Dion Lewis, Mohamed Sanu and More Fantasy Reaction from Falcons vs. Patriots

Alec Nathan@@AlecBNathanFeatured ColumnistOctober 23, 2017

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 22: Dion Lewis #33 of the New England Patriots carries the ball during the second quarter of a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Gillette Stadium on October 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts. (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The New England Patriots coasted past the Atlanta Falcons 23-7 at Gillette Stadium on Sunday night in a rematch of Super Bowl 51 as Tom Brady led the defending champions with 249 yards and a pair of scores through the air.

But at this point, fantasy owners know what they're going to get from the five-time champion.

What wasn't as certain entering Sunday's prime-time tilt was the Patriots' backfield distribution, which ultimately favored the resurgent Dion Lewis and left bruiser Mike Gillislee in the dust.

There was also plenty to analyze from Atlanta's point of view, as the Falcons offense once again failed to connect on the deep shot plays that helped propel the team to an NFC title a year ago.


Dion Lewis Powers the Patriots Backfield

Steven Senne/Associated Press

A week after he logged double-digit carries (11) for the first time this season, Lewis continued to trend in a positive direction, as he tallied 13 carries for a season-high 76 yards as the Patriots' early-down workhorse.

Gillislee, meanwhile, managed eight carries for 31 yards and has now gone five straight games without a touchdown after registering four scores over the first two weeks of the regular season.

Rotoworld's Evan Silva noted the two backs are headed in opposite directions with the second half of the season approaching, while the Boston Globe's Ben Volin pointed to Lewis' usage late in the fourth quarter as a positive sign for his season-long stock:

Evan Silva @evansilva

New season-high 14 touches for Dion Lewis; season-low 8 touches for Mike Gillislee. https://t.co/mLXGfJVhzJ

Ben Volin @BenVolin

Dion Lewis gets the call with the Patriots trying to run out the clock. He has emerged as their most consistent RB

Elsewhere, NFL.com's Matt Harmon was blunt in his assessment of Gillislee's skill set:

Matt Harmon @MattHarmon_BYB

Apparent to everyone with eyes and reason that Dion Lewis is vastly superior to Gilislee in every way.

Not to be overlooked was pass-catching specialist James White, whose role remained intact.

According to Pro Football Focus' Nathan Jahnke, White finished second among Patriots running backs with 23 snaps, as he totaled four carries for 19 yards and five catches for 28 yards and a touchdown:

Nathan Jahnke @PFF_NateJahnke

Patriots final HB snap count: Dion Lewis 26 James White 23 Mike Gillislee 13 Rex Burkhead 13 Out of 74

Jahnke also observed improved push up front helped fuel a rejuvenated rushing attack:

Nathan Jahnke @PFF_NateJahnke

Patriots RBs had 157 total rushing yards on 31 attempts. OL and specially David Andrews played a big part in their success.

Now the proud owner of strong back-to-back efforts, Lewis can be viewed as a low-end RB2 with a hint of upside, while Gillislee is looking more and more like a touchdown-dependent RB4.

White, however, should continue to be viewed as a legitimate flex candidate, especially in PPR formats.


Mohamed Sanu Solid in Return from Hamstring Injury

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 22: Mohamed Sanu #12 of the Atlanta Falcons catches a pass as he is defended by Patrick Chung #23 of the New England Patriots during the fourth quarter of a game against the Atlanta Falcons at Gillette Stadium on October 22, 2017 in
Adam Glanzman/Getty Images

Mohamed Sanu missed the Falcons' Week 6 loss to the Miami Dolphins because of a nagging hamstring issue, but he didn't look limited at all Sunday night.

Although he didn't lead the Falcons in receiving—that honor belonged to Julio Jones (nine catches, 99 yards, TD)—Sanu racked up six receptions for 65 yards on a season-high 10 targets.

Sanu was also on the field for all but six offensive snaps, per Jahnke:

Nathan Jahnke @PFF_NateJahnke

Falcons final WR snap count: Mohamed Sanu 51 Julio Jones 50 Taylor Gabriel 35 Justin Hardy 9 Andre Roberts 4 Out of 57

The 28-year-old is still more of a safety blanket than anything else, but considering he's topped five catches in three of his five appearances this season, there's reason to believe he could be a borderline flex play in PPR leagues with some increased volume.


Matt Ryan's Struggles Continue Against Porous Patriots Secondary

FOXBORO, MA - OCTOBER 22:  Matt Ryan #2 of the Atlanta Falcons throws the ball during the second quarter of a game against the New England Patriots at Gillette Stadium on October 22, 2017 in Foxboro, Massachusetts.  (Photo by Maddie Meyer/Getty Images)
Maddie Meyer/Getty Images

The NFL's reigning MVP is officially bordering on liability status in fantasy circles after he completed 23-of-33 passes for 233 yards and one touchdown Sunday night.

Now six games into the 2017 season, Ryan has one multi-touchdown game (Week 3) and has finished with a yards-per-attempt average of 9.0 or greater twice a season after he led the league with a mark of 9.3.

Furthermore, Ryan hasn't topped 250 yards passing in his past three games and has managed the same number of touchdowns (three) as interceptions during that disappointing stretch.

NFL.com's Michael Fabiano noted the absence of former offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan has likely contributed to Ryan's woes:

Michael Fabiano @Michael_Fabiano

Apparently, the solution to stopping the Falcons high-powered offense from last season is ... Steve Sarkisian.

In Week 8, Ryan and the Falcons will draw the New York Jets—who surrendered 304 yards and four touchdowns to the Miami Dolphins passing tandem of Jay Cutler and Matt Moore in Sunday's 31-28 loss in South Florida.