2013 Fantasy Football Week Five Dark Horse: Atlanta Falcons D/ST

By Dustin Manko
Atlanta Falcons DST
Daniel Shirey-USA TODAY Sports

When discussing the powerhouse defenses of the NFL, the Atlanta Falcons are usually not among the first names that enter the conversation. Truth be told, they actually rank dead last in fantasy football points scored by D/ST this season, which is probably why they are owned in only 18 percent of Yahoo! leagues. Despite that, the Falcons could be a sneaky sleeper plug and play defense for those streamers out there.

Next Monday night the Falcons host the New York Jets, who are currently allowing the seventh most fantasy points to opposing defenses/special teams, and rank 27th in the league in total offense. Rookie quarterback Geno Smith is currently second in the NFL in both sacks allowed (14) and interceptions thrown (8). Smith also has two fumbles on the season, including one from the 2 yard line that turned into a defensive touchdown for the Tennessee Titans in week four.

To make matters worse for the Jets, they will be without two of their top receivers. Stephen Hill is dealing with concussion symptoms and doesn’t appear on track to play, and Santonio Holmes is out for a few weeks with a grade 2 hamstring injury. Even without Falcons star cornerback Asante Samuel, the Jets don’t exactly inspire fear with Jeremy Kerley and Kellen Winslow as the primary receiving options. It could be a very long night for the passing game in Atlanta. If Samuel can get over his thigh injury then the Falcons secondary gets a significant upgrade and the Jets passing game a significant downgrade.

With the trouble at wide receiver for the Jets it would stand to reason that the Jets would lean heavily on the running game. Rex Ryan loves to run the ball, and the Jets are actually 10th in rushing in the league so far, despite only two rushing touchdowns on the season. The Falcons however, rank eighth against the run. Even if the Jets elect to go ground and pound that would be advantageous to Falcons D/ST owners as yards against typically don’t count in most fantasy formats.

But past all the stats and matchups is one other crucial piece of information. The Falcons are now 1-3 and desperate to keep pace with the rest of the NFC. It doesn’t look like the New Orleans Saints are showing any indications of slowing down, and the Falcons at this point don’t seem to have much chance of winning the division, which leaves their playoff hopes as a wildcard spot. For a team that started the year with Super Bowl aspirations, the Falcons should come out guns blazing on Monday night.

As always, I welcome your comments. If you think I’m wrong, I’m willing to listen. Just back it up with some facts and solid evidence. Thanks for reading and good luck this season.

Dustin Manko is an author at Rant Sports.com. Follow him on Twitter @DustinManko, ”Like” him on Facebook or add him to your network on Google

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