Over the course of the summer, I'm going to be taking a look at the offenses of all 32 NFL teams. We'll be taking a look at the QB, RB, WR, and TE positions for each team. Enjoy!
Regression. Disappointment. Unimpressive. All words to describe the 2017 Atlanta Falcons, particularly the offense.
After scoring the most points in the league during the 2016-17 season, Atlanta took a huge step back, scoring just the 15th most in 2017-18. They ended up making the divisional round, but were obviously not the same team they once were.
The main reason for that is Steve Sarkisian, who led the team to their mediocre offensive year after Kyle Shanahan took them to the top in 2016-17. With minimal change on offense, let's take a look at how the Falcons offense looks heading into the year.
2018 Fantasy Football Atlanta Falcons Preview
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— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) June 7, 2018
Nobody was affected by the Shanahan/Sarkisian transition more than Matt Ryan. Ryan went from the 2017 NFL MVP to average in the majority of statistical categories. He wasn't playing bad, but never really played an elite game. Matt Ryan threw for over 4,000 yards, but managed only 20 touchdowns. For reference, Tom Brady threw 32 TD's last year. Ryan was ranked 27th best in the league by Pro Football Focus, yet managed only the 14th most fantasy points for quarterbacks.
Looking ahead to 2018, Matt Ryan will be better. He's thrown for 4,000 yards every year since 2010 and has established himself as one of the top QB's in the league. Sarkisian is not the long-term answer in Atlanta, however, he will be much better this season. I believe Ryan will see an uptick in touchdowns this year and reassert himself as a top-tier QB. For fantasy terms, I'd put Ryan in the 10-15 range.
Tevin Coleman's yards after contact average has been trending up! pic.twitter.com/DXKkCXYlq6
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) May 19, 2018
The Falcon backs suffered from the OC change too, but not as seriously. Tevin Coleman plays a significant role in the offense, but the main work goes to Devonta Freeman. Freeman dealt with a concussion, missing two games, but was able to compile over 1,000 yards of total offense and eight touchdowns.
Coleman also scored eight touchdowns, but totaled only 455 yards of total offense. In fantasy football, Freeman managed a top-15 season, while Coleman was top-25.
Ito Smith, the rookie from Southern Miss, is a guy I like, but Freeman and Coleman are both very good too and there aren't enough touches for the three of them. Heading into 2018, I like Freeman in the 10-15 range and Coleman in the 25-30 range.
— Pro Football Focus (@PFF) February 10, 2018
Julio Jones had a down year, for his standards. He only scored three touchdowns! He had the second most receiving yards in the league and could've had way more had it not been for many dropped passes. But, that doesn’t mean he’s not a top-5 receiver in the NFL. Any receiving group with Julio Jones is a good one, especially with the addition of Calvin Ridley.
Ridley, who ran a 4.44 40-yard dash, should see a ton of work from the slot. Ridley was one of college football’s best receivers and should be ready to roll alongside former Alabama WR Julio Jones. Rounding out the corps is Mohamed Sanu.
Sanu doesn’t bring anything incredible to the table but is a good receiver, catching 67 balls for 703 yards and five touchdowns in 2017. The WR production depends almost entirely on the production of Matt Ryan, but I think Julio has eight-plus touchdowns and Ridley and Sanu each have at least 500 yards.
Austin Hooper has had some big moments across his two seasons. pic.twitter.com/JKqRKKrzX3
— PFF Fantasy Football (@PFF_Fantasy) June 12, 2018
Some teams significantly involve their tight ends, and others barely use them. The Falcons fall somewhere in the middle of that.
Austin Hooper had the 15th most receiving yards of tight ends last year. He's certainly shown promise, catching an 88-yard touchdown against Chicago last year, but I don't see him breaking out this year.
There are many other weapons on the Falcons and I don't see them significantly changing the gameplan to get Hooper involved. All things considered, he's in the upper-half of NFL tight ends.
The Falcons have one of the most talented offenses in the league, but they will be handicapped by Steve Sarkisian. Overall, this is a top-10 unit that should do much better this year.
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