Atlanta Falcons Team Outlook
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Falcons Offense Outlook
Atlanta finished as a top passing team in 2018, but their run game didn’t come along for the ride. They ran the only 36.3 percent of the time with plenty of passing yards and passing TDs. Their additions to the offensive line should bold well for more growth in this offense in 2019.
After attempting 627 passes per season from 2012 to 2015, Ryan saw his passing opportunity drop by more than 15 percent over the next two seasons. In 2016, he overcame his drop in passing attempts (534) by gaining a league and a career-high 9.3 yards per pass attempt. Last year game score and a weaker run game led to a rebound in passing attempts (608) plus his best results in passing yards (4,924), passing TDs (35), and completion rate (69.4). Matt passed for over 300 yards in eight games while picking up three TDs or more in eight games.
Ryan finished as the second highest scoring QB while being a value on draft day. Ryan has an excellent WR1 in Julio Jones, and Calvin Ridley turned into a playmaker with high value in scoring. The Falcons have a pass catching ability at RB plus a TE with developing upside. Atlanta would love to be more balanced on offense, but they won’t overlook their talent in the passing game. A safe bet for 4.800+ passing yards with a floor of two TDs per game. His upside and downside are tied to the success of the run game. If the Falcons run the ball well in the red zone, their rushing TDs will restrict some of their in close TDs.
Other Options: Matt Schaub, Kurt Benkert
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From 2015 to 2017, Freeman has 35 TDs in his 45 games played while rushing for over 1,000 yards in 2015 (1,056) and 2016 (1,079). For some reason, the Falcons lowered his opportunity in the passing game (36/317/1) despite gaining more yards per catch (7.9 in 2015, 8.6 in 2016, and 8.8 in 2017) in each year in the league. In 2017, Devonta missed a pair of games with a concussion issue. Last year Freeman suffered a right knee injury in mid-January, which didn’t require surgery. Unfortunately, his season started with a right knee injury followed by four missed games. In Week 5, Devonta suffered a foot injury that ultimately ended his season. He finished with only 91 combined yards with five catches on 19 touches.
Over his previous 45 games, Freeman averaged 96.8 yards with 0.78 TDs and 3.6 catches per game or about 17 Fantasy points per game. The loss of Tevin Coleman in this offense opens up the door for Devonta to be the RB1 again in 2019. In 2017, the Falcons’ RBs gained 2,356 combined yards with 67 catches and 16 TDs with regression last year (1,919 combined yards with 68 catches and 13 TDs). I expect Freeman to receiver a minimum of 18 touches per game leading to 1,350+ combined yards with double-digit TDs and 50+ catches or a solid RB2.
Atlanta gave Smith 117 touches in his rookie season after losing Devonta Freeman for the season. He gained 467 combined yards with four TDs and 27 catches while gaining only 3.5 yards per rush and 5.6 yards per catch.
Over four season at Southern Mississippi, Smith gained 5,498 combined yards with 49 TDs and 140 catches. He averaged 18.8 touches per game in his college career with three seasons with 40 catches or more. Ito gained 10.3 yards per catch in his college. Smith showed acceleration through the line of scrimmage if their daylight while also showing patience to find his seem to the second level of the defense. In the open field, Ito has a series of stutter steps, and shoulder fakes to make defenders miss. When tested one-on-one with his long speed, he shows a nice stiff arm to finish runs. His lack of size (5’9’ and 195 lbs.) hurt his value when running in tight space with no exit plan. His hands grade well, and Smith knows what to do when the ball is in his hand.
Tough to get excited based on his lack of success in 2018, but his college resume and scouting report paint him as higher level back. Possible 150+ touches for 700+ yards and a handful of TDs and 30+ catches while being a top insurance card in this offense.
Other Options: Qadree Ollison, Brian Hill, Kenjon Barner, Tony Brooks-James, Marcus Green
Fantasy owners won’t fight for Jones due to underlying injury risk. His draft day snub was a mistake in 2018, which led to a league-high in receiving yards (1,677) while finishing with his second best year in catches (113) and targets (170). Julio made progress in TDs (8) leading to the fourth-most Fantasy points (327.90) in PPR league at wide receiver. Jones caught seven or more passes in nine games while gaining over 100 yards nine games, which included six straight games. He’s now played a full season in back-to-back years with over 1,000 yards in six seasons.
For his career, Julio averages 6.3 catches for 97 yards and 0.46 TDs per game. Top tier WR who will rank in the top five in the NFL targets if he plays a full season. His starting point is 100+ catches for 1,500+ yards and eight to ten TDs.
There was a lot to like about Ridley in his rookie season. After posting a zero in Week 1 on two targets, Calvin played well in Week 2 (4/64/1) before exploding the following game (7/146/3). The next game he caught four balls for 54 yards and two more TDs. From that point on, Ridley was a tough play in the Fantasy market due to inconsistent chances. Over his last 12 games, Calvin caught 49 of his 71 targets for 557 yards and four TDs while producing only three more games of value (6/71/1, 8/93/1, and 3/90/1).
Ridley has a strange resume over three seasons at Alabama. His best season came in his rookie year in 2015 (89/1045/7) when he worked almost like a possession type WR based on his yards per catch (11.7). The next season Calvin saw his catches (72), receiving yards (769), and yard per catch (10.7) regress while scoring eight TDs. In 2017, he turned more into a big play WR (63/967/5) while gaining 15.3 yards per catch. His route running and separation skill will lead to instant success at the next level. Calvin comes with a smooth glide in the open field with a gear to blow by defenders with or without the ball.
This season he should start all 16 games (only five games in 2018) pointing to 80+ catches for 1,100+ yards and a run again at double-digit TDs. Last year the Falcons’ WRs caught 273 passes for 3,680 yards and 25 TDs on 400 targets.
Other Options: Justin Hardy, Russell Gage, Christian Blake, Devin Gray, Shawn Bane, Kahlil Lewis
After failing to make an impact in his first two years (19/271/3 and 49/526/3) in the NFL, Hooper became Fantasy relevant in 2018. He caught 71 of his 88 targets for 660 yards and four TDs placing him 6th in TE scoring. His catch rate (80.&) was elite with success as well in 2017 (75.4). His next step is adding more yards per catch (9.3). Last year he failed to gain over 80 yards in any game with his best success coming in three games (9/77, 9/71/1, and 10/56/1) while failing to receiver over five targets in ten other games. The Falcons completed 85 passes for 799 yards and five TDs on 104 targets in 2018. Backend TE1 with a chance at further growth in production. Next step: 75+ balls for 750+ yards and a handful of TDs.
Other Options: Luke Stocker, Logan Paulsen, Eric Saubert, Jaeden Graham, Alex Gray
After a long successful career in Atlanta, Matt Bryant was let go in the offseason. They signed Tavecchio as his replacement or a possible place holder if a better option becomes available over the summer. In his only season in the NFL, Giorgio made 76.2 percent of his 21 field goals with one missed extra point in 34 chances. As a fill in for the Falcons in 2018, he made all 13 of kicks while adding to his success from long range (5-for-6). Last year Atlanta scored 49 TDs while creating only 26 field goal chances. A possible value at kicker if he does indeed keep the starting job all year.
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