THE FIFTH DOWN; Personnel File: Falcons’ Ryan Is a Safe Bet Against the Saints

Jason and Justin Sablich are here to help you with your fantasy football team. The Sablich brothers will provide fantasy football advice throughout the season on this blog and on Twitter (@5thDownFantasy).

As if the holidays are not stressful enough, some of you will be trying to watch a full day of football with a fantasy football championship on the line. If you are one of those lucky fantasy owners, we wish you the best of luck and hope you find some guidance in the words that follow. If your team fell short this year, know that another fantasy football season is always just around the corner.

Complete Week 16 Rankings

Favorable/Unfavorable Quarterback Matchups

Favorable

Matt Ryan (ATL) vs. New Orleans — Fantasy’s seventh-ranked quarterback threw a season-high 52 passes in his first meeting with New Orleans, completing 29 of them for 351 yards and 2 touchdowns. He’s been red hot of late, racking up seven touchdowns over his last two outings, and things should stay that way considering the Saints’ struggle to defend the pass (seventh-best quarterback matchup).

Tim Tebow (DEN) vs. Buffalo — Tom Brady won the game last week for the Patriots, but Tebow made strides as a passer, completing 7 of his 11 passes for 15 or more yards in route to a 27-point fantasy day. Expect another strong start against the lowly Bills defense, which has allowed 19 points a week to opposing quarterbacks (eighth-best matchup).


Kyle Orton (KC) vs. Oakland — Orton did not post monster numbers against the Packers, but he did lead his team to a stunning upset victory in his first start for the Chiefs, and that has to count for something. In five straight games, the Raiders have yielded at least 20 fantasy points to quarterbacks, including he likes of Caleb Hanie and Christian Ponder.

Rex Grossman (WAS) vs. Minnesota — Teams dealing with a hobbled Ben Roethlisberger might want to look Grossman’s way (if you’re really desperate). The Vikings makeshift secondary is truly that awful, allowing 24 points a week to the position on average, which is considered the best fantasy matchup a quarterback can have this season.

Unfavorable

Eli Manning (NYG) vs. Jets — Congratulations to those of you who started Manning last week and are still alive this week. You’ll probably want to look elsewhere in your championship game. The Jets secondary has allowed just 13 points a week to opposing quarterbacks this season (fifth-worst matchup), and things only get worse as Manning appears to have lost another weapon with tight end Jake Ballard’s season in doubt.

Joe Flacco (BAL) vs. Cleveland — Do you really trust Flacco in your Week 16 championship game against fantasy’s third-worst quarterback matchup? He certainly did not do much the first time these two teams met, netting just four fantasy points on 156 yards and no touchdowns. There are likely some better options on your wire, like Orton.

Ben Roethlisberger (PIT) vs. St. Louis — The matchup isn’t a horrible one, although most teams choose to attack the Rams cellar-dwelling run defense. But Roethlisberger is clearly bothered by his ankle injury and might not even play, considering he’ll have just four days to get ready because of the holiday.

Josh Freeman (TB) vs. Carolina — The matchup isn’t the problem here, its Freeman, who has thrown just two touchdown passes in his last three games, with a 178-yard passing average and three fumbles.

Favorable/Unfavorable Running Back Matchups

Favorable

Willis McGahee (DEN) vs. Buffalo — McGahee was well on his way to a big game (7 carries for 70 yards) before blowing a tire during Denver’s second offensive series against the Patriots. He would get just two carries the rest of the way. Denver Coach John Fox stated during Monday’s news conference that there were no major injuries to report, and McGahee did turn up for practice on Tuesday, but let’s hope you played it safe and tried to add Lance Ball (13 carries, 105 yards, 1 touchdown in Week 15) just in case. Whoever gets the start against Buffalo should produce, considering a running back has failed to top 10 fantasy points just twice this season against them (third-best running back matchup).

DeAngelo Williams (CAR) vs. Tampa Bay — After totaling just eight standard fantasy points against laughable run defenses (Indianapolis and Tampa Bay) in Weeks 12 and 13, Williams has now compiled 27 fantasy points in his last two games against the much stiffer Atlanta and Houston defensive fronts. How’s that for predictability? He gets another crack at fantasy’s best running back matchup in Week 16, and he should fare better than the 11-carry, 29-yard day he managed against the Buccaneers a few weeks ago.

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