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NFL Monday Night Football Preview Wk 16: Atlanta Falcons vs. New Orleans Saints

NEW ORLEANS - SEPTEMBER 26:  Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons celebrates after throwing a touchdown pass against the New Orleans Saints at the Louisiana Superdome on September 26, 2010 in New Orleans, Louisiana.  The Falcons defeated the Saints 27-24.  (Photo by Chris Graythen/Getty Images)
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TheFantasyFix.comAnalyst IDecember 27, 2010

I hope everyone had a wonderful Christmas and I also hope you are still in the championship hunt with two games to play.  

Monday night's Falcons vs. Saints game promises to be explosive, with plenty of fantasy stars on display.  With a win, the Falcons take the division and home field advantage, but don't forget about the defending champs who are quietly putting together a very strong defense of last year's Super Bowl victory.

Drew Brees and Matt Ryan are the fifth and sixth ranked fantasy QB's, respectively. Tonight's game will be a true test for Matt Ryan as he's been nails at home, but the Saints give up the 3rd fewest points to opposing QB's and are ranked first against wide receivers.  

You are starting a fourth ranked Roddy White at receiver, even if he is a little banged up, but he will be tested throughout the game by that Saints secondary.  

The best bet for the Falcons is to stick to the ground, with Michael Turner as the Saints are only 19th against the run.  

Despite the Saints stingy passing defense, the Falcons handled it last time and they are even better when playing at home.  In fact, in their first meeting all the Falcons usual suspects had great games; Michael Turner, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez all scored. Plus, Matt Ryan threw a couple of touchdown passes.  In the championship week, you don't mess around, so you are playing all these guys and hoping for a repeat performance.

The Saints' road to fantasy stats is not as daunting. The Falcons do not have the same defensive chops as the Saints.  Drew Brees had a great game the first time around with 365 yards and three touchdowns and you can expect much the same tonight.  

As for the running game, it is really anyone's guess.  Chris Ivory filled in admirably while Reggie Bush and Pierre Thomas were nursing injuries, but now he is banged up.  There really is no telling how carries will be split if, and I do mean if, everyone is healthy. Considering we don't know the relative health of the three running backs, it's best to stay away.  

I expect good games from Marques Colston and Lance Moore, as both receive a ton of red zone targets (third and fifth in the league, respectively).    

This game will serve as a true test of the Falcons. Are they a paper champion or can they close out an excellent team in December?  We'll see tonight.

 

Written by Chris Summers exclusively for thefantasyfix.com.  

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