Week 4 Game Hub: Was-Atl

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Week 4 Game Hub: Was-Atl

Washington Football Team (1-2, 0-3 ATS) at Atlanta Falcons (1-2, 1-2), 1 p.m.

  • Implied Team Totals: Washington 24.5, Falcons 23

  • Spread/Total Movements: Falcons -1 to WFT -1.5, 48.5 to 47.5

  • Weather: Dome

  • Washington Injuries to Watch: RB Antonio Gibson (shin, questionable), WR Curtis Samuel (groin, probable), CB Benjamin St-Juste (concussion, out), DL Matt Ioannidis (knee, questionable)

  • Falcons Injuries to Watch: DE Marlon Davidson (ankle, out), WR Russell Gage (ankle, out)

Brolley’s Washington Stats and Trends

  • Washington is 1-5 ATS in its last six games, and they’re 1-7 ATS in their last eight games as a favorite.

  • The Football Team is 4-1 toward unders in their last five games as a favorite.

  • The Football Team had a rough showing in a lopsided loss to the Bills in Week 3, but Taylor Heinicke still came through with 23.4 FP — he’s posted 21+ FP in each of his first two starts. He completed 14/24 passes for 212 yards, two touchdowns, and two INTs and he added 8/21/1 rushing to pad his numbers. The Falcons contained Daniel Jones to 266 scoreless passing yards and 39 rushing yards last week.

  • Terry McLaurin has a 11/107/1 receiving performance in Week 2 sandwiched by a pair of 4/62 performances in Weeks 1 and 3. He’s still seen a 27% target share and he’ll get an easier matchup than he’s faced to this point in the season. The Falcons are giving up the 13th-most FPG (40.2) to WRs this season.

  • Curtis Samuel is eligible to return from the IR this week off his groin injury. He’d likely be on a snap count if he’s healthy enough to play, and Adam Humphries and Dyami Brown would see their roles reduced.

  • Logan Thomas is hanging around as a low-end TE1 through the first three weeks. He’s scored between 9.5-13.2 FP in each contest with just a 15% target share but he still ranks fifth in routes run at the position with 100. The Falcons are giving up the seventh-most FPG (16.5) to TEs through three weeks and they’ve given up three TDs to the position.

  • Antonio Gibson needed a 73-yard touchdown reception on a screen pass to keep his fantasy owners from jumping off bridges last week. He otherwise finished with just 12/31 rushing against the Bills on a season-low 57% of the snaps in an extremely negative gamescript. J.D. McKissic disappointed in Week 3 despite the script, playing a healthy 46% of the snaps but posting just 2/15 receiving on two targets and 3/23 rushing against the Bills. This projects to be a much better script for Gibson this week as short road favorites. The Falcons have faced 20.0 carries per game and they’ve allowed 4.2 YPC so far.

Brolley’s Falcons Stats and Trends

  • The Falcons are 7-3 toward unders in their last 10 games, and they’re 5-2 toward unders in their last seven home games.

  • Atlanta is 3-6 ATS in its last nine home games since 2020.

  • Matt Ryan has yet to reach 20+ FP despite attempting 35+ passes in every game this season. He’s averaging just 6.0 YPA with the league’s lowest aDOT (4.9) among quarterbacks who have started all three games. Washington has given up the most FPG (28.0) to QBs this season but the big question is if his O-line will be able to withstand Washington’s D-line this week.

  • Calvin Ridley is averaging 9.7 targets per game for a 25% share, but his aDOT is sitting at just 9.0 yards so far this season after leading the league in air yards last season. He’s still topped 5+ catches and 50+ yards in each game, and he gets a matchup against a Washington defense that’s giving up the second-most FPG (53.5) to WRs so far.

  • Kyle Pitts is averaging just 8.3 FPG (TE15) through three weeks despite running the fourth-most routes (104) at the position. He posted a miserable 2/35 receiving on three targets against the Giants with Russell Gage (ankle) out of the lineup, and he saw Lee Smith steal a touchdown. Dawson Knox posted 4/49/1 receiving in this matchup last week.

  • Cordarrelle Patterson posted season-highs in touches (13), scrimmage yards (102), and snap share (42%) against the Giants. He’s posted just 14/31/1 rushing the last two weeks but he’s turned his 14 targets into 11/140/1 receiving in that same span. Washington is giving up just 2.7 catches and 15.7 receiving yards per game to RBs in the early going.

