As Peter King put it so eloquently, tonight’s Ravens-Falcons throwdown marks the first Thursday night NFL game of the season (not including the Vikings-Saints opener).
Why wouldn’t the first one count? It was played on a Thursday night, no?
In a fantasy bind? Maybe you forgot there was a game tonight.
Better set your Ravens and Falcons players in a hurry.
Joe Flacco (Baltimore Ravens) vs. Matt Ryan (Atlanta Falcons)
Flacco is typically teetering on the brink of QB1 and QB2.
He has plenty of weapons to put up some very solid numbers, but isn’t able to deliver on a particularly consistent basis.
Ryan has seen his ups-and-downs this season, but with a guy as explosive as Roddy White out there, there’s always some serious potential here.
In the end though, I’m going to go with the more favorable matchup, which means I’d go with Flacco.
The Falcons will pick off some passes, but in terms of yardage, they rank just 26th out of 32 teams.
Baltimore’s pass defense may have its hands full with White, but they rank ninth themselves.
I’d feel comfortable starting Flacco over Ryan as my QB1 this week.
Ray Rice (Ravens) vs. Michael Turner (Falcons)
In most drafts, Ray Rice was likely a top-four pick.
You may be disappointed with his two rushing touchdowns on the season, but remember: he only had seven all of last year, so it’s not like we were expecting him to lead the league in that department.
Still, though, Rice’s yardage totals haven’t consistently been there this season, and it can’t help that Willis McGahee is now seeing a decent slice of the touches near the goal line.
Turner, after a fairly slow start, has really come on of late, and has scored two touchdowns in each of his last two games, and has run for over 100 in three of the last four.
Each defense here is ranked in the top-half of the league against the run, but the Falcons are actually better.
When you factor in Turner’s punch near the goal line, this one is a no-brainer to me.
Start Turner over Rice, but really, if you have both guys, you should probably be starting them both.
Willis McGahee (Ravens) vs. Jason Snelling (Falcons)
Snelling had an enormous Week 2 after Michael Turner was injured, but his time on the field has diminished each and every week.
With Turner having caught fire, Snelling’s fantasy value for now is pretty much shot.
McGahee has scored in two straight games, and, as mentioned above, gets his opportunities in close to the end zone.
Easy call here, if you have to start one, you go with McGahee.
Anquan Boldin (Ravens) vs. Roddy White (Falcons)
Boldin was very quiet last week against Miami, catching just two passes for 28 yards.
For the most part, though, he’s been very, very solid.
Roddy White is on another level, though, and has caught at least four passes for no fewer than 49 yards in any of the eight games to this point.
He’s a WR1 every week, and I see no reason for that not to continue Thursday night against the relatively young Ravens' secondary.
You’ll be doing well if you start Boldin against the Falcons, but if you have to pick just one, go with White.
Derrick Mason/TJ Houshmandzadeh (Ravens) vs. Michael Jenkins (Falcons)
Derrick Mason may be 92 years old, but he just keeps chugging along.
While he’s got just two touchdowns on the season, the catches are there, making him a pretty solid PPR guy.
Houshmandzadeh, despite what we’ve seen from him in the past, has been a fantasy no-show this season.
Jenkins missed some time with an injury for Atlanta, and he’s connected with Matt Ryan on a few deep balls since his return four weeks ago.
Still, though, his value is extremely limited.
Mason is easily the guy here.
Todd Heap (Ravens) vs. Tony Gonzalez (Falcons)
Gonzalez just keeps on producing, and there’s only one fantasy tight end with more red zone targets this season and that would be Antonio Gates.
Without a big-time receiving threat opposite White, the Falcons look to Gonzalez early and often for production.
Heap is much less involved in what the Ravens are doing offensively, and he’s only caught more than four passes in a game once this season.
He could find the end zone, but this is an easy call.
Gonzalez over Heap.
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