The Case for Matt Ryan
Year after year we seem to disrespect Matt Ryan who is a solid, consistent fantasy quarterback. I get it. He isn’t a “sexy” name in fantasy football. There are thrilling young QBs whose “potential” intoxicates the fantasy GM. But I am here to make the case for Matt Ryan.
Disclaimer, I have Pat Mahomes ranked higher than Ryan.
But Mahomes is being drafted on average in the third round. The third round?! Where you can get the likes of Adam Thielen, Devonta Freeman, Kerryon Johnson, Zach Ertz or George Kittle! I would never recommend anyone taking a quarterback, even Mahomes, in the third round, outside of a 2QB/Superflex league.
Anyone who follows me or has read any of my fantasy musings knows I am a sucker for a bargain. And while Mahomes is being drafted at his pinnacle (let’s face it, he has to reproduce his record-setting 2018 season to have any ROI at that draft capital) Matt Ryan, who was the No.2 QB in fantasy last year and my No.5 in Consistency Score, has an ADP in the seventh round and is currently the sixth QB taken in drafts. I am passing on Mahomes and more than happy to draft Matt Ryan instead.
What’s Old is New Again
Dirk Koetter is returning to Atlanta after a failed stint as the Head Coach in Tampa Bay. Normally a new OC is a little disheartening for an offense, and especially the QB. But this is a rare exception to that. Koetter was Ryan’s OC from 2012 through the 2014 season. During that time Ryan never finished worse than 11th in fantasy QB rankings. Since then he has been a Top 5 QB twice.
Koetter’s QB history in Tampa Bay was questionable as he attempted to cling to his job. But if you combined Ryan Fitzpatrick and Jameis Winston into one quarterback for 2018 the Tampa Bay QB position scored 345.22 total Fantasy points for the season. Or 21.58 Fantasy Points per game. That total would have been the No.3 QB in fantasy last season. Tampa had a lot of problems which lead to Koetter finding himself in the unemployment line. But the offensive production of the team wasn’t part of that.
Koetter returning also means Ryan is already familiar with the offense that is coming. There is always a learning curve when you implement a new offense in the NFL. And we have seen that with dramatic swings in Ryan’s fantasy production. But this time around, it won’t be entirely new concepts, terminology, etc. This “change” is just part of a normal offseason adaptation. Ryan and Koetter already know each other and parts of this offense are going to be “more of the same” for Ryan. There is no reason to assume he plummets in 2019 as he did under his first season with Kyle Shanahan.
Matt Ryan is a better quarterback indoors. It is plain and simple. I am usually not the type of guy who buys into that kind of thing fully. But that has been Ryan’s MO since entering the league. It is hard to continue being a skeptic if we look at his game splits between indoor and outdoor games from 2018. It becomes easily apparent.
|Games||Comp%||Yds/Att||TD||TD/Att||QB Rating||Total Fantasy Points||FP/Game|
Ryan averaged a better completion percentage, higher yards-per-attempt, higher touchdown-per-attempt, higher QB rating, and more fantasy points-per-game when playing indoors vs. outdoors. Okay okay, I get it. I’m a believer. But what does that mean for 2019? Atlanta plays 13 games in domes this year and will only brave the elements in three games all season. Let me say that again. 13 games indoors! You have to look past their bye week (9) to find their first outdoor game for the year, in week 11 at Carolina.
This might be oversimplifying things, but if we just use the above FP/Game for the 2019 schedule Ryan would finish the year with 369.01 total Fantasy Points. That is 15.05 more than the 2018 season. It is still second behind Mahomes, but it more than doubles the gap between Ryan and third place Ben Roethlisberger.
The Award for Best Ensemble Performance Goes To…
Ryan, additionally, gets the benefit of having incredible playmakers surrounding him on the offensive side of the ball. Aside from Tevin Coleman following Kyle Shanahan to the Bay area, Atlanta didn’t lose any of their top playmakers from 2018.
The Tevin Coleman loss is mitigated by the idea that Devonta Freeman is coming back healthy this year and has been an incredible running back for the Falcons. If we look at Ryan’s QB Passer rating by receiver in our apps for 2017, when Freeman started 14 games, you can see how effective of a weapon he was for Ryan who posted a 101.1 passer rating when throwing his way.
More importantly, Calvin Ridley is going into his second year opposite Julio Jones and has proven to be a true difference-maker for Ryan. Using the Splits Tool shows just how much of an impact Ridley had on Ryan’s game since joining the ranks of the NFL. Comparing the last 32 games, 16 of which Ryan had Ridley and 16 where he did not, Ryan was a completely different QB when Ridley was on the field. He averaged 7.15 FP/Game more in games with Ridley, 50+ yards more passing-per-game, and nearly a whole touchdown more per game as well.
If Ridley takes another step forward, he and Julio could be the best receiver duo in the league. Then you still have Mohamed Sanu, Devonta Freeman, Ito Smith, and Austin Hooper and Atlanta have truly given Ryan an embarrassment of riches in the passing game.
When you have that much talent at the skill positions on a single team, the one focal point that you can promise is going to get fantasy production is always the quarterback. Ryan should be the first and foremost target on this offense in your drafts. A scrumptious schedule and fantastic offense, Ryan is the most likely quarterback to finish second behind Mahomes again, yet we continue to discount him to the mid-rounds of drafts. Target Matt Ryan and forget about Mahomes hefty price tag.
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