Any game involving the Kansas City Chiefs and Atlanta Falcons is usually noteworthy from a fantasy perspective, but this week, owners strike gold when the two teams square off against each other.
With this being the final weekend of play for most fantasy leagues, every decision is magnified with the extremely high stakes of a fantasy championship hanging in the balance. Without further ado, let’s take a deeper dive into players who should be targeted and avoided in this game.
Falcons at Chiefs Fantasy Football: Start 'Em
Falcons QB Matt Ryan
While the Falcons haven’t had the season they would have hoped for in real life, QB Matt Ryan has also taken a step back from the elites of the QB position in fantasy football. He’s only thrown 22 touchdown passes this year(tied for 15th most in the NFL), and has had 11 passes picked off(tied for 4th most in the league).
All of that doesn’t bode well against a Kansas City Chiefs defense which is tied for second in the league with 16 interceptions, but Atlanta will not have much of a choice but to air it out early and often in this game. Ryan was third in the league in passing yards coming into Week 16, and will need to pepper Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage and Hayden Hurst with targets to stay in the game. Game script should work perfectly for the Falcons’ passing attack, so start them with confidence.
Chiefs RB Le’Veon Bell
Chances are if your team is in the final round of the fantasy playoffs, you haven’t needed to rely on Le’Veon Bell’s contributions with the Jets or Chiefs this season to get this far. But it is entirely possible that Chiefs RB Clyde Edwards Helaire has been a consistent contributor to week in and week out success, and that Bell was stashed on the bench in case something ever happened to CEH.
Well, something did happen to the LSU rookie last week, and it’s unlikely that we’ll see him again until Kansas City’s first playoff game. With Kansas City needing one more win to solidify the number one seed, expect Bell to get the lion’s share of the work in the backfield, with reserve ball carrier Darrel Williams mixing in. Bell handled 16 total touches against the New Orleans Saints last week and scored a touchdown, and should have no issue duplicating that workload against Atlanta.
Falcons at Chiefs Fantasy Football: Sit ‘Em
Falcons RBs Todd Gurley and Ito Smith
As touched upon a little earlier, the Chiefs offense is very good, and the Falcons likely won’t have time to ease into the game by milking the clock and running the ball. Additionally, the Chiefs are in the bottom half of the league in rushing touchdowns allowed, so even when/if the Falcons have goal to go opportunities, they’ll be better served trying to convert through the air.
To make matters worse, the team has phased free agent RB Todd Gurley out of their offense, and have not committed to Ito Smith or Brian Hill as a replacement. There’s no way to know which of the three will be most involved, and in a game where Atlanta figures to trail most of the way, avoid the Falcons backfield at all costs.
Falcons K Younghoe Koo
Koo has been a bright spot for fantasy owners this season, as he leads the league in field goals made this season with 35. He’s also a perfect 8 out of 8 in attempts over 50 yards.
So why consider benching him? The Falcons figure to need to score touchdowns almost every time they have the ball to hang in with the defending Super Bowl champions, and head coach Raheem Morris might opt to be ultra aggressive in this game by passing up field goal attempts and going for it on fourth down. The Chiefs also have the third highest percentage of field goal defense in the NFL, which in other words, means that teams convert field goals at the third lowest rate of success against Kansas City.