The weather is not the only thing sweltering in Atlanta right now. Atlanta has a lot to brag about as the baseball team will battle the St. Louis Cardinals in a one-game playoff to determine the National League Wild Card. On the gridiron, the Falcons are undefeated and running away with the NFC South. The 2012 NFC South champion New Orleans Saints are reeling and winless, while the rival Falcons are undefeated and leading the league in scoring.
Quarterback Matt Ryan has been solid for several seasons, but has taken a step closer to elite as he is the top fantasy quarterback thus far with 12 scores and a 112.1 quarterback rating. Roddy White is posting top wide receiver numbers as he is averaging more than 103 receiving yards per game with three touchdowns. Second-year wideout Julio Jones has also stepped up with three touchdowns. Remember Tony Gonzalez? He is proving that age is only a number as the 36-year-old veteran is currently the top fantasy tight end. Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons have received criticism over the years for being invincible at home, but inconsistent away from the Georgia Dome. Thus far in 2012, the Falcons have been soaring over their opponents no matter they play.
Week 4 was chock-full of huge performances and surprises, including Brian Hartline’s monster 253 receiving yards, Chris Johnson’s return to fantasy stardom, solid performances from the big three quarterbacks (Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady, Drew Brees), Tony Romo’s five interception home collapse, and the New York Jets’ pitiful goose egg loss against the San Francisco 49ers.
For the most part, last week’s predictions were relatively close. Take a dive into Week 5 with me and let’s see if we can have two strong weeks of forecasts in a row.
QB Christian Ponder- Really? Yes! Ponder has been excellent this season and will be a great play at home againsr the visiting Tennessee Titans. Tennessee has allowed at least two touchdowns to all opposing quarterbacks this season. Ponder has not thrown an interception this season and is certainly not showing any signs of a sophomore slump. If you have a stud quarterback, play him. However, Ponder may be a nice spot start if your other quarterback is on bye or faces a tough matchup.
Week 5 Forecast: 200 passing yards, 2 TD
RB Jackie Battle- In many leagues, Ryan Mathews was a first-round or early second-round selection. Those fearing a Mathews injury picked up Curtis Brinkley and Ronnie Brown as handcuffs. However, it is the fourth-string running back that has been a pleasant surprise for San Diego this season. Battle is averaging more than five yards per carry along with 118 receiving yards and four touchdowns. Although Mathews may return to the top of the depth chart soon, use Battle while you can, especially in a favorable matchup against New Orleans, who is allowing almost six yards per carry to opposing backs! Look for a generous dose of Battle with Mathews remaining in the mix.
Week 5 Forecast: 100 total yards, TD
WR Julio Jones- Many fantasy analysts were unsure whether Roddy White or Jones would win the favor as Matt Ryan’s top target. Although White has been more productive this season, Jones is certainly holding his own. He was bothered by a lacerated right hand in Week 4, but should rebound in Week 5. Also, check out Jones’ home-road splits as he averages 87.5 receiving yards on the road, which is more than 65 yards more than his home average. He should be a great play on the road this week against the Washington Redskins.
Week 5 Forecast: 100 receiving yards, TD
TE Jacob Tamme- Peyton Manning and Tamme built chemistry in Indianapolis in 2010 after Dallas Clark was lost for the season. They reunited in Denver this season and are already on the same page. Tamme’s numbers have been average this season, but should see an upswing against the New England Patriots, who have surrendered three touchdowns to opposing tight ends over the last two games. Tamme has at least five catches in his previous two matchups against the Patriotss and should have a strong outing in Week 5.
Week 5 Forecast: 60 receiving yards, TD
D/ST Green Bay Packers - Green Bay’s defense has not performed as projected in 2012. However, they still have a chip on their shoulder after being “robbed” of a victory against Seattle on Monday Night Football in Week 3. They have a favorable matchup against the Indianapolis Colts, who have scored the least points in the league this season. Look for Clay Matthews to pressure Andrew Luck into forcing passes, which should result in a few turnovers.