32 Teams In 32 Days: Atlanta Falcons
32 Teams In 32 Days
Hello, fellow fantasy football degenerates. In my “32 In 32” series I will be going team by team breaking them down from every aspect you can think of. From their records, team statistics, Vegas lines, contract situations, individual statistics, fantasy numbers, draft picks and implications, free agency updates, and more. Everything to recap 2018 and preview 2019.
Part three of my “32 Teams In 32 Days” series will profile the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons have been a great team to find fantasy value for a few years now. Matt Ryan has become one of the best fantasy options at quarterback. They have always provided an RB1/2, but also hidden value from their RB2 slot. Sporting one of the greatest receivers to ever take the field in Julio Jones and some other very solid to good pieces at wide receiver. Their tight end Austin Hooper has also been on the assent. Here is the Falcons story…
Atlanta Falcons (7-9)
Atlanta, as we all know fell victim to Tom Brady in the 2016 season but were somewhat able to avoid the hangover last season finishing 10-6. They started 3-3 but finished strong winning seven of their last 10 games and taking down the Rams in the wild-card round before losing to the 2017 Super Bowl champ in Philadelphia. Even with this loss, the outlook for the future was bright.
Due to many reasons, the feeling would soon fade as Atlanta would lose four of their first five games to start 2018 including two losses where they put up 36+ points. A Dan Quinn defense should be more solid than this but injury hit the Falcons hard on the defense early. In Week 1 ATL LB Deion Jones (Foot) and FS Keanu Neal (Knee), two very important pieces for their defense were both lost to injury. Jones till Week 13 and Neal for the year. Even the sixth-ranked offense in terms of yards couldn’t overcome the losses.
The season was made up of streaks. They had two three-game winning streaks but paired those with a three and five-game losing streak which ultimately, are what doomed their season. A 7-9 season after back to back double digit win seasons left a lot of questions moving forward.
|Pre 1||Thu||August 1||8:00 PM ET||Denver Broncos|
|Pre 2||Thu||August 8||7:30 PM ET||@||Miami Dolphins|
|Pre 3||Thu||August 15||7:30 PM ET||New York Jets|
|Pre 4||Thu||August 22||7:30 PM ET||Washington Redskins|
|Pre 5||Thu||August 29||7:00 PM ET||@||Jacksonville Jaguars|
|1||Sun||September 8||1:00PM ET||@||Minnesota Vikings||preview|
|2||Sun||September 15||8:20PM ET||Philadelphia Eagles||preview|
|3||Sun||September 22||1:00PM ET||@||Indianapolis Colts||preview|
|4||Sun||September 29||1:00PM ET||Tennessee Titans||preview|
|5||Sun||October 6||1:00PM ET||@||Houston Texans||preview|
|6||Sun||October 13||4:05PM ET||@||Arizona Cardinals||preview|
|7||Sun||October 20||1:00PM ET||Los Angeles Rams||preview|
|8||Sun||October 27||1:00PM ET||Seattle Seahawks||preview|
|10||Sun||November 10||1:00PM ET||@||New Orleans Saints||preview|
|11||Sun||November 17||1:00PM ET||@||Carolina Panthers||preview|
|12||Sun||November 24||1:00PM ET||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||preview|
|13||Thu||November 28||8:20PM ET||New Orleans Saints||preview|
|14||Sun||December 8||1:00PM ET||Carolina Panthers||preview|
|15||Sun||December 15||4:25PM ET||@||San Francisco 49ers||preview|
|16||Sun||December 22||1:00PM ET||Jacksonville Jaguars||preview|
|17||Sun||December 29||1:00PM ET||@||Tampa Bay Buccaneers||preview|
The Falcons came up just shy of 26 Points per Game in the 2018 season (25.9, 10th in the league) and were one of seven teams to average more than 380 yards a game (389.1, sixth). They were not the most consistent offense, a little boom or bust even with six games scoring fewer than 20 points and seven games above 30. They lost Devonta Freeman (Knee), which left the running game far from consistent. Julio was Julio but the rest of the passing game was up and down. Austin Hooper took a jump which gave Matt Ryan a reliable safety valve.
The offensive line play left something to be desired as they gave up almost a full Sack (0.9) more per Game than last season which tied for 13th most in the league. Losing Andy Levitre (Triceps, Free Agent) and Brandon Fusco (Ankle) off the O-Line didn’t help. Also, they gave away the ball about as much as they took it away (+1). Atlanta, however, converted the 10th most first downs (352) and their 45.3% third down conversion rate ranked fourth in the league. They were tied for the 10th fewest penalties. There was about as much bad as good.
