New England Patriots (6-4, 6-4 ATS) at Atlanta Falcons (4-5, 4-5), 8:20 p.m.
Brolley’s Patriots Stats and Trends
The Patriots have won and covered in four straight games.
New England is covering in style too, with a pair of covers by 30+ points in that span and they own an average cover margin of 22.5 points in their four-game streak.
New England has played over the total in five of its last six games.
Damien Harris had been running hot with rushing touchdowns and double-digit FP in five straight games in Weeks 5-9. A concussion kept him from extending his streak in Week 10, and he could have more competition for touches as soon has he’s ready to return to the lineup after rookie Rhamondre Stevenson went off for 20/100/2 rushing and 4/14 receiving as the team’s lead runner in a blowout victory over the Browns. Stevenson has earned more chances for playing with 100+ scrimmage yards in consecutive games so Harris could be stuck in more of a committee than his owners want to see. Brandon Bolden has totaled 151 scrimmage yards on just 16 touches over the last two weeks if he’s needed again this week. Ezekiel Elliott (17/56/2 scrimmage) and Tony Pollard (17/98) each posted 15+ FP in this matchup last week.
Mac Jones led touchdown drives on five of his seven series against the Browns, and he led scoring drives on six of his seven chances. He’s coming off of his first three-touchdown performance in Week 10, completing 19/23 passes for 198 yards (8.6 YPA) and three scores. Dak Prescott carved up the Falcons 296/2 passing on just 31 attempts (9.5 YPA) last week.
Jakobi Meyers found paydirt in his 39th game as he had an NFL-record 131 catches and 1522 yards without a touchdown entering Week 10. He now has 4+ catches in 9-of-10 games, but he’s fallen below 50 receiving yards in five straight games. Meyers will look to start a touchdown-scoring streak, and primary slot WR CeeDee Lamb scored two TDs against Atlanta last week.
Kendrick Bourne has seen 4+ targets in four straight games, and he’s topped 14+ FP in three of his last five games after securing all four of his targets for 98 yards and a touchdown last week. The Falcons are giving up the second-most touchdowns per game (1.4) to WRs.
Hunter Henry hasn’t reached 40+ yards in five straight games, but he’s run off seven TDs in his last seven games and he’s tied with Randall Cobb (of all players) with a league-best eight end-zone targets in that span. He played a season-high 82% of the snaps last week with Jonnu Smith (shoulder) out of the lineup. The Falcons have given up just one touchdown to TEs in their last seven games.
Brolley’s Falcons Stats and Trends
Atlanta has played under the total in five straight Thursday games.
The Falcons 1-3 ATS at home this season and 4-8 ATS at home since 2020.
Cordarrelle Patterson (ankle) is out for at least this week, which leaves this backfield to Mike Davis and Wayne Gallman. Davis has scored fewer than three FP in three of his last four games after posting just 4/18 rushing in their blowout loss last week. Gallman saw his first extended look with the Falcons with 16/76 scrimmage against the Cowboys, but 14 of his touches came after the Falcons threw in the towel when they were trailing by five scores. The Patriots are giving up 4.3 YPC and the third-most receiving yards per game (65.1) to RBs this season.
The Falcons are down to Kyle Pitts at the skill positions and that’s about it after Patterson went down with a high-ankle sprain last week. Pitts has reached 60+ yards in four of his last five games while averaging 7.6 targets per game in that span, but he’s found the end zone just once this season. Bill Belichick will be determined to wipe Pitts out this week, and the Patriots are giving up just 2.9/29.5 receiving per game to TEs this season.
Matt Ryan completed just 9/21 passes (42.9%) for 117 yards (5.6 YPA) with the Falcons mustering just three points and just 4.0 yards per play against the Cowboys. He’s now fallen below nine FP in two of his last three games, and he’s down to just Pitts in terms of viable weapons with Patterson and Calvin Ridley out of the lineup. The Patriots have limited quarterbacks to fewer than 16 FP in four straight games.
