Sometimes the best thing that can happen to a team after an embarrassing loss is a short turnaround. The Atlanta Falcons get that when they face the New England Patriots on Thursday Night Football. The bad news? They face the New England Patriots on Thursday Night Football. Falcons RBs Wayne Gallman and Mike Davis both have question marks, but should either start for fantasy football in Week 11?
Update 11/18/21: According to ESPN’s Adam Schefter, Patterson will be inactive tonight for Atlanta’s matchup against the Patriots.
Wayne Gallman or Mike Davis | The Atlanta backfield is a confusing place
The Falcons looked completely inept as the Dallas Cowboys dismantled them in Week 10. In what was billed as a revenge game, former Atlanta head coach Dan Quinn’s Cowboys defense limited the Falcons to 3 points. Now, the Falcons get Bill Belichick. It’s not the ideal opportunity for a rebound.
Cordarrelle Patterson, the most appealing fantasy option in Atlanta’s backfield, is dealing with a high ankle sprain. He has been limited in practice all week, and head coach Arthur Smith admitted Patterson will be a game-time decision. Make sure to check for updates as the game draws nearer.
Mike Davis will play a different role than Cordarrelle Patterson
If Patterson doesn’t play, the Falcons’ offense will be dealt a significant blow when they’re already desperately short of playmakers. Davis will enter the game as the lead back and be expected to carry the load for the offense. He should see an increase in snaps and rushing attempts. He could see more targets in the receiving game as well.
Davis won’t be flexed out to wide receiver like Patterson has been, as he doesn’t possess the same unique skill set. But Davis has proven to be a reliable option out of the backfield throughout his career.
He’s a three-down back who may not excel in any one aspect, but his versatility is valuable to Atlanta’s coaching staff. He’s also been a consistent part of the offense, while Gallman has been a healthy scratch in multiple games.
The expectation is that the Patriots defense will base their game plan around stopping rookie tight end Kyle Pitts. And given the Falcons’ lack of capable options at wide receiver, Davis could see a lot of checkdowns.
Wayne Gallman won’t be a big part of the offense
Gallman was a fantasy surprise in Week 10. He rushed 15 times for 55 yards, leading the Falcons. He also had 1 reception for 21 yards. At this point of the season, there’s always a temptation to spend heavily on the waiver wire with the hope of finding a breakout running back for your fantasy football team. With Gallman, though, that looks unlikely to be the case.
The Falcons were down heavily for the majority of their Week 10 game and abandoned the ineffective run game early. By the time Gallman entered the game, it was deep into garbage time. Josh Rosen was in at quarterback and the Cowboys had substituted in backups. They were content to let the Falcons bleed the clock with running plays.
Fantasy points late in blowouts count the same as they do at any other point of the game, and Atlanta could find itself in a similar situation in Week 11 — but it’s a gamble to expect the same usage. When discussing the reasons for Gallman’s workload, Smith echoed that sentiment, pointing to the short week and the scoreboard.
Falcons must find ways to score against the Patriots
The Patriots have done an excellent job limiting fantasy running backs this season. On closer inspection, though, much of their stinginess comes from their bend-but-don’t-break defense. They are allowing the 12th-most rushing yards per game to running backs, which is a respectable number. However, they are giving up the third-most receiving yards per game to the position, behind only the Seattle Seahawks and New York Jets.
New England has excelled at keeping RBs out of the end zone. They’ve allowed just 2 rushing touchdowns in 10 games, the lowest number in the league, and 1 receiving touchdown to running backs.
The Patriots appear content to give up completions to RBs. This has provided a good opportunity for running backs to accumulate points and should continue with Davis and Gallman. If either player has a fantasy impact, though, they’ll need to score touchdowns. Davis has just 2 so far this season, and Gallman is yet to score.
While both would receive a boost if Patterson is inactive, neither player should be started with any real confidence.
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