  • Mike Davis saw a season-low 60% snap share last week but he still got to 16 touches for the third straight games. He’s yet to find the end zone and he’s scored between 10.2-13.3 FP in his first three games. Zack Moss posted 13/60 rushing and 3/31/1 receiving in this matchup last week.

Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies

Washington

Week 1-3 – Pace (seconds in between plays): 25.5 (3rd)

Week 1-3 – Plays per game: 58.7 (26th)

Week 1-3 – Pass: 57.5% (23rd) | Run: 42.5% (10th)

Falcons

Week 1-3 – Pace: 27.4 (12th)

Week 1-3 – Plays per game: 67.7 (10th)

Week 1-3 – Pass: 67.3% (5th) | Run: 32.7% (28th)

Pace Points

The Falcons ended their 7-game losing streak with a last second FG to sneak out a win on the road against the Giants, but the markets aren’t giving Atlanta any respect this week as 1.5-point home dogs to Washington. This is despite the fact that The Team is starting their backup QB and their defense has really struggled out of the gates, allowing a score on a whopping 59.4% of their drives – which easily leads the league. The markets just have no faith in Atlanta… and who can blame them? The Falcons have struggled mightily ATS at home (as Brolley noted), so this should be a game where Washington gets a positive game-script and Antonio Gibson an opportunity to greatly improve upon the mediocre 15 and 13 touches he got in Weeks 2-3.

Huber’s Key Matchup Notes

Finally! It’s a good matchup for Terry McLaurin. While Falcon CB Fabian Moreau has some interesting — and positive — statistical marks, I think he’s mostly benefited from opposing QBs not targeting his side of the field. I think this is the week that changes. Taylor Heinicke typically likes to target the slot, but the Falcons have gotten some very strong play out of slot CB Isaiah Oliver, which could lead to more looks for McLaurin. The Falcons mix up their coverage shells under Dean Pees, but they have some similarities to the Giants, which McLaurin toasted for 11/107/1 in Week 2.

I never would’ve predicted recommending Cordarrelle Patterson at any point. While reinventing himself as a RB took a couple seasons, it seems to finally be paying off, to Patterson’s credit. Patterson currently leads all RBs with 1.36 FPs/touch and 3.92 yard per route run. He might only see 12 touches/game, but he still leads all RBs in touch rate when he’s on the field. Whereas Washington has limited opposing RBs to the seventh-fewest FPG (16.5), Patterson aligns enough outside of the tackles to take advantage of the Football Team giving up the second-most FPG to opposing WR units, and motioning him out will potentially get him matched up on rookie LB Jamin Davis, a matchup QB Matt Ryan will certainly like.

Dolan’s Vantage Points

It probably says something about the Falcons’ chances this year that they’ve built an offense around Cordarrelle Patterson and Mike Davis in the Year of Our Lord 2021, but that doesn’t change the fact that Patterson is really answering the bell in his first season as a full-time running back. The Falcons’ coaching staff has certainly noticed, as Davis’ snap number has declined in every game from Weeks 1-3: 54 > 46 > 37. Meanwhile, Patterson’s snaps have remained stagnant: 24 > 24 > 26.

Here’s the full list of RBs with more targets than Patterson (16) so far: Najee Harris, D’Andre Swift, Chase Edmonds, Christian McCaffrey, Kenyan Drake, and — believe it or not — Davis. With Matt Ryan exhibiting more and more of a popgun arm every week, checkdowns to the dynamic Patterson might be one of the Falcons’ most explosive offensive plays. Patterson has run 39 routes, which is just 32nd among RBs, but he’s third in receiving yards at the position (153). In overall scoring, he’s 9th at the position. Not bad for a guy who is playing a new position. He’s earned a bigger role. He’s an RB2 and Davis a FLEX against The Team, which is ceding the 7th-fewest fantasy points to RBs this year.

Why isn’t TE Kyle Pitts producing? Well, the good news is that he’s running a route on 81.5% of the Falcons’ passing plays – which is the sixth-highest involvement rate among TEs. The bad news? Pitts isn’t earning targets. He’s been targeted on just 14% of his routes run – which ranks 23rd among TEs and is behind Jordan Akins and Zach Ertz. Meanwhile, Calvin Ridley has been highly involved. His target shares through three games are 23% > 21% > 31%. (Pitts’ target shares are 23% > 12% > 8%.) Ridley’s WR26 overall ranking is disappointing, but his usage is not, and it doesn’t look like Russell Gage (ankle) will play this week again. You’ve gotta ride the train here, as The Team allows the 2nd-most FPG (53.5) to opposing WRs.

