DFS blueprint for Patriots-Falcons: Time to trust Mac Jones?

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By Jeff Hicks, 4for4

Special to Yahoo Sports

Yahoo's single-game offering has a roster construction of one "Superstar" that scores at a 1.5 multiplier, while the remaining four FLEX roster spots accumulate points at the normal rate. This is half-point PPR scoring and the "Superstar" salary does not change from the Utility. All scoring and rules can be found here.

It is vital to remember that single-game slates are not simply a “max salary, play as many big names as possible, and submit” format, especially in larger tournament fields. We need to identify players who can be pieces in their offense’s success, whether in the lead or trailing, as well as the players who could be focal points in a neutral game script. The ability to then take those players and identify which will succeed in the single-game format will put us in a better position to succeed as daily fantasy players.

A once-intriguing matchup now looks like a typical Thursday night dump-off game as the New England Patriots travel to Atlanta to take on the flightless Falcons.

Vegas Total and Spread

New England is a 6.5-point road favorite with an over/under of 47 points. The Patriots have an implied team total of 26.75 points, while the Falcons have an implied team total of 20.25 points.

[Visit 4for4, where 92% of subscribers made the playoffs, for more]

Potential Game Flow Scenarios

The collection of players the Falcons have on offense looks like a collection of early 1990’s baseball cards: aesthetically pleasing but offers little in value. Matt Ryan ($26) is throwing the ball to Russell Gage ($12), Olamide Zaccheaus ($11), the resurrected career of Tajae Sharpe ($10), and Kyle Pitts ($17). The offense is missing a lot of firepower with Calvin Ridley, Hayden Hurst, and potentially Cordarrelle Patterson (ankle, $21) out for various reasons. That plus the Falcons having the worst offensive line matchup of Week 11 will make executing on offense a grind.

The running game is also in shambles with Mike Davis ($11) failing to recreate his success from 2020 and waiver wire addition Wayne Gallman ($12) taking away from his workload. The potential loss of Patterson in the backfield takes away the option to run or pass without giving away a play. Davis and Gallman do have pass-catching skills; Gallman caught two passes in garbage time Week 10, and Davis has reception totals of four, five, six (twice), and seven this season. It makes the most sense for both to reach their fantasy floors with passing work.

If either wants to show any running ability, the Patriots are 18th in schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed (aFPA) to the position.

The Patriots have strung together four wins in a row with the help of an improved running game. Rhamondre Stevenson ($21) ran wild without Damien Harris ($21) in Week 10, but Harris is back from concussion protocol. The rich get richer in New England with two capable backs playing behind an offensive line with the best matchup of Week 11. In one game we have the best and worst matchups for offensive lines. Who said Thursday Night Football does not offer something to watch?

Foxborough, MA - October  17: New England Patriots Damien Harris celebrates his direct snap 4 yard touchdown run against the Dallas Cowboys during the first quarter NFL action. The New England Patriots hosted the Dallas Cowboys at Gillette Stadium in Foxborough, MA on October 17, 2021. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)
Damien Harris should get plenty of work against the Falcons in his return from a concussion. (Photo by Matthew J. Lee/The Boston Globe via Getty Images)

Mac Jones ($27) looks like a veteran quarterback more often than not. The rookie is also moving the ball downfield without a true lead wide receiver. Jakobi Meyers ($15), Nelson Agholor ($12), and Kendrick Bourne ($16) are WR1s on maybe one or two other teams in the NFL, but combine to offer the versatility Jones needs when throwing the ball. Jones has also done what the narrative says about rookie QBs: he is targeting the tight end position. Hunter Henry ($19) has touchdowns in six of eight games played and seven overall. Only Tyler Higbee and Noah Fant have more tight end red-zone targets than Henry’s 11. His role in the passing game may be the most important for New England, especially against Atlanta’s improving secondary. A.J. Terrell and Jaylinn Hawkins are among the highest-rated players at cornerback and safety according to Pro Football Focus.

Here’s a brief rundown of which players would likely benefit the most from various game flow scenarios.

