|By Shawn Childs, Thursday, July 25, 2019|
(Editor's note: This is the free preview of the Atlanta Falcons team outlook. If you already are a premium subscriber to FullTime Fantasy, click here for our premium expanded Atlanta Falcons Team Outlook. The expanded team outlook also includes sections covering the coaching staff, offensive line, schedule, free agency, 2019 draft picks, defense & more.)
Falcons Offense Outlook
Atlanta finished as a top passing team in 2018, but their run game didn't come along for the ride. They ran the only 36.3 percent of the time with plenty of passing yards and passing TDs. Their additions to the offensive line should bold well for more growth in this offense in 2019.
QB Matt Ryan - Stud (low risk)
Update 12/29/19Ryan passed for 300 yards in four of his previous six contests, but he doesn’t have over two TDs in a game since in any of his eight past games. His season started with six solid games (304/2, 320/3, 304/3, 397/0, 330/4, and 356/4). In Week 12, Ryan threw for 271 yards with no TDs vs. the Bucs. Tampa jumped to 25th in QB defense (23.76 FPPG) after holding QBs to fewer than 20.0 Fantasy points in four of their previous five games. Over the first nine games, they allowed over 30.0 Fantasy points four times (39.60, 33.70, 43.00, and 31.00). QBs now gain 7.1 yards per pass attempt vs. the Bucs with 29 TDs. Tampa does have 17 sacks in their best three games (6, 5, and 5) over their previous outings. A high volume passer with a better resume on the road (17 TDs and five Ints) than at home (eight TDs and nine Ints).
RB Brian Hill - Solid/Safe Pick
Update 11/23/19The poor Carolina run defense held Hill to only 30 yards rushing on 15 carries in Week 11 with only one catch for eight yards. The Falcons had him on the field for 60 percent of the RB plays. There is a chance that Devonta Freeman plays this week, which would make Hill worthless in all Fantasy formats. If he does start again, he does have some failure and job loss risk. The Bucs rank highly vs. RBs (3rd – 17.01 FPPG), with rushers gaining only 3.3 yards per rush. All signs point to an avoid even with a starting job.
RB Devonta Freeman - Solid/Safe Pick
Update 12/29/19Atlanta had his best game of the season in Week 16 (127 combined yards with two TDs and nine catches). He needs 9.70 Fantasy points to reach 200 Fantasy points on the year despite missing two games. On the year, Freeman has 993 combined yards with six TDs and 57 catches on 17.2 touches per game. Tampa is third in RB defense (17.21 FPPG) with no team scoring over 30.0 Fantasy points. The Bucs allow 3.2 yards per rush with RBs scoring ten TDs. Wrong kind of matchup with a huge jump in salary after his big game in Week 16.
RB Ito Smith - Sleeper (undervalued)
Atlanta gave Smith 117 touches in his rookie season after losing Devonta Freeman for the season. He gained 467 combined yards with four TDs and 27 catches while gaining only 3.5 yards per rush and 5.6 yards per catch. Over four season at Southern Mississippi, Smith gained 5,498 combined yards with 49 TDs and 140 catches. He averaged 18.8 touches per game in his college career with three seasons with 40 catches or more. Ito gained 10.3 yards per catch in his college. Smith showed acceleration through the line of scrimmage if their daylight while also showing patience to find his seem to the second level of the defense. In the open field, Ito has a series of stutter steps, and shoulder fakes to make defenders miss. When tested one-on-one with his long speed, he shows a nice stiff arm to finish runs. His lack of size (5'9' and 195 lbs.) hurt his value when running in tight space with no exit plan. His hands grade well, and Smith knows what to do when the ball is in his hand. Tough to get excited based on his lack of success in 2018, but his college resume and scouting report paint him as higher level back. Possible 150+ touches for 700+ yards and a handful of TDs and 30+ catches while being a top insurance card in this offense.