Some of the struggles with Ridley and Pitts has to do with Ryan, who has a league-low 4.4 aDOT on throws, down nearly 50% from last year (8.7 aDOT, sixth-highest). But despite Ryan dropping back to pass 39 times last week against the Giants, Pitts wasn’t targeted until the fourth quarter, and he came away with 2/35 receiving on 3 targets. He did have an end-zone target on which he drew a pass interference… which set up a touchdown for #3 TE Lee Smith (sick of this). And a 25-yard reception with about a minute left in the game was the key play that set up Younghoe Koo’s game-winning field goal. Maybe it’s just a blip on the radar, but it’s a little concerning that the Falcons haven’t really gotten Pitts involved in a big way yet. Still, despite just 11 catches and 0 TD through his first three NFL games, he ranks as the TE15 in overall scoring at a wasteland position, so those who used a top-60 pick on Pitts just have to hope the Falcons figure this out sooner rather than later. In good news, Pitts lines up in the slot on 45% of his routes and The Team is giving up 168 yards per game to slot receivers. The time is now for Pitts to blow up.

The Team is giving up the most FPG to QBs this year, but playing Ryan is like running into traffic blindfolded. You might make it across the street cleanly, but I wouldn’t recommend doing it.

Despite Washington getting its doors blown off last week in Buffalo, Taylor Heinicke attempted just 24 throws as Washington couldn’t sustain any drives, with Heinicke chucking two picks and The Team going just 2/11 on third down, running only 50 offensive plays. Only three Teamsters went for more two targets: Terry McLaurin (7), TE Logan Thomas, and slot WR Adam Humphries (4 each). Still, it’s a good matchup for Heinicke, with Atlanta surrendering the 4th-most FPG to opposing QBs this year, so you can convince me he’s stream-worthy, and straight up attractive in 2QB formats.

Atlanta is easily the best matchup McLaurin has seen so far this year. The Falcons are giving up the 13th-most FPG to opposing WRs, and that includes last week against the Giants when two of Daniel Jones’ top-three options, Sterling Shepard and Darius Slayton, left with hamstring injuries. McLaurin’s other matchups this year include the Bills (2nd-fewest), Chargers (5th-fewest), and Giants (15th-fewest). The reason the Giants don’t rank better? It’s McLaurin himself, who torched New York for 11/107/1 in Week 2, with Heinicke starting. Fire him up confidently as a WR1, despite Atlanta expecting CB AJ Terrell (concussion) to return this week.

After last week, Thomas remains the only tight end, wide receiver, or running back in the NFL who has played every offensive snap for his team. Only four TEs have run more routes than Thomas. The production isn’t totally there with Thomas as TE6, but it’s certainly good enough to use him every week. The Falcons have ceded the 6th-most FPG to opposing TEs, and that’s despite Giant TEs combining for just 3 catches and no TDs last week. Thomas is a TE1.

As for the other pass catchers here, the best bet is slot man Humphries, whom Heinicke has targeted on 13 of his 85 throws this year (15%). Though the Falcons have given up 4 TD to slot receivers this year, tied for 2nd in the NFL, their 243 yards given up to inside receivers is 4th-lowest (SIS). Rookie Dyami Brown has actually run more routes than Humphries (90 to 78), but isn’t ready for primetime, turning his 12 targets into 4/32 receiving. Brown will likely lose his workload when Curtis Samuel (groin) comes off IR, which isn’t likely to be this week, but could be soon.

That brings us to the backfield. Poor Antonio Gibson. While his biggest play of the season is a reception — his electric 73-yard screen touchdown last week against Buffalo — the Team is still unwilling to commit to him as a full-time player. In a negative gamescript, Gibson played just 57% of the snaps in Week 3, ceding hurry-up and passing-down work to {JD McKissic|RB|WAS}}. So far, McKissic has run more routes (54 to 50) than Gibson and has significantly outsnapped him on third downs (31 to 6). Fortunately, Washington is back to being a short favorite this week after being a touchdown underdog in Week 3, which lends itself to more Gibson work. He’s a high-end RB2 this week presuming the shin injury that kept him out of practice is as minor as expected, though he’s still not getting the targets and passing work we’d like to see. McKissic is a dart-throw FLEX.

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