- Points Per Game 2017-2018/ Difference (22.1-25.9/ +3.8)
- Yards Per Game 2017-2018/ Difference (364.8-389.1/ +24.3)
- First Downs Per Game 2017-2018/ Difference (20.62-22.0/ +1.38)
- Third Down Conversion Rate 2017-2018/ Difference (44.7%-45.3%/ +0.6%)
- Penalties Per Game 2017-2018/ Difference (6.37-6.31/ -0.06)
- Turnover Ratio 2017-2018/ Difference (-2/1/+3)
2018 Vegas Lines
|G#||Opp||Spread||Over/Under||Result||vs. Line||OU Result|
Results vs. Line: 5-11-0
As Underdog vs. Line: 1-4-0
Favored vs. Line: 4-7-0
Over: 9 Under: 7 Push: 0
The offense will welcome back a familiar face in Dirk Koetter as he will take over the offensive coordinator role for a second time.
Matt Ryan just had the best fantasy season of his career in 2018 highlighted by eight 300+ yard passing games and six 3+ TD games. The Falcons QB attempted the third most passes (608), and had the third most yards (4,924), and touchdowns (35) in the league. He had the fewest interceptions (7) and the lowest interception rate Rate (1.2%) of his career. The second most Completions (422), Yards (See Above), TDs (See Above), Y/A (8.1), Y/G (307.8), and the second highest comp % (69.4%), QB rate (108.1), and TD rate (5.8). Also the third highest total QBR (70.1). Ryan’s 2016 season has some better numbers but as you can see below he slightly outscored that season in ’18. You can also see below that his fantasy finishes were higher on average than the rest of his career and did not have any performances below a QB2.
Ryan was able to do this all despite having a rushing offense that is one of only six to average less than 100 yards a game (98.3, 27th), being sacked the second most times (42), and having the highest sack rate of his career. Losing their starting running back in the first week of the season surely played into all off that and the number of attempts passing. When you can not run the ball, teams will not fear it and you have to pass more. When you pass more there is just more opportunity for the defense to get pressure. Add in the O-Line injuries I mentioned above and it is not exactly a recipe for success. Ryan though had the sixth highest pressured completion % at 47.0%.
Ryan’s 2018 Season
- QB2, 354.0 Fan Points
- Completed 422/608 Attempts (69.4%)
- 4924 Yards (8.1 Y/A – 11.7 Y/C)
- 35 TDs (5.8% TD Rate) 7 INT (1.2% INT Rate)
- 33 RuAtt, 125 Yards, 3 TD
- Total QBR 70.6 (QB Rate 108.1)
His weapons helped and hurt him at the same time. They gave him the seventh most yards of separation per route (1.66). That is good. The bad? The bad is the 31 Dropped Passes (Fifth) they had. Age has been kind to Atlanta’s QB. His two best season have come in the last three seasons. There does not seem to be any signs of slowing either. He had the most AirYards (2,876), fifth-most AirYards per Att (4.5), seventh most Deep Att (73), and was able to overcome and come through to produce the QB2 season.
With Freeman getting injured (Knee) in Week 1, Tevin Coleman would seemingly have a chance to prove himself to either the Falcons or another team as he had free agency. I think he showed in his performance that he is better suited for the role the Falcons had been using him in as the third down, change of pace back. He did finish inside the top-20 but that is due in large part to the nine TDs Coleman scored.
Coleman’s 2018 Season
- RB18, 161.6 Fan Points
- 167 RuAtt (10.4 AttP/G), 800 Yards (50.0 YdP/G), 2 100 Yard Games
- Caught 32/44 Targets, 276 Yards (8.6 Y/R)
- 4 RuTD, 5 ReTD (9 Total)
- 199 Touches, 1,076 Yards (5.4 Y/T)
Coleman may not be the most shifty RB as demonstrated by his 21.6 % Juke Rate (38th) and his 43 Evaded Tackles (31st) but he is fast and can run through an open hole. He finished the season seventh in total Breakaway Runs (13) and Break Away Run Rate (7.8%).
Ito Smith, The Falcons rookie RB had some moments in the backup role. He had a stretch from Week 4-9 when he scored four TDs but despite seeing double-digit touches in six games in the backup role, Smith only eclipsed 55 Yards twice in 15 games. If Coleman and the Falcons part ways Smith would likely be in for the same role when Freeman returns.
Note: Feb 27th, Ito Smith to see a significant increase in work in 2019.
2019 RB free Agency Update
RB Tevin Coleman has signed with San Fransisco. Atlanta wasn’t really looking for his replacement when they signed Kenjon Barner as they have Ito Smith who some are high on. Whether it be from talent or potential opportunity, there is absolutely a reason to be intrigued. Atlanta is an offense that generally uses a two-back system and the injury concern for Devonta Freeman is real. in some very limited opportunity this year, Smith was able to put together some solid weeks and seemed to be the go-to guy for goal-line touches.
