, Salem, MA

October 6, 2012

Fantasy Forecast: Falcons passing game should be flying high tomorrow

By Andy Silva Staff writer
The Salem News

---- — If you thought last week’s performance by the Atlanta Falcons was good, this week could be even better.

One week after quarterback Matt Ryan threw for 369 yards and 3 touchdowns against the Panthers, the Falcons will travel to the nation’s capital to face the Washington Redskins and their 31st-ranked pass defense.

The Redskins are yielding 326 yards through the air per game this season, and the Falcons certainly seemed to be in the groove last week. Ryan has been great so far and I see no reason for that to change this week.

Atlanta wideout Julio Jones struggled last week and has really struggled since a 108-yard, 2-touchdown performance in Week 1. But if there was ever a week for him to bust out of his funk, this would be it. If someone in your league is fretting about Jones’ performance, feel free to swoop in and buy moderately low on the former sixth overall pick.

Even with Roddy White tearing it up this season, Jones should still be a very strong fantasy wide receiver for the rest of the season. I believe this slow stretch is just an aberration. So fret not if you own Jones — and perhaps inquire to see if he is available in your league.

With Hakeem Nicks out this week against the Browns, Giants receiver Domenik Hixon has been the most added player this week in Yahoo! leagues. He caught six passes for 114 yards last week against Philadelphia and is facing a Browns defense ranked 28th against the pass. Hicks should see plenty of targets again this week and could be a serviceable option at WR if you have guys on byes. I still don’t think he’s a world beater, but he’s worth some consideration given the circumstances surrounding him this week.

It appears that despite returning to practice this week, Patriots tight end Aaron Hernandez may still not take the field against the Broncos tomorrow afternoon. this week. Meanwhile, fellow tight end terror Rob Gronkowski is listed as questionable for the showdown. I’d certainly keep a close eye on the pregame shows, but if I were a betting man I’d be inclined to bet Gronkowski is the more likely to play.

And this just in ... Peyton Manning looked pretty good last week while the Patriots pass defense has been pretty suspect,, so I wouldn’t hesitate to start him or his Broncos targets this week.

The Chargers-Saints game could be very interesting. Even as New Orleans quarterback Drew Brees looks to break Johnny Unitas’ all-time record of 47 straight games with a touchdown pass, it appears San Diego will be focusing on another former Charger: Darren Sproles.

San Diego head coach Norv Turner said this week that his team “(has) to find a way to slow him down, stop him and get the ball away from him. We have to do whatever we can do to give ourselves a chance to win the game.”

Sproles set an NFL record for total yards last season and is off to a fast start again in that category. The Chargers are 11th in the league in total defense but fifth against the rush. He’ll still be in many lineups, but with the Chargers admitting that they’re focusing on Sproles you have to wonder how well he’ll perform this week.