Falcons WRs combined for 3/36 receiving on 14 targets last week against the Cowboys. Russell Gage led the group with 18 routes but he went catchless on three targets, followed by Tajae Sharpe (17 routes, no catches) and Olamide Zaccheaus (15, 2/22 receiving). The Patriots are giving up the seventh-fewest FPG (31.4) to RBs.
Barfield’s Pace and Tendencies
Pace (seconds in between plays): 28.3 (27th)
Plays per game: 66.5 (18th)
Pass: 57.1% (25th) | Run: 42.9% (8th)
Pace: 26.3 (9th)
Plays per game: 64.3 (26th)
Pass: 62.3% (11th) | Run: 37.7% (22nd)
All pace / play data is from the last eight weeks.
While the Patriots don’t have a single elite fantasy option that we can trust, their offense as a whole has been excellent. New England has now scored a TD or FG on 47.6% of their possessions, which is second-best behind only the Bills (49.5%) on the season. OC Josh McDaniels’ game-plan last week against Cleveland was a thing of beauty as the Patriots ripped the Browns on the ground and used a heavy dose of play-action en route to putting 45 points on the board. The Pats’ have now scored 24 or more points in six-straight games and obviously have a great chance to make it seven-straight here against this Falcons defense that was just shredded for 5 TDs by the Cowboys. As large touchdown favorites on the road, I’m expecting a run-heavy plan from the Patriots and that has a direct connection to Mac Jones’ volume. In the Patriots six wins, Jones has averaged just 30.3 pass attempts per game and he’s jumped to 39.8 attempts/game in their four losses.
Meanwhile, the Falcons are short-handed on this short week. Even if he’s able to suit up, Cordarrelle Patterson is likely to be limited and with Bill Belichick likely to focus on Kyle Pitts – it’s going to leave Matt Ryan in a precarious spot in terms of weaponry. We saw their offense bottom out last week and the only way this game shoots out is if the Falcons can find a way to get off of the mat. If the Patriots build a lead and stick to the ground game, this game could be ugly from a pace and play perspective.
Huber’s Key Matchup Notes
Can we really look past a TE that has scored seven TDs in his last seven games? No other TE has even scored six. Hunter Henry is fifth this season with 0.45 FP/Rt. That said, we obviously need to hand-select his matchups. Over the last three weeks, Deion Jones has been torched for a combined 18/219/0 line on 22 targets. It accounts for a portion of the Falcons surrendering the eighth-most FPG to TEs during the last four weeks (14.0). This looks like a good spot for Henry.
Jakobi Meyers finally scored his first TD. After four games with target shares north of 25% during the first six games, he’s only collected more than 20% once during the last four. However, he will work against a Falcon’s defense attempting to survive without the stellar slot play of Isaiah Oliver. Avery Williams’ coverage numbers do not qualify, but would place at the very bottom of slot CBs if they did.
If Atlanta is without Cordarrelle Patterson due to his sprained ankle, another blowout could be on deck. If Patterson is out, Mike Davis could surrender the carry lead to Wayne Gallman Jr. Not that it’ll matter. New England is limiting opposing RBs to the sixth-fewest pure rushing FPG this season (10.5). Without Patterson, it would be considerably better for Davis to forego the rushing volume in this spot so that he can focus on recapturing his receiving chops. The Pats are accrediting the fifth-most pure receiving FPG to backs (13.9).
Dolan’s Vantage Points
One of my focuses for the Patriots this week is on touchdowns.
First of all, WR Jakobi Meyers has done it. He’s scored! On his 135th career reception, he got into the end zone last week against the Browns, ending his NFL record scoreless streak to start a career.
The Falcons have actually allowed far more production to outside WRs than slot receivers this year, but they got crushed by CeeDee Lamb in a primary slot role last week. That’s where Meyers mostly aligns.
On the flip side, Hunter Henry does nothing but score TDs. After scoring twice against Cleveland, Henry now has 7 TD receptions on the season, all in his last seven games. In just one of those seven games has he reached 40 yards receiving. On the season, he has just 31/353/7 receiving. He’s on pace for 12 receiving TD, with just 600 receiving yards. It seems unsustainable, but at the TE position, you have to roll with “unsustainable” because you’re actually getting some level of production.
