Starting Matt Ryan in fantasy this week hinges greatly on Julio Jones’ health.
Everything went wrong for the Atlanta Falcons in their 2020 NFL season. Expected to contend for a playoff spot, the Dirty Birds will watch the postseason from at home on the couch for the third January in a row. The coaching has been horrendous, and Julio Jones has dealt with hamstring issues since Week 2’s loss vs. the Dallas Cowboys. It has negatively impacted Matt Ryan.
The Fantasy Footballers are monitoring Jones’ status for Week 6’s road game vs. the Minnesota Vikings very closely. Jones is the type of player that doesn’t need to practice in a given week to have success on the football field on Sunday. However, if he is ruled out for the second week in a row, as he was at home vs. the Carolina Panthers, then probably don’t start Ryan in fantasy.
Sunday up in Minneapolis is very much a “just get through the season” type of a game for Atlanta and Minnesota. They have combined to win one game in the first five weeks of the season. Dan Quinn has already been fired as the Falcons head coach and Mike Zimmer could be on the hot seat if things don’t get better quickly for him in the Twin Cities. But this game has fantasy implications.
It’s a lost year for the Falcons, but don’t ruin your fantasy team because of them.
Because the Vikings will be on bye in Week 8, they have decided to proactively hold out their star running back Dalvin Cook from this game. Why have him get beat up against the flightless Falcons at home when Alexander Mattison can run train on the defense just as easily? Since Jones is the Falcons’ most talented player, why rush him out there in what is already a lost year for the team?
What is important is if Jones can’t play, then it’s probably not in your best interest to start Ryan in fantasy. Usually, Ryan is one of the better value players in fantasy. He often gets overlooked by fantasy drafters, but typically puts up a ton of yards for you as your QB1. In most years, he’s a fantastic QB1, but he has not been the least bit good as a passer without his favorite target.
Even if Jones is merely being used as a decoy, you can still feel confident about starting Ryan because he’ll, in theory, be able to spread the ball around. But if Jones can’t play, look to start another quarterback on your roster over Ryan. It’s a shame that we’ve come to this with Ryan no longer being a QB1 on most fantasy teams. You have to play it week-by-week with him now.