[Play in Yahoo's $100K Single Game Baller for NE vs. ATL]

Close, low-scoring game

  • Damien Harris

  • Rhamondre Stevenson

  • Hunter Henry

  • Patriots defense

  • Cordarrelle Patterson (if active)

  • Mike Davis (if Patterson is inactive)

  • Falcons defense

Close, high-scoring game

  • Mac Jones

  • Damien Harris

  • Kendrick Bourne

  • Jakobi Meyers

  • Hunter Henry

  • Matt Ryan

  • Cordarrelle Patterson

  • Russell Gage

  • Olamide Zaccheaus

  • Kyle Pitts

Blowout for home team

  • Matt Ryan

  • Cordarrelle Patterson

  • Mike Davis

  • Russell Gage

  • Olamide Zaccheaus

  • Kyle Pitts

  • Falcons defense

  • Mac Jones

  • Brandon Bolden

  • Hunter Henry

Blowout for road team

  • Mac Jones

  • Damien Harris

  • Rhamondre Stevenson

  • Kendrick Bourne

  • Jakobi Meyers

  • Nelson Agholor

  • Hunter Henry

  • Patriots defense

  • Mike Davis

  • Kyle Pitts

Cheap/Unique Stacking Option

Traditional stacks such as QB/WR1 or WR2, QB/TE, and RB/DEF are stacks seen used in winning lineups. The obvious choice is not always the winning choice. Below is a cheap stack with at least one unique quality that could break the slate.

Damien Harris ($21) and Mike Davis ($11)

This grouping loses some uniqueness if Patterson is inactive. Davis has left a sour taste in a lot of fantasy players' mouths but will be a target in the passing game without No. 84 on the field. Even after Stevenson’s excellent Week 10, it is important to remember he was a healthy scratch multiple times when Harris was healthy. Harris would have to commit multiple turnovers to be concerned about Stevenson’s presence. In a Falcons blowout/leading scenario, Stevenson does have value since Harris is less likely to see the majority of targets out of the backfield.

Low-Salary Volatile Plays

Jonnu Smith ($10)

His shoulder injury and lack of targets are a concern but the Patriots did not sign him to be ornamental on offense. Smith has nine red-zone targets in nine games. Make sure Smith is active before rostering him.

Russell Gage ($12)

The Falcons’ top receiver is also a huge risk. He has two goose eggs in five games played. That said, in those other three games Gage has target totals of eight, six, and seven.

Lee Smith ($10)

One red-zone target. One touchdown. The Falcons utilize two-tight end sets and with Hayden Hurst out, Smith is in line for increased work. Parker Hesse played 35% of snaps in Week 10 while Smith did not play so make sure Smith is active. Hesse is not in the player pool for this contest.

Superstar Picks

Damien Harris ($21)

The Falcons run defense is capital "B" Bad. They allow an average of 112.3 rushing yards, 7.5 receptions, and 57.5 receiving yards per game to opposing running backs. The Dallas Cowboys gave 41 total touches to their running backs in Week 10 in route to scoring 43 points.

Mac Jones ($27)

Jones is a "syrup over the pancakes" play since no one Patriots receiver sticks out as a Superstar option. If you decide to go Pats WR at the Superstar spot, it would be Kendrick Bourne. He is not one of my favorites at that spot.

Mike Davis ($11)

Kyle Pitts is going to be swarmed by the Patriots defense and will be the most popular Falcons Superstar pick for good reason — he is on 4for4's Week 11 Breakout Receiver model and an excellent player. Davis at Superstar makes sense in a Patriots onslaught if Cordarrelle Patterson misses this game.

Hunter Henry ($19)

Touchdown upside ranks very high in all scoring formats but matters more in half-point PPR than full-point. Henry’s red-zone usage is elite and while his touchdown hot streak is not sustainable, it is more likely to stay this week with how Henry is deployed.

SuperStar Punt Picks

Kendrick Bourne, Russell Gage, Rhamondre Stevenson, and Patriots defense.

This article originally appeared in its full form on 4for4.com

Jeff has played fantasy sports since 2001. He has covered fantasy and traditional sports at the pro, semi-pro, and amateur level for the better part of a decade. Born in Illinois and currently living where James Robinson made a name for himself in college, Jeff enjoys running (establish it), followed by doing absolutely nothing.

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