With Week 3 of the NFL season fast approaching, it is once again time for the Bruno Boys to pick a Game of the Week, with a fantasy football twist. Each week we will choose one NFL game that we feel will have a large amount of impact on the fantasy football world.
This week we will head to Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, Mass, where the New England Patriots will host the Atlanta Falcons. Both of these teams were thought of as possible representatives for their conferences in the Super Bowl. After two weeks of NFL action, the Falcons have posted a 2-0 record while the Patriots are sitting at 1-1. Each team possesses an explosive offense and this game should feature a significant fantasy football impact.
The Falcons head into New England led by second-year quarterback Matt Ryan. He has been impressive on the young season, passing for 449 yards with five touchdowns and just one interception. He will go against a Patriots defense that is not allowing a ton of passing yards, but they have given up three touchdowns without an interception in their first two games against the Buffalo Bills and New York Jets. Ryan is ranked as the Bruno Boys No. 4 quarterback this week.
The Patriots are of course led by Tom Brady, who is arguably the best NFL quarterback this decade. Coming off major knee surgery just a year ago, Brady has looked shaky at times this season. He had a slow start Week One versus the Bills, but finished the game strong leading the Patriots to a fourth-quarter comeback victory.
He had 378 yards passing with three touchdowns and one interception against Buffalo. Week Two was a different story, as he passed for 216 yards without a touchdown and had one ball intercepted in a shocking loss to the New York Jets. Brady admitted that he is working through some issues with his mechanics, but we look for him to bounce back this week with a good game. He is our No. 5-ranked quarterback this week. Both quarterbacks are must-start QB1’s this week.
From a fantasy football standpoint, the Falcons have a significant advantage at running back. Atlanta will look to control the tempo of the game with a heavy dose of Michael Turner running the ball. Turner has 50 carries in two games for 170 total yards with one touchdown. He is a workhorse who seems to get better the more carries he gets.
The Patriots are giving up 103.5 yards rushing per game, but have not given up a rushing touchdown. Turner is the Bruno Boys No. 3 ranked running back this week and a must-start on a weekly basis.
The Patriots use more of a running-back-by-committee (RBBC) approach. Fred Taylor, Laurence Maroney, Sammy Morris and Kevin Faulk and could see carries. None of the four are recommended starting fantasy options this week. If you are desperate at running back, Taylor has 71 rushing yards and a touchdown on the season, but he is our No. 45-ranked running back this week; surely you can find a better option.
If the Patriots are going to win this game, it is going to hinge on Tom Brady and the passing game. Fortunately, he has some nice options to work with in the passing game. First and foremost is his home run threat Randy Moss. In 2007, the two connected for 1,493 yards and 23 touchdowns. Through two games Moss has 16 receptions for 165 yards, but he has not yet found paydirt. Moss is the Bruno Boys No. 5-ranked wide receiver this week, and a weekly must-start WR1.
The Patriots also have a very nice possession receiver in Wes Welker. Welker has 223 receptions over the past two seasons and—when healthy—he is a very good WR2. The problem right now is he is not healthy. He missed Week Two with a knee injury and is currently questionable this week. If Welker is active for this game, consider him a WR3 due to the concerns of the knee injury.
The Falcons also have a very nice option at wide receiver in Roddy White. White has had a nice start to the season, with 11 receptions for 95 yards with a touchdown. He is our No. 11-ranked wide receiver this week and should be used as a low-end WR1.
During the offseason, the Falcons traded for Tony Gonzalez, who is the all-time statistical leader among tight ends in NFL history. He has paid dividends through the first two weeks of the season. Gonzalez has 12 receptions for 144 yards with two touchdowns through the first two games. He has been a very consistent source of fantasy football points, scoring 13 points in each game—he is a must-start each and every week.
Patriots tight end Benjamin Watson has been up and down through two games. He had six receptions for 77 yards with two touchdowns during Week One, but followed that up with three receptions for 23 yards last week. Consider him a TE2 until he can prove to be more consistent.
This game features two of the best kickers in the game. Both New England’s Stephen Gostkowski and Atlanta’s Jason Elam are recommended starting fantasy kicking options on a weekly basis.
In a game that should put up a good number of points, neither of these teams D/ST units should be used as starting options this week. If you are desperate, the Patriots have more upside, but they will likely give up a lot of yards and points this week.