A coaching change took place last year in Atlanta and the name chosen was Dan Quinn; who was bringing that familiar Cover 3 defense that we have all have grown to know and love due to the “Legion of Boom” out there in Seattle. With Quinn manning that side of the ball and core pieces in place on the other, in Matt Ryan and Julio Jones you figure there shouldn’t be much change in terms of production by inserting the well traveled Kyle Shanahan. All seemed well for the first 5 weeks going 5-0 but the 2nd half swoon torpedoed not only the Falcons’ playoff hopes but it led to the fantasy football hardships of Matt Ryan and Devonta Freeman down the stretch.
WR Julio Jones
The creme de la creme. Need I say more? You know who he is. You know what he is capable of. But just in case you were living under a rock or are new to the game or even if you have real hate for the Falcons to the point you plan on not drafting Jones let me enlighten you a bit. He was targeted 204 times last season which led the entire league. He caught 136 (tied for most receptions) of those targets for a 1,871 yards (most) with 8 TD’s. He also accounted for 25 gains of 20+ yards (most in 2015). By my count the Falcons have one other weapon in Devonta Freeman who in his own right had a season of great opportunity. The Falcons did add free agent WR Mohamed Sanu and drafted TE Austin Hooper, but they aren’t a threat to Jones’ volume. In fact, in Sanu’s most productive season he managed 56 receptions for 790 yards and that’s with A.J. Green missing 3 games. Not to mention rookie tight ends typically have a hard tine adjusting to life in the NFL. So I don’t think much changes with Julio Jones and his production. If you have a Top 5 pick and you have the opportunity to draft him, PULL THE TRIGGER!!!!!!!!
RB Devonta Freeman
The second year player urned it up last year when starting RB Tevin Coleman suffered an injury. Last year Freeman played 15 games, starting 13 of them and amassed over 1600 yds from scrimmage and 14 TD’s. Oh and the most telling stat was that touched the football 338 times (265 rushing attempts/73 rec). That is a lot of volume for a guy who wasn’t the original starter and tells you what they think of him and his talent. For now it looks like Coleman is an injury waiting to happen. Freeman may be as well if he continues where he left off last year. He was hurt and it was bound to happen at the pace he was touching the ball. This year I think Freeman’s rushing attempts will go down but his receptions will rise as the Falcons have seen he is a more than a viable weapon beyond the running game. I also think he will score more than the 14 TD’s he scored last year. Freeman is a PPR leaguers dream back and he is a standard leaguers RB1 as well.
QB Matt Ryan
The good news is “Matty Ice” threw for over 4500 yards. The bad news is he only threw 21 TDs with 16 interceptions. How is it you are the “franchise QB” the face of the franchise, the leader of your team and have the monster that is Julio Jones on your team and you were ONLY capable of throwing 21 TDs with almost as many picks? There’s no convoluted or extensive answer as to why this happened and why Ryan became a fantasy dud. Inside the opponents 20-yard line he threw 4 INTs; inside of his 20-yard line he threw 3 more. Now why you wouldn’t throw to Juilo when you are at the goal line is beyond me and it appears to be an offensive coordinator out-thinking himself. Let me also say when Ryan was at his best he had the future HOF Tony Gonzalez at his disposal. The Falcons did draft the talented TE Austin Hooper, but he is no Gonzalez and most tight ends struggle in their rookie seasons. There is a reason Kyle Shanahan is well traveled in the league…
Others of note:
- WR Mohamed Sanu
- RB Tevin Coleman
- TE Austin Hooper