Oakland Raiders @ Atlanta Falcons
Oakland: The Raiders come off their bye with more questions than answers at this point in the season. What team are the Raiders trying to be? Are they a passing team under Carson Palmer, or a running team led by Darren McFadden? No matter what the answer is, they haven’t done either particularly well, which is the crux of the issue.
The Raiders are 1-3, with their only win coming in Week 3 against the Steelers, and even then they needed a furious 4th quarter comeback to stun Pittsburgh, which hasn’t shown to be particularly good this year anyhow. Even though the Raiders rank a healthy 12th in passing offense in terms of yards per game, Palmer has only thrown 5 TDs against 7 INTs so far this season. It’s not like McFadden and the running game are helping; they’re dead last in yards per game, with half their season total in yards coming in that game against the Steelers.
This doesn’t bode well for the Raiders, going against a Falcons defense that has the same strengths (Falcons rank 7th versus the pass, Raiders are 12th passing offense) and weaknesses (Falcons are 27th versus the rush, Raiders are 32nd rush offense), is one of the lone undefeated teams left, and is playing at home. The Raiders would be smart to try to get McFadden going early and often, but the Falcons may just jump all over the horrendous Raiders defense, making it Air Palmer once again.
Good Start: RB Darren McFadden
Middle of the Road: QB Carson Palmer, WR Darrius Heyward-Bey, WR Denarious Moore
Bad Start: TE Brandon Myers
Atlanta: Even when the Falcons come out a bit lethargic like they did on the road against the Redskins, they’re still finding ways to win. A mark of a good team is being able to win tough road games when things aren’t going their way, and the Falcons are doing that.
Under Matt Ryan’s guidance, the Falcons sport the league’s 7th best passing attack, and Ryan himself is ranked as either the 1st or 2nd QB in most fantasy scoring formats year to date. This is pretty unfortunate for Oakland’s prospects of winning this game, as they are currently the 28th ranked passing defense. Can you say, pinball “TILT” game for Matty Ice and company? This is a week that hopefully Julio Jones can put to rest the strange statistical trend of disappearing in home games while exploding on the road. Even if he doesn’t, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez will more than make up for it in this game.
The Raiders do match up fairly evenly against the run, ranking 15th in rush defense with the Falcons only ranking 21st behind the efforts of lead RB Michael Turner. Turner looks like he’s become much more of a plodder this season, and he’s often saved fantasy-wise by scoring a TD. This is a good game to bet on him getting one of those short range TDs though, so he makes an ok start here.
Good Start: QB Matt Ryan, WR Roddy White, TE Tony Gonzalez
Middle of the Road: RB Michael Turner, WR Julio Jones
Bad Start: RB Jaquizz Rodgers, WR Harry Douglas