 28; Tyler Lockett 25; Paul Richardson 14; McKissic 12; Rawls 7; Luke Willson 4; Tanner McEvoy 3; Amara Darboh 4; Lacy 2. … Atlanta has played stout slot coverage for most of 2017, but was still burned by Jarvis Landry (8/62/1) and Golden Tate (7/58/1). On pace for career highs in targets (140) and catches (96) in Seattle’s pass-first attack, Baldwin is a player to bet on and not against on a weekly basis. … The Falcons have allowed the NFL’s fourth-fewest fantasy points to tight ends, although they did yield seven catches on seven targets to Jason Witten last week. Graham has topped 55 yards and/or scored a touchdown in seven straight games while leading all tight ends in red-zone targets (15) and the entire league in targets inside the ten (11). … The Richardson-Lockett weekly conundrum is one Richardson has routinely won with a combined 12/250/3 receiving line since Seattle’s bye compared to Lockett’s 13/176/0, despite Lockett having drawn 11 more targets in that span. Richardson has simply been a better, more efficient player. Neither boundary receiver’s Week 11 matchup stands out against sturdy Falcons outside CBs Robert Alford and Desmond Trufant. Atlanta allows the NFL’s eighth-fewest fantasy points to wide receivers.
Matt Ryan travels to Seattle with top-14 fantasy finishes in just 5-of-9 starts to face a Seahawks pass defense that has sprung some injury-caused leaks lately, but still ranks No. 7 in DVOA and gets back difference-maker FS Earl Thomas (hamstring) after a two-week absence. Just 1-of-9 quarterbacks have logged top-12 results against the Seahawks and only 3-of-9 have placed QB16 or higher. As Seattle will be without Richard Sherman (Achilles’) on Monday night and Atlanta’s pass-catcher corps is flush with favorable matchups, I still believe Ryan warrants fringe fantasy-starter consideration. The 2016 NFL MVP has played better in real life than fantasy this season. … The Seahawks’ run defense has returned to dominant form, holding enemy backs to a combined 121/317/2.62/5 rushing line in its last six games. Tevin Coleman will fill in as Atlanta’s feature back in Devonta Freeman’s (concussion) absence, but he is merely a volume-driven RB2 in this brutal spot. Seattle also stymies running backs in the passing game, allowing the NFL’s third-fewest catches (36) and second-fewest receiving yards (244) to the position.
Ryan’s targets in the last four games: Julio Jones 39; Mohamed Sanu 28; Austin Hooper 19; Freeman 11; Taylor Gabriel 10; Justin Hardy 6; Coleman 5. … Despite continued box-score disappointment, Jones is worth sticking with against a Seahawks secondary that just lost Sherman and will either turn to burnable Jeremy Lane or street free agent Byron Maxwell across from rookie RCB Shaq Griffin. Julio isn’t hitting pay dirt, but he does rank ninth among NFL receivers in catches (49) and fifth in yards (715). Natural regression suggests Jones will start scoring more soon. … Sanu draws a Seahawks defense fellow slot man Larry Fitzgerald (10/113/0) shredded last week. Despite Sanu’s slow Week 10 results (3/29/0), he has cleared 65 yards and/or scored a touchdown in five of his last seven games and remains the clear-cut No. 2 option in the Falcons’ passing attack. … Albeit perhaps partly due to Earl Thomas’ absence, Seattle gave up 5/106/0 to Rams tight ends in Week 5, 6/60/1 to Evan Engram in Week 7, 6/72/0 to Vernon Davis in Week 9, and 5/64/1 to Jermaine Gresham last week. Hooper has drawn six-plus targets in five of his last six games. His matchup is improved by SS Kam Chancellor‘s (stinger) expected absence.
Score Prediction: Seahawks 24, Falcons 23
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