It’s semifinals weeks for most of us in the fantasy football world, and you start clinching up a little more when it comes to setting your lineups. Such is the case with the opening game of Week 15 as the Jacksonville Jaguars travel to play the Atlanta Falcons on Thursday night.
Falcons receivers Roddy White and Julio Jones are certainly two players many of us are counting on to get our semifinals started off the right way, but the numbers say they might not come through.
The 4-9 Jaguars, and their decimated secondary, are still the No. 4 ranked pass defense in the league at 190.8 yards per game thanks to being thrown on just 30.8 times per game (ranked 28th in the league). And unlike other teams ranked high against the pass because they are terrible against the run — Cleveland (2nd against the pass 31st against the run) and St. Louis (8th against the pass and 32nd against the run) — Jacksonville is 16th against the run at 111.5 yards per game.
However, the Jaguars have allowed six of the last eight feature backs they have faced to gain at least 80 all-purpose yards and an average of 16.1 fantasy points per game.
Week 6 — Rashard Mendenhall, 20.6
Week 7 — Ray Rice, 8.8
Week 8 — Arian Foster, 18.9
Week 10 — Donald Brown, 8.5
Week 11 — Chris Ogbonnaya, 20.4
Week 12 — Arian Foster, 18.4
Week 13 — Ryan Mathews, 18.9
Week 14 — LeGarrette Blount, 14.5
Conversely, No. 1 WRs have averaged 9.3 fantasy points since Week 6 against the Jaguars. They are tied for seventh in the league with just 16 passing touchdowns allowed.
Jacksonville has allowed six TDs to receivers in the first seven weeks and four in the last four weeks — three of them coming from three different San Diego receivers in Week 13.
Week 6 — Mike Wallace, 14.6
Week 7 — Anquan Boldin, 12
Week 8 — Kevin Walter, 9.5
Week 10 — Reggie Wayne, 2.8
Week 11 — Greg Litle, 8.4
Week 12 — Andre Johnson, 3.2
Week 13 — Vincent Jackson, 18.8
Week 14 — Mike Williams, 5
The only No. 2 receiver to have a valuable fantasy day since Week 6 would be San Diego’s Malcom Floyd in Week 13 with four catches for 108 yards and a score.
Granted, the Jaguars have faced decent running teams like the Ravens and Texans since Week 6 and have not faced potent passing attacks in that time (i.e. Colts, Browns, Buccaneers and the Texans), but what do you consider the Falcons is the question going into Week 15, and what do you think their defense will give to the Jaguars?
The Falcons are 16th in the league in rushing. Michael Turner is averaging 12.5 points per game since Week 6. He has had three single-digit fantasy days in a row with no TDs in that time and 76 yards rushing as the best day. Atlanta is 10th in passing with White averaging 13.5 points since Week 6 and the rookie Jones in and out of the lineup. When he’s in and active he’s great (12.45 PPG this season). He has battled hamstring issues this season and is now probable with a back injury for Thursday’s game.
The Falcons rank top 10 in both rushing attempts per game (28.2) and passing attempts per game (36.9).
So you really have to flip a coin and try to figure out which Atlanta offense is out there Thursday night? Is it the one that wants to showcase two talented receivers in a nationally televised game or one that wants to pound Turner against a team that has been much more friendly to RBs in six of the last eight weeks than it has receivers? Turner averages 22.3 yards per game rushing more at home this season (94.2) than away, whereas Ryan is pretty even at home and away this season.
Also keep in mind, the Jaguars only have RB Maurice Jones-Drew as a viable fantasy option and he faces the No. 5 rush defense in the league. So this one could be over in a hurry.
By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter