Take Two Week 13: E.J. Manuel vs Matt Ryan
November 30, 2013 | Joe Siniscalchi
Last week was a strange week for quarterbacks, but a great week for two quarterback leagues. Players like Alex Smith, Ryan Fitzpatrick, Josh McCown, and Carson Palmer all put up numbers you want from your first quarterback, while players like Peyton Manning, Andrew Luck, and RGIII failed to play at an elite level. Bye weeks are finally behind us, and many of you are playing for a playoff spot or possibly even a bye, so you’ll need to get the most out of every player this week.
Case Keenum struggled mightily last week against the Jaguars (I’m still wondering how it’s possible). He had zero time to throw the ball, and when he was faced with blitzes, he often seemed flabbergasted. He failed to throw a touchdown, and surely delivered one of the most disappointing games this season. Eli Manning was anything but amazing, but churned out a solid fantasy day, as he threw for under 200 yards for the third time this season with two touchdowns and no turnovers to salvage the day.
This week I’m going with a rookie who quietly has had a decent season, and is poised to have his best game of the season.
JS: My Candidate For Week 13: E.J. Manuel (vs Atl)
E.J. Manuel has had good games this season against good defenses. He threw for nearly 300 yards against the Panthers, and played well in two games against the Jets. Not counting the game against the Browns where he was injured his knee and missed the next month, he has been averaging almost 17 fantasy points a contest, solid but not great numbers. Coming off a bye, the Bills are the healthiest they have been since the beginning of the season, and are set to play one of the most injury riddled teams in the league.
Quarterbacks going against an atrocious Atlanta Falcons defense have often been featured on Take Two, and at this point they’ve become an automatic plug and play for streamers. In other words, anyone playing Atlanta is a good bet to benefit you. The Falcons defense is so bad, Football Outsiders has them ranked as the 31st against the pass, and they’ve surrendered 23 scores through the air along with just six interceptions. A two touchdown per game average? I’ll gladly take two scores for my second quarterback in such a pivotal week. Manuel will also have plenty of time to throw, as Cordy Glenn is a developing into a solid tackle and will face against a defense that has the fourth fewest sacks in the league.
What Manuel has going for him most is a healthy offense. CJ Spiller appears to be over his ankle woes, and wideouts Stevie Johnson and Robert Woods are set to play after missing time. A combination of a healthy Spiller and Fred Jackson will free up plenty of room outside for Manuel’s receivers to operate, and Marquise Goodwin (81 yards and a score vs the Jets) provides just another toy for him to use. With so many players returning from injury and coming off the bye, I expect the Bills to be aggressive on offense and get everyone back in the mix. Manuel’s willingness to run should sneak in a few points as well for fantasy owners, as he’s topped 20 rushing yards four times so far this season.
This game is the perfect recipe for a Manuel breakout, and I even think he gets his first rushing score here. 300/2/0 and 20 yards and a rushing score would be a great day for Manuel owners and those who can use production from their second starter.
AO: My Candidate For Week 13: Matt Ryan (@ Buf)
Case Keenum and Eli Manning both disappointed fantasy owners last week. Keenum’s game was far less impressive though. You want more than 15 points from your quarterback but it isn’t a catastrophic number, six points is though.
We have an interesting matchup this week as our two picks will face off against one another. I’m not sure if it’s worked out that way so far this season, it should make things pretty interesting.
At the start of the season I was convinced that Matty Ice was going to be a Top Five QB. He had elite weapons at wide receiver and tight end, and they added a pass catching running back in Steven Jackson. He has been a far cry from Top Five, especially since Week 8. Through the first seven weeks of the season he played well despite his team playing so poorly. Since then he’s been pretty terrible, throwing for more than one touchdown just once. This will be the week that he picks it back up. I can just feel it.
Buffalo’s defense hasn’t been terrible, they have a good pass rush and their secondary has been improving. Even so they’re still a middle of the pack defense and their secondary is definitely beatable. Their schedule has included games against Geno Smith, Matt Simms, Alex Smith, and Brandon Weeden…not exactly elite quarterbacks.
This won’t be a shootout but the Falcons should still be playing from behind causing Matt Ryan to throw the ball at least 40 times. He’s already thrown for 300-plus yards five times (and 292 once) this season. I see no reason why this week won’t be number six.
I expect him to throw for 325 yards and a pair of touchdowns, if he manages not to turn the ball over that’s a great game. Even if he throws a pick or two you’re still looking at about 20 points, I’ll take that all day long. Heck, maybe they’ll even pull off a win.
JS: I couldn’t disagree more here with Anthony this week. Buffalo is a team that has quietly improved on defense as the season has progressed. After a poor start to the season, the Bills now lead the league in interceptions and are one sack away from the league lead. They also allow the 12th fewest passing yards per game in the league. Mario Williams has 11 sacks on the year and Mike Pettine’s defense has finally come to form.
Matt Ryan has struggled so much with an injury ravaged offense, by now every knows this. While Steven Jackson, Roddy White, and Tony Gonzalez are back, they clearly aren’t at 100%. I personally believe Ryan and the Falcons offense as a whole will play better to end the season, but not just yet. While the Falcons have only allowed 24 sacks, the play of the offensive line has not been strong. As Football Outsiders points out, they rank 21st in the league with an adjusted sack rate of 7.8%.
Hugh Douglas has stepped up in the wake of all these injuries, but I still can’t see Ryan delivering a great game against a hot Bills defense with his star players still not at 100%. The offensive line has been a work in progress all season, and will be going against a stout line featuring Kyle Williams and Marcell Dareus that have a combined seven sacks on the year. I love Matt Ryan, but he’s shown this season when his supporting cast isn’t 100%, neither is he. Since week eight, Ryan has thrown for nine interceptions, five touchdowns, and hasn’t topped 300 yards passing. He has played some of the top defenses in the league, and is up against another difficult matchup this week.
Ryan’s struggles will continue Sunday, as he throws for 260 yards to keep up, but throws one touchdown and has two turnovers against a defense that knows how to make big plays.
AO: The Falcons defense hasn’t been pretty this season, and that’s being kind. But E.J. Manuel hasn’t been either. He’s averaging less than 200 yards per game, and he’s failed to top 300 yards in his young career. I expect them to rely heavily on their running backs, especially if they jump out to an early lead.
Back to the Falcons. They’ve actually improved against quarterbacks as the season has progressed. Since allowing 316 yards to Tom Brady way back in Week 4 they haven’t allowed any quarterbacks to gash them too terribly. Whether that’s because they’re already losing and teams revert to running the ball or because they’ve improved on defense is irrelevant. They’re still allowing fewer fantasy points per game, and that’s all that matters.
E.J. hasn’t wowed me to this point and I don’t expect that to change much this week, even if they are playing the Falcons. 250 yards and two touchdowns should be about his ceiling. I don’t think he’ll turn the ball over more than once so that isn’t an issue, I just don’t think he’ll throw the ball more than 30 times. Volume leads to fantasy glory and Matt Ryan will get plenty of it.