Welcome to the 2020 Fantasy Football Atlanta Falcons Preview.
This team is loaded with offensive talent and has been for years. However, the defense has been sub-par the last two seasons which has led them to two consecutive 7-9 seasons. Vegas does not think they improve much though as they are tied for 18th with +4000 odds to win the Super Bowl. You can check out these NJ betting sites to place your Super Bowl bets.
Although last season finished strong, they won six of their final eight games after starting 1-7. I'd say a lot of this was due to a lot of coaching staff changes, most importantly the promotion of Raheem Morris to defensive coordinator.
After that change, the defense drastically improved in many categories including
- Takeaways (32nd in NFL in the first-half, 2nd most in the second-half)
- Sacks (32nd to 10th)
- Scoring Efficiency (32nd to 9th)
- Red Zone Efficiency (31st to 6th)
If the defense can continue that, then this team could be looking at a very good season in 2020.
2020 Fantasy Football Atlanta Falcons Preview
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Lowest rate of negatively graded plays among QBs since 2006
1. Drew Brees
2. Patrick Mahomes
3. Russell Wilson
4. Matt Ryan pic.twitter.com/hxl1Ob7rIO
— PFF (@PFF) May 17, 2020
Ryan has been one of the more reliable quarterbacks in the last decade, plus. This is not just from a performance standpoint, I'm mostly referring to his availability.
I was actually surprised at how available he has been in his career given the number of sacks he takes, as he has missed just three total games in his career.
Matt Ryan has had a few seasons of over 30 touchdown passes, but mostly he finishes in the mid-to-high 20's. The projections for the Falcons that Keith Lott created have him finishing with 4,372 passing yards and 27 touchdowns. I can get on board with that, even though that means his passing yards will drop from 2019. The hope is they can run the ball a lot better with Todd Gurley in town. And with that we move onto the Falcons Running Backs.
Todd Gurley II season grades:
2019: 67.0 pic.twitter.com/KBTtYoSAal
— PFF (@PFF) March 20, 2020
Last year was a terrible year running the football for the Falcons. They ranked 30th in total yards and tied for 29th in attempts. Still, free agent Devonta Freeman was not good last year finishing with a 3.6 yards per carry.
The Falcons have moved on and decided to bring in superstar Todd Gurley. Once, the premier running back in the NFL for the Rams, knee issues have slowed down Gurley the last couple of seasons. I think it is an upgrade from Freeman to Gurley, but I'm not sure it is as big of one as the Falcons are hoping for.
In 2019 Gurley was being managed a bit by the Rams, so he saw 14.8 carries per game. That was down from his usual load of 18+ per game. He also saw considerably less work in the passing game. 49 total targets compared to 80+ the previous two seasons.
Gurley may never be the same running back ever again, but he can at least be another weapon in the red zone for this team. All 12 of Gurley's touchdowns last season came inside the 20. To break it down even further, 10 of them were from inside the 10. His touchdown potential is keeping him ranked in the top-15 of running backs according to our Staff Rankings.
Brian Hill and Ito Smith will likely not be valuable unless Gurley misses time. Which of course is highly likely given his knee issues. That said, my prediction is when/if Gurley misses time, Hill and Smith will be in a near 50/50 committee. Also, the offense will go back to relying heavily on the pass diminishing the value of Hill and Smith doing much for you.
Most yards against press coverage in 2019
Michael Thomas - 782
DeAndre Hopkins - 769
Julio Jones - 686
Courtland Sutton - 585 pic.twitter.com/9ANSdP3LnF
— PFF (@PFF) June 11, 2020
The cream of the crop when it comes to the Falcons, the receiving corps.
Julio Jones has straight dominated for seven of the last eight seasons. The one he didn't was an injury-plagued 2013. Other than that he has had no less than 79 catches and 1198 yards, which was his second season in the NFL.
The one knock on him is being able to find the endzone with consistency. This really came to light in 2017 when he only scored three times, despite catching 83 passes for 1444 yards. In the last two seasons, he has been much better overall with six and eight. However, in 2018 he didn't score in the first seven weeks of the season and in 2019 he scored in just four total games. Again inconsistency, still elite, and worth an early pick, but don't count on touchdowns from him.
Up and comer, Calvin Ridley is getting a lot of hype this offseason and for good reason. In his first two seasons, he has averaged 63.5 receptions and 843.5 yards. Last season he got hurt the last three games, before that he was on pace to catch 77 passes for 1,065 yards and nine touchdowns.
I know its a small sample but between Week 11 and 14 last season Ridley was No. 2 receiver in fantasy in all formats. He averaged 21.5 points in PPR, only to trail Michael Thomas.
The other options for this team are nothing that I'm interested in unless Jones or Ridley misses time. Christian Blake had one decent game where he caught six passes for 97 yards. It just so happened to be the same game Ridley was injured in. Treadwell has never been a viable receiver, even when given the chance. Gage is probably the most interesting as I think he will be the team WR3, but with Julio, Ridley, Gurley, the other backs and the tight ends getting so much of the target share, Gage won't matter much.
Per @AdamSchefter the Ravens are trading TE Hayden Hurst and a 2020 4th round pick to the Falcons for 2020 2nd and 5th round picks
Hurst: 1 drop from 48 catchable targets since 2018 pic.twitter.com/p24qFsWtvL
— PFF (@PFF) March 16, 2020
Last season the Falcons had the No. 1 tight end in Fantasy through the first 10 weeks of the season, Austin Hooper. After that injuries limited him to just two more games. He is no longer with the Falcons though as he signed with the Cleveland Browns. He opens up 82 total targets or 7.45 a game.
Enter incomer Hayden Hurst. Hurst is a former first-round pick for the Baltimore Ravens, but never really got things going for them. He doesn't lack talent though and the Falcons are hoping he can replace Hooper. It will be a tall order, and I don't expect it to happen. However, he is one of my favorite TE targets as his current ranking according to Fantasy Pros is TE12.
Jaeden Graham is not going to make much of a difference even if Hurst gets injured. Even with Hooper missing time last year, Graham mustered up nine receptions for 149 yards and a touchdown.
The Falcons are in a tough division with two Super Bowl favorites, the New Orleans Saints and Tampa Bay Buccaneers in it. As eluded to in the into, they have the offense to keep up with both of those teams. The defense is going to be the kicker for them. If they can play like they did in the second half of last year then they could win 10-11 games and compete for a playoff spot. If it more of what we saw in the first half, then we will get 4-5 wins.
In Fantasy, the Falcons have a ton of of high profile players on offense. Julio Jones leads the way with the highest ADP of them all with 14. Ridley and Gurley are 42 and 43 respectively. Ryan is the 8th quarterback taken with an ADP of 75. Hurst follows closes out things for the starters with an ADP of 121. You can use the F6P Rankings to see if we agree or disagree with the ADP.
Visit the F6P Fantasy Football page for more advice to get you prepared for the 2020 season.
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