Qadree Ollison Running Back, Atlanta Falcons
Will have to fight with Ito Smith for back-up touches in 2019 and likely beyond. Devonta Freeman will likely dominate touches and could possibly produce an RB1 season if healthy. However, monitor the situation as Freeman has injury concerns. Ollison is out of PITT.
Offensive Line Additions
- Chris Lindstrom OL, BC
Height: 6-4, Weight: 307
- Kaleb McGary OL, WASH
Height: 6-7, Weight: 317
With Coleman now in San Fransisco, Freeman should be able to dominate touches again as he once did. The offense will never allow for a legit workhorse role but with the injury history and Freeman’s smaller size, the best thing for him is likely the shared role as he has gotten anyways. If the Atlanta running back can stay healthy and neither of the younger backs (Smith and Ollison) blows the minds of the coaching staff, Freeman can return to the mid to lower RB1 status we last saw him in. The offensive line adds in the draft show the addressing of a big-time need that will only help. Absolutely watch to see which other RB stands out and takes the RB2 slot because they will have some relevant weeks.
“Freeman’s 2018 was a total wash. A bone bruise to his knee made him miss weeks 2-4 which was followed by sports hernia surgery. That surgery ended his season, however, there is hope for 2019. Both the bone bruise and hernia should be completely healed before training camp.” – Ethan Turner
Julio And The Rest Of The Receivers
As a result of the lack of rushing production, the receivers got the benefit of a ton of volume. Julio Jones did what Julio does (The WR5). The Falcons stud wide receiver led the league in yards (1,677), targets (170), second in AirYards (1,227), and was third in receptions (113) which were a result of his 28.1% target share (Sixth). Jones had the 15th highest dominator rate (28.1%) which is not bad at all but it should have been better for a receiver that had 10 100+ yard games. Jones had the sixth most drops (8) and had the same number of TDs which all came between Week 9 and 17. The Falcons had their BYE during Week 8. The drops are not exactly great but he did make up for it some with his 45.2% Contested Catch Rate (16th).
Jones’ 2018 Season
- WR5, 212.8 Fan Points
- Caught 113/170 Targets (66.5%) 7.1 P/G
- 1,677 Yards (14.8 Y/R, 9.8 Y/T) 10 100 Yard games
- 8 TDs
- Week 1-7 Avg – Caught 7.6/11.6 Targets, 116 Yards, 0.0 TD
- Week 9-17 Avg – Caught 6.7/9.9 Targets, 96.1 Yards, 0.9 TDs – Difference (-0.9 Receptions, -1.7 Targets, -19.1 Yards, +0.9 TDs)
As you see above, Jones’ targets, receptions, and yards all took a hit but he started scoring so I think everyone should be ok with the shift. He saw three red zone targets come his way in Week 1 and then did not see another until Week 10.
- Week 1-9 Red Zone Targets (3)
- Week 10-17 RZT (14)
He turned those targets into 10 red zone receptions (12th). There should have been no reason Jones did not get the work inside the 20 except that… Well, he just did not. Despite his “none use” during the first half of the season, Jones’s eight TDs were still tied for the second most in his career to go with the receptions, targets, and yards that also were the second most of his career. Atlanta produced a second top-20 WR as well and he has a little to do with Jones’ lack of early season TDs.
Ridley’s 2018 Season
- WR18, 142.8 Fan Points
- Caught 64/92 Targets (69.6%) 4.0 P/G
- 821 Yards (12.8 Y/R, 8.9 Y/T) 1 100 Yard games
- 10 TDs
Calvin Ridley’s season could not have started off with less of a bang when in Week 1 when he scored 0.0 fantasy points and caught zero passes on two targets. Over the next three weeks, he would go on a pretty impressive run. From Week 2-4, Ridley averaged 5 receptions on 6.3 targets and 2 TDs a game with five red zone targets. His biggest game of the season coming in Week 3 against the New Orleans Saints star cornerback Marshawn Lattimore primarily. Ridley hauled in 7/8 targets for 146 yards and 3 TDs.
In fact, Ridley kind of has Lattimore’s number so far in their early battles. In Week 12, Atlanta faced the Saints for the second time and the young WR saw 13 targets and had 8 receptions for 93 yards and another TD. The early season success would never be matched as Julio took over the red zone role (Jones RZ Tgt 17/ Ridley RZ Tgt 9) and Mohamed Sanu took on a larger role.
Sanu’s Season Split
- Week 1-7 Avg – Caught 3.4/5.0 Targets, 46.3 Yards, 0.4 TDs
- Week 9-17 Avg – Caught 4.7/6.6 Targets, 57.1 Yards, 0.1 TDs – Difference (+1.1 Receptions, +1.6 Targets, +10.8 Yards, -0.3 TDs) – 1 RuTD (WK 17)
Sanu did score three times between Weeks 3-6 but was only seeing 5 targets on average through the first half of the season. Sanu would not see another TD until Week 16 as Jones seemed to take all the work there but there was an increase in every other area as you see above.