#Patriots Hunter Henry is on pace for 12 receiving TD... with just 600 receiving yards. That would be the second-fewest receiving yards in NFL history with 12 or more receiving TD.— Joe Dolan (@FG_Dolan) November 16, 2021
Julius Thomas has 12 TD on just 489 receiving yards (!) in 2014... and in just 13 games.
By the way… our guy Jake Tribbey likes Mac Jones as a streamer this week if you just need a floor option.
Mac Jones, QB, Patriots (per @PFF)— Scott Barrett (@ScottBarrettDFB) November 15, 2021
+ Highest-graded QB since Week 5 (91.2)
+ Highest-graded rookie QB since 2014 (87.0)
+ Earned a 95.8 PFF Grade in 2020, the highest they've ever awarded to a QB since they started grading NCAA players in 2014
“Jones has been playing outstanding football over the last 6 weeks. While that’s translated to great PFF grades, it hasn’t exactly turned into outstanding fantasy production, as Jones has averaged just 14.3 FPG since Week 5, good for the QB23 over that stretch. Low-end QB2 production isn’t something I love to chase after when streaming, but Jones' outstanding play should pave the way to a potentially more pass heavy approach from New England going forward, and arguably more important, the Pats are facing a rather dysfunctional Atlanta defense in Week 11.
The Falcons have given up the 4th-most FPG to opposing QBs (21.2), rank dead last in PFF pass rush grades (56.4), and rank 5th-worst in PFF coverage grades (47.6). With the only somewhat competent part of the Atlanta defense being their ability to stuff the run, I’m expecting New England to take full advantage of the Falcons through the air. While I don’t consider Jones to have a compelling ceiling (career high 22.2 fantasy points), this matchup absolutely lifts him into the mid-range QB2 conversation, and that makes him a viable streaming candidate in 12+ team leagues. If you just need a QB fill-in who won’t ruin your week, Jones fits that bill as a low-risk, relatively low-reward option. “
The big key for the Patriots is the return of RB Damien Harris, who cleared protocol and will play on Wednesday after missing Week 10. In his stead, rookie Rhamondre Stevenson was outrageously good, and likely has earned some more looks. But Stevenson also has had stints in Bill Belichick’s doghouse this year. If Harris plays, both backs are FLEX options, with the high likelihood the Pats look to establish a hot hand. If Brandon Bolden (hip) can’t play, it raises the floor and ceiling for both.
The Falcons are coming off a complete stinker against the Cowboys, and I am usually loathe to take too much away from games like that, but the Falcons are now at a spot where they just don’t have much for Matt Ryan to work with here. And now they might be down perhaps their most effective player this year, RB Cordarrelle Patterson, who is dealing with an ankle injury. Coach Arthut Smith called Patterson a game-time decision on Wednesday. I’d be surprised if he plays, but if he does, his role is likely to be limited and I’m downgrading him to a FLEX.
If Patterson doesn’t play, I don’t consider Mike Davis or Wayne Gallman as anything more than prayer FLEX plays, while TE Kyle Pitts is a must-start despite his inconsistent performance (he has just 1 TD on the year… despite having more yards now than his counterpart in this game, Henry, is on pace for). Of course, Pitts is a lock to get the Bill Belichick treatment, which could make him a DFS fade.
FWIW, Smith downplayed Gallman’s involvement last week, so Davis is my preferred back of the two.
#Falcons HC Arthur Smith basically said Wayne Gallman's Week 10 usage was due to the scoreboard and the quick turnaround to Thursday night.— Jared Smola (@SmolaDS) November 17, 2021
“We know we have to play Thursday, so that’s why you saw a heavy dose of (backup quarterback Josh) Rosen and Gallman and the other guys." https://t.co/vsdEbeSXES
It’s also really hard to commit to top WR Russell Gage, who needs to step up in the absence of Calvin Ridley, but has been held catchless in two of his last three games. Perhaps Tajae Sharpe could step up as well.