WR Julio Jones - Stud (low risk)
Update 12/29/19Over the last two games, Jones played at a high-level (13/134/2 and 10/166), pushing him to fourth in WR scoring (259.70 Fantasy points). He gained over 100 yards in six games in 2019 with six TDs. With Calvin Ridley injured, Matt Ryan looked his way 35 times over the previous two games. In Week 12, Jones caught five passes for 68 yards against the Bucs. Tampa allows the most Fantasy points to WRs (44.02 FPPG – 220/2954/21 on 355 targets). Nine WRs gained over 100 yards receiving against the Bucs (Sterling Shepard – 7/100/1, Robert Woods – 13/164, Cooper Kupp – 9/121/1, Michael Thomas – 11/182/2, Tyler Lockett – 13/152/2, D.K. Metcalf – 6/123/1, Christian Kirk – 6/138/3, Michael Thomas – 8/114/1, Marcus Johnson – 3/105/1, and Danny Amendola – 8/102). CB Carlton Davis continues to improve, leading to WRs catching only half of their chances while allowing too many TDs. Makes sense, but Tampa will rush the QB while the Falcons can have risk pass protection.
WR Calvin Ridley - Solid/Safe Pick
Update 12/06/19With Auston Hooper injuries over the last three games, Ridley picked up 20 catches for 319 yards and two TDs on 32 targets. His best game (8/143/1) came in Week 11 against the Panthers. In 2018, Ridley had seven catches for 154 yards and two TDs on ten targets in two games vs. Carolina. His other big showing in 2019 came in Week 2 (8/105/1) vs. the Eagles. Ridley comes into Week 14 with a toe issue. CB Donte Jackson had his worst game of the year vs. Atlanta in Week 11 with Ridley doing most of the damage. I need more info about his health while his recent history suggests upside, but I don’t like his much higher salary.
WR Mohamed Sanu - Bye Week Fill-in
The Falcons have no complaints on the production of Sanu in his three years with the team (59/653/4, 67/703/5, and 66/838/4) while starting all 46 games. His skill set invite continues targets, but he can't match the upside of Calvin Ridley. More of a rotational player to cover short term injuries and bye weeks. He ranked 29th in 2018 at WR in PPR leagues, but I wouldn't draft him anything higher than a WR5 this draft season. Possible 55 catches for 700+ yards and short TDs.
TE Austin Hooper - Quality Backup
Update 12/29/19After missing three weeks with a knee issue, he struggled to make plays in two games (2/32 and 3/20) while receiving 12 targets. Hooper played well in Week 16 (7/82), but his attraction led to his salary jumping by $1,400 in one week. Over his first nine games, Hooper had three impact games (6/66/2, 9/130, and 8/117/1), leading to 56 catches for 608 yards and six TDs on 67 targets. Tampa sits 25th defending TEs (13.79 FPPG – 77/915/7 on 127 targets) while playing much better over the past seven games (4.00, 14.10, 6.30, 1.60, 7.60, 8.10, and 5.70 Fantasy points). Over the first eight games, the Bucs allowed over 20.0 Fantasy points in five contests. Hooper seems overpriced here based on the improvement of Tampa’s TE defense.
PK Giorgio Tavecchio - Solid/Safe Pick
After a long successful career in Atlanta, Matt Bryant was let go in the offseason. They signed Tavecchio as his replacement or a possible place holder if a better option becomes available over the summer. In his only season in the NFL, Giorgio made 76.2 percent of his 21 field goals with one missed extra point in 34 chances. As a fill in for the Falcons in 2018, he made all 13 of kicks while adding to his success from long range (5-for-6). Last year Atlanta scored 49 TDs while creating only 26 field goal chances. A possible value at kicker if he does indeed keep the starting job all year.
Atlanta - Solid/Safe Pick
Atlanta fell to 25th in the league in rushing yards allowed (1,999) with 16 TDs and 13 runs over 20 yards. They allowed 4.9 yards per rush with 25.6 rushes per game.
