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Monday Night Takeaway

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Atlanta 27, Denver 21

Atlanta

Not the greatest of fantasy days for fifth-year quarterback Matt Ryan, totaling 219 yards and two touchdowns. This was simply a case where the reality of winning a football game does not intersect with the production of fantasy numbers. Gaining a 20-point lead with 7:13 remaining in the third quarter, the Falcons scaled back the no huddle attack and chose to milk the clock with underneath passing in the use of Michael Turner.

Before the season, Roddy White himself told us his role would be severely slashed in favor of second-year player Julio Jones. But when the chips are down, and Ryan needs to move the chains, he repeatedly looks for his longtime safety blanket. White is an obvious must-start, and could very easily lead the Falcons in fantasy production by seasons end.

Speaking of Julio Jones, did anybody see him on the field? The box score indicates he was nearly absent in producing a paltry 14 yards? Jones was given a perfect opportunity for a catchable touchdown pass but couldn’t corral the ball. We can only hope this game will go down as Jones’ worst performance on the season.

At age 36, it’s nearly awe-inspiring to watch Tony Gonzalez tear through NFL defenses in route to setting numerous NFL records. He did not disappoint on Monday Night, adding seven receptions for 70 yards and a touchdown to his growing Hall of Fame resume.

So much of fantasy football is repetitious from week to week. Case in point is the rushing attack from Falcons running back Michael Turner, who has transformed into a “plodder” with age. Until a late 15-yard run, Turner was averaging 1.5 yards per carry on a night salvaged only by a goal line touchdown after William Moore was tackled on the Broncos’ 1 yard line after an interception. Turner is a tough week-to-week start as yardage alone will not be enough, thus necessitating a touchdown. Turner should now be considered a matchup based starter.

Denver

Coming off an impressive Week 1 performance against the mighty Pittsburgh Steelers, Peyton Manning showed he has a chink in the armor throwing three first-quarter interceptions. Much of the credit should be awarded to the Atlanta defense with exotic looks, puzzling the all pro quarterback. Digging a hole early further allowed the Atlanta defense to pin their ears back, putting constant pressure and further limiting Manning’s production. However I agree with the comments made by coach John Fox in his postgame press conference - “Manning is still familiarizing himself with his teammates and will get better as the season moves along.”

Quarterback struggles always carry over to the receivers as Jacob Tamme and Eric Decker failed to reach pregame expectations. The only Broncos receiver who proved to be startable was Demaryius Thomas, gaining 78 yards while tacking on arguably the best tippy-toe touchdown catch of the weekend (you know it’s an amazing when a referee standing five feet from the play declares him out of bounds, but overturned by replay).

I must say that I’ve been thoroughly impressed with the play from Willis McGahee thus far in the season. He continues running with downhill power and agility displayed last year, but now aided greatly by the presence of Peyton Manning. McGahee is a lineup lock.

Quick note - A moment that will go unreported was Champ Bailey congratulating Matt Ryan on a hard fought game immediately following the final kneel down. A shutdown, first-ballot hall-of-fame corner giving proper recognition to one of the league brightest young quarterbacks.  The takeaway - Bailey is a true class act, and the future of the NFL is in good hands. Enjoy the week.