Monday Night Football will be delivering us a game in Week 16 that should have been a huge NFC match up with heavy implications. Unfortunately, the 4-10 Atlanta Falcons couldn't come through as a returning playoff contender. The 10-4 San Francisco 49ers are simply hoping to clinch a playoff berth on Monday. Atlanta may not be heading to the postseason, but it wasn't long ago that they faced the 49ers in the NFC Championship game. The Falcons lost to the 49ers in January and failed to progress to the Super Bowl.
Even though they won't be heading to the playoffs, the Falcons may be trying to get revenge against the 49ers. For fantasy owners around the country, the implications are greater than ever. Most fantasy leagues are experiencing the final match up of the season. As usual, we're here to discuss what fantasy owners can expect from Monday Night Football.
Matt Ryan: If you've gotten this far in your fantasy postseason, it's unlikely that Matt Ryan helped you get here. He's been an inconsistent option all season, and the 49ers are giving up the 3rd fewest points to fantasy quarterbacks all season. It's a tough match up. It's on the road. Matt Ryan is simply to risky to gamble your fantasy championship on.
Running backs: Steven Jackson is finally performing for fantasy owners. He's scored five touchdowns over the past four weeks. As great as his fantasy numbers have been, a good portion of Jackson's fantasy numbers are a result of his touchdowns. He hasn't surpassed 100 yards all season, averaging 68 yards over the past four weeks. The 49ers are stingy with fantasy running backs. Fantasy owners should hope for a few goal line carries if they want to come away with some worthwhile production from Jackson. Consider him a shaky flex.
Wide receivers: Roddy White has been inconsistent since his return. He has just one touchdown over his past six games. His target count has increased over the past three weeks. As tough as the 49ers are against fantasy wide receivers, White will certainly get plenty of opportunity for receptions. He's a WR3 with the upside that comes along with being a heavily targeted player, but his lack of scoring is concerning. Harry Douglas is seeing plenty of targets as well, but his yardage totals have been dismal over the past several weeks. Douglas hasn't found the end zone since Week 11. He's a WR4 that could find some attention if White gets more attention from San Francisco on Monday.
Tight ends: Tony Gonzalez may be the best fantasy player on Atlanta's roster in Week 16. He's scored in three straight games. He's three receptions away from leading the team in receptions for 2013. Without a postseason to fight for, Atlanta could involve Gonzalez early and often as he inches closer to his retirement at the end of the season. That said, it's likely that San Francisco is fully aware of the threat Gonzalez poses. They'll do everything they can to shut him out. He's a low-end TE1 in your fantasy championship.
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Defense/ Special teams: The Falcons have been a great fantasy defense over the past two weeks. The Green Bay Packers and Washington Redskins gave Atlanta plenty of sacks, interceptions, and fumble recoveries. It will be a tougher task for the Falcons on the road in San Francisco. If you've gambled on Atlanta during your fantasy playoffs, it clearly paid off. It's time to look for a better match up in Week 16.
Colin Kaepernick: After his strong 2012 fantasy output, it's fair to say that Kaepernick has been a bit of a disappointment in 2013. He's been a roller coaster. One thing that Kaepernick has done consistently, however, is deliver in soft match ups. Atlanta is giving up the 7th most fantasy points to quarterbacks this season. Kaepernick is in store for for a great Week 16 at home. He's a solid QB1 for your fantasy championship.
Running backs: Monday presents a dream match up for Frank Gore. The Falcons have given up the 7th most fantasy points to running backs this season. There is some concern with Gore's ankle. There's also some concern that the 49ers may bench some starters depending on the outcome of Sunday's games. That said, Gore is a solid RB2 option if you need him.
Wide receivers: Michael Crabtree began to show signs of life in Week 15. He finished with five receptions for 45 yards and a touchdown. He'll have a great match up against the Falcons as the 49ers continue conditioning Crabtree for the postseason. He's a strong WR3 play. Anquan Boldin may offer equal value on Monday. He's a WR3 option with some upside in PPR leagues. The Falcons present a soft enough match up where it's simply anyone's game from a fantasy perspective.
Tight ends: San Francisco's true No. 1 receiver is arguably one of the best fantasy options on the 49ers roster on Monday. The Falcons will have a difficult time stopping Davis, especially with Crabtree getting back into form as another receiving threat. Again, there are some slight concerns regarding playing time depending on the outcome of Sunday's games in the NFC. That said, he's still a must-start option in your fantasy championship.
Defense/ Special teams: San Francisco is a top-ten start in Week 16. Atlanta is below average in points allowed to fantasy defenses. The 49ers are building momentum, and they're a great play at home against a struggling Atlanta offense. They've likely helped you get to your fantasy postseason. It's time to roll with them once more.