2019 WR free Agency Update
Mavin Hall signed with Chicago and Justin Hardy is returning to Atlanta on a one year deal.
Olamide Zaccheaus, WR – Virginia
Khalil Lewis, WR – Cinncinatti
Tight ends often take some time to really hit in fantasy and for real life for that matter as it’s one of the toughest to transfer from college to the pros. Certainly, in 2018, Austin Hooper took some steps forward.
- 2016 Avg – Caught 1.4/1.9 Targets, 19.4 Yards, 0.2 TDs (14.26 Y/R, 10.04 Y/T)
- 2017 Avg – Caught 3.1/4.1 Targets, 32.9 Yards, 0.2 TDs (10.73 Y/R, 8.09 Y/T)
- 2018 Avg – Caught 4.4/5.5 Targets, 41.3 Yards, 0.3 TDs (9.3 Y/R, 7.5 Y/T)
The drop in his Y/R and Y/T in my opinion of his use increasing as a whole in the offense, not just as a change of pace field stretching TE. Hooper had the highest catch rate (80.7%) and the fourth most avg yards of separation per target (1.91) among TEs which helped him total the seventh most yards (660), AirYards (452), and the fourth most receptions (71) at the position. All adding up to the TE7 finish.
Hooper’s 2018 Season
- TE7, 92.0 Fan Points
- Caught 71/88 Targets (80.7%) 4.4 P/G
- 660 Yards (9.3 Y/R, 7.5 Y/T)
- 4 TDs
His role could even further increase with the hiring of Koetter at OC as we have seen previous success in multiple seasons at the TE position especially with Hall Of Famer Tony Gonzalez in his last stint with the Falcons. Look for Hooper to take another leap in 2019.
2019 TE free Agency Update
Luke Stocker, formerly of the Tennessee Titans has signed a two year deal with Atlanta. This shouldn’t effect Austin Hooper to much but we will have to wait and see. Logan Paulson has returned to the team on a one year deal.
2018 Fantasy Relevant Draftees
26th Overall, WR Calvin Ridley
- Caught 64/92 Targets, 821 Yards, 10 TDs, 6 RuAtt/27 Yards
126th Overall, RB Ito Smith
- 117 Touches, 367 Yards, 4 TD
194th Overall, WR Russell Gage
- Caught 6/10 Targets, 63 Yards
With The 14th Overall Pick In The 2019 NFL Draft, The Atlanta Falcons Select…
The Falcons could look to help out that offensive line that allowed Ryan to be sacked at the highest rate of his career or they could look to defense early as a little help there wouldn’t hurt either.
I think I did alright on that draft prediction on January 30th when I originally made it.
- Chris Lindstrom OL, BC
Height: 6-4, Weight: 307
- Kaleb McGary OL, WASH
Height: 6-7, Weight: 317
- Kendall Sheffield CB, OHIOST
Height: 5-11, Weight: 193
- John Cominsky DL, UCWV
Height: 6-5, Weight: 286
- Qadree Ollison RB, PITT
Height: 6-1, Weight: 228
- Jordan Miller CB, WASH
Height: 6-1, Weight: 186
- Marcus Green WR, LAMON
Height: 5-8, Weight: 191
2019 O-Line free Agency Update
Atlanta has done some work to their O-Line through free agency as well as the draft. They recently acquired James Carpenter (Four Years) and Jamon Brown (Three Years) at Guard. Andy Levitre, Ben Garland, and Zane Beadles, all three of which are guards.
2018 Falcons Injuries
Click here to see a list of the Falcons Injuries.
Moving Into 2019
Cap Space $5,147,056
As the Atlanta Falcons head into 2019, they have a few knowns that we can 100% trust in Julio Jones and Matt Ryan. The rest of the offense has some questions though. How does Freeman return from injury and can he be the same force with the ball in his hands that he has been or does the time off take away from the fire he ran with? Who is going to take over the Tevin Coleman role? Smith and Ollison are there but will they be a viable fantasy piece moving forward?
Can Ridley be the touchdown monster that he was early in the season before Julio went bananas and what about the third WR slot? Is it still Sanu’s or does a youngster take over? Finally, can the offensive line protect better than last season but also can they open up some holes? As I said above, Freeman’s return from injury and if he can be the same furious runner he was will always cover up a few flaws but how long will he stay healthy? It should be nice to see a familiar face in Dirk Koetter which will help the transition to a new scheme if that is the plan. Atlanta is a team I could see having a top-10 fantasy player at every position.
Thank you and best of luck in 2019!