New Atlanta Falcons running back Mike Davis’ regular-season debut was underwhelming. He rushed 15 times for 49 yards against the Eagles, adding 3 receptions for 23 yards. Will Davis have a successful fantasy football outing against the Buccaneers’ stout run defense?
Mike Davis was expected to handle a large workload in 2021
Davis played a high percentage of Atlanta’s snaps in Week 1. However, Cordarrelle Patterson was still provided 9 opportunities (rushing attempts plus targets). The good news is that Davis finished Week 1 with 5 opportunities inside the 20-yard line. He should continue to dominate the opportunity share in the Falcons’ backfield. Atlanta signed the former Panthers running back to a two-year, $5.5 million contract that includes $3 million fully guaranteed to return to his hometown.
The Falcons’ new head coach, Arthur Smith, was previously the offensive coordinator of the Titans. Last year, Tennessee’s offense averaged 385.4 total yards per game, which ranked fifth in the NFL. While the Titans ranked second in rushing attempts per game (32), they came in at 30th in pass attempts per game (30). Tennessee leaned heavily on play-action passes and pre-snap motion last year.
I’ll be transparent. Davis can be viewed as a volume-based RB2. However, my biggest concern with the Falcons is their offensive line. The most significant loss was center Alex Mack (who signed with the 49ers in free agency). The Falcons also lost left guard James Carpenter. That’s the bad news. The good news is that Atlanta has several promising young offensive linemen. Yet, that optimism was not on display in Week 1. Atlanta’s OL allowed a great deal of pressure and 3 critical sacks late in the fourth quarter.
Now, Davis and the Falcons have to face a stout Buccaneers defensive front this week — a defensive unit that held Cowboys running back Ezekiel Elliott to 11 rushing attempts and 33 yards.
How should you view Mike Davis in Week 2?
As I mentioned above, Davis is still an RB2, but it’s important to have proper expectations considering the matchup. Elliott’s struggles against the Buccaneers’ defense are well-documented. If you look at the last five regular-season games from 2020, the top RB scorers did not fare well. The group averaged 13 touches, 76 total yards, and 11.4 PPR fantasy points per game.
The Falcons have quarterback Matt Ryan, wide receiver Calvin Ridley, and tight end Kyle Pitts. Nevertheless, this team could be one of the worst in the NFL right now. The Buccaneers are favored by 12.5 points, with the over/under set at 51.5. The Falcons could find themselves playing in a negative game script. This isn’t ideal for Davis. Even so, he could still be used as a receiver out of the backfield.
Should you start him?
When you consider the Falcons’ offensive situation and the matchup against the Buccaneers, the thought of inserting Davis into your fantasy football lineup does not make you feel warm and fuzzy. He is someone to sit in most leagues. If you have no choice, it would be prudent to insert additional upside into your roster at another position or in the flex.
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