The Falcons ranked 27th in passing yards allowed (4,153) with 33 TDs and only 15 Ints. QBs gained 7.5 yards per pass attempt with 46 completion over 20 yards. Their defense had 37 sacks.
DE Takkarist McKinley picked up 22 tackles and seven sacks in his second year in the NFL. His game remains unimpressive in rushing defense while needing plenty of work on his tackling ability. McKinley comes to the NFL with a high motor and playmaking ability. McKinley has excellent speed (4.59) with an attacking mindset. His negative on his scouting report is his hands, which is a coachable area, which will be needed to help Takkarist become a better pass rusher.
DE Vic Beasley had more regression in 2018 after posting 15.5 sacks in 2016. He makes too many mistakes in the open field making tackles while being a liability in the run games. The Falcons selected him in the first round in 2015, but his fade last year almost led to him being released. Beasley has a lot to prove in his fifth year in the NFL.
DT Grady Jarrett developed into a top run defender over the last two years while adding 17 sacks over his previous three seasons. His next step in his growth is fewer mistakes.
DT Tyeler Davison signed to a one-year contract to work a rotational run defender. DT Deadrin Senat brings strength and power to the interior of the Falcons' defensive line. His hands grade well, but his range is limited while being on the bench on passing downs. Deadrin should works as an early-down run stopper while needing to improve his passing rushing skills to earn more playing time.
The Falcons hope incoming rookie John Cominsky can add value vs. the run and the pass rush. He's a former QB that was worked hard to beef up to his new defensive position.
Deion Jones missed ten games last year, which came after setting a career high in tackles (138) with one sack, three Ints, and ten defended passes. Jones will make plays in the passing game while offering minimal value in sacks and questions in his value defending the run. The Falcons added him in the 2016 NFL Draft with a second round pick.
Foyesade Oluokun made only seven starts in his rookie season while showing risk in almost every area. He did make 91 tackles while failing to make a sack. His frame (6'2" and 215 lbs.) projects more as a safety in the NFL. Oluokun has coverage skills with plus speed (4.48) and short area quickness, but he needs to improve his vision in run support while having risk on double moves if matchup up with elite talent at WR.
De'Vondre Campbell is a sure tackler who improved in each in the NFL vs. the run. In 2018, he set a career high in tackles (94) with only 1.5 sacks and no production defending the pass.
CB Desmond Trufant lost some of his luster in coverage while grading highly in this area in his first years in the NFL back in 2013 and 2014. He tackles well while adding support vs. the run. The weakness around in the starting lineup could have been part of the reason for his fade.
CB Isaiah Oliver will move into the starting line up after coming off the bench in his rookie season. Oliver doesn't have impact speed (4.5) based on his time at the 2018 NFL Combined in the forty-yard dash. His play speed in the deep passing game plays well while projecting to offer upside in press coverage. Isaiah is at his best in the trail position where he can make up ground when the ball is in the air. His technique off the ball isn't where it needs to be leading to too much separation for WRs out of their breaks when they move to the sidelines or back to the ball. His value as a run defender has risk as well until he adds more decisiveness to his game when moving toward the line of scrimmage. Oliver has shutdown coverage skills with more experience and improved base skills.
S Keanu Neal has 222 tackles, 14 defended passes, and one Int in his first 30 games in the NFL after being drafted in the first round in 2016. His best value comes in run support. Last year the Falcons lost him for the season in the first game of the year with a torn ACL in his left knee. Atlanta needs him to regain his previous form to help push this defense back in the right direction.
S Ricardo Allen ended up missing 13 games with an Achilles injury. In 2017, Allen finished with a high rating in both run defense and pass coverage even with a drop in production (54 tackles, two defended passes and one Int).
Falcons Fantasy Defense Outlook
A couple of injuries in the secondary and more failure by Vic Beasley led to a disappointing season for the Falcons' defense. This season they should be improved while having plenty of questions with the health of their top personnel. Overall, this defense may surprise, but they do play in a division with talented offenses in the passing game. More of a second defense that will be found in the free agent pool in most weeks.
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