I’m going with Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan as a confident start in Week 13 at Houston.
It’s a tough matchup. Ryan’s got injuries on his side of the ball; the Texans are tough on the defensive side of the ball. But Ryan will come through for you this week as a starting fantasy QB in 12-team leagues.
Here’s what we’re looking at with the matchup.
Atlanta sees running back Michael Turner questionable as he battles a groin injury. Pass-catching backs Jason Snelling and Jacquizz Rodgers could step in and be a help to Ryan’s fantasy numbers. If Turner tries to play through the injury, that takes away more opportunities for passes out of the backfield, though. Julio Jones (hamstring) could also miss basically his third straight game (came back last week with no targets). So Ryan would be left to get it done with a platoon backfield, Roddy White, Harry Douglas and Tony Gonzalez.
Ryan has been a solid fantasy QB the last four games, only one of which Julio ones was a factor. Ryan has thrown for 262-plus yards in each game, nine total TDs and two interceptions. Ryan’s average line over those last four games is 301 yards on 23 completions, 2.3 TDs and .5 interceptions for three 22-point fantasy days.
The Texans are the No. 2 pass defense (175.8 YPG), have not given up more than 14 points in the last five games but have also not faced a stiff challenge in quite a while. The Falcons have not been held below 23 points since Week 6. Also, Houston rolls out rookie QB T.J. Yates for his first start and should give Atlanta’s ninth-ranked defense plenty of chances to get the ball back to Ryan and Co.
The Texans have not faced an every week fantasy QB starter this season since Pittsburgh’s Ben Roethlisberger in Week 3. On that day, Big Ben completed 16-of-30 passes for 206 yards, no scores and an interception.
Since then, the Texans have seen Jason Campbell, Joe Flacco, Matt Hasselbeck, Blaine Gabbert twice, Colt McCoy and Josh Freeman. None are the who’s who of fantasy QBs, and collectively they were held to an average of 164 yards on 14 completions per game with five touchdowns and 11 interceptions.
Since Week 6, Ryan has not dipped below 16 fantasy points — which is quite a feat considering some of the fringe QBs out there this season — and that is about what you could expect from him on Sunday. The Falcons have played five road games thus far and Ryan averages 16.04 points away from the Georgia Dome.
Yes, it’s a bad matchup for Ryan, and injuries to his weapons will hurt, but what are your other options?
Ryan is currently the seventh-best QB in fantasy points per game (17.3), ahead of Philip Rivers, Tim Tebow, Roethlisberger, Mark Sanchez, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Andy Dalton, Josh Freeman, Matt Hasselbeck, Joe Flacco, Colt McCoy, Carson Palmer, Alex Smith and Matt Moore.
Off that list, there’s only one I am thinking of starting ahead of Ryan. Roethlisberger played the Bengals in Week 10 and produced 12.6 points, but the Cincy defense is a lot more banged up just three weeks later. And you never know what you’re going to get from the others. Give me the guaranteed 16 with a good chance at more and I’m starting Ryan.
By Corby A. Yarbrough @Corby_Yarbrough on Twitter