Daily Dr. Roto — July 17, 2018
Atlanta Falcons Team Preview
Outlook: The Falcons come into the season primed to make a playoff run, but their offense must improve in the second year under OC Steve Sarkisian. If the offense struggles early, the fans will be calling for Sarkisian’s head which could send this team into disarray.
QB: The Falcons offense is led by Matt Ryan who even though he had a sensational year in 2016, is still not considered to be a QB1 by most high stakes players. The problem for Ryan is never the passing yards (which always seem to be hovering over 4000), but his lack of TD passes. In 2015 he had 21 TD passes and 2017 he had 20 TD passes. Because of this, his 38 TD passes in 2016 seems like the anomaly. Sarkisian has struggled to create plays for Julio Jones in the red zone, and the Falcons seem to prefer running the ball when they are by the goal line. This makes Ryan nothing more than a QB2 in most formats.
RB: Devonta Freeman is an outstanding running back when he’s on the field. He is dynamic in open space, catches the ball exceptionally well out of the backfield, and even has a nose for the end zone when the Falcons are close to the goal line. He is coming off a late-season knee injury, and I always feel like the Falcons try to limit his touches to keep him fresh throughout the season. Most Fantasy owners will draft him in the second round, but I would prefer to take him early third. The reason for that is mainly due to Tevin Coleman. Coleman is a battering ram of a runner who needs a full-time job. He is in the final year of a four-year deal this season, and he will do his best to get paid next off-season. Look for the Falcons to use Coleman in more packages to try to keep him happy. If you are playing in deep dynasty formats, do yourself a favor and stash rookie RB Ito Smith with your last round pick. Smith has a similar style and skill set to Freeman and put up a ton of yards at Southern Mississippi in his college career. If Coleman leaves town next season (as expected), Smith could move right in as the backup to Freeman.
WR: There is no doubt that Julio Jones (Roto) is one of the finest receivers in the NFL. If there is any knock on him, it’s that he’s only caught 25 TD in the past five years. The targets are there, and the yardage is plentiful, but Fantasy owners don’t get those extra six points which are so necessary to winning Fantasy championships. Jones has stayed reasonably healthy for the past couple of seasons, but he does have a history of foot and ankle problems. The bottom line on Jones is that he is no longer a first-round Fantasy level talent, but he is an excellent addition to your team as a mid-second round pick. Mohamed Sanu is the Falcons WR2, and he always seems to get overlooked in drafts. In his two years playing with Matt Ryan, he has 177 targets and nine TDs. But the best part about Sanu is that he usually is available in rounds 13-15 when you are desperately looking for a WR5. Just remember this: If Julio Jones should ever get injured, Sanu’s value would skyrocket, so I have no problem taking him as my WR4. The Falcons added to their already imposing receiving corps by adding Alabama rookie WR Calvin Ridley in the first round of this year’s NFL Draft. Ridley slipped in the draft after teams wondered about his size and the fact that he was a bit older than others in his draft class, but I think the Falcons made an outstanding selection here. Ridley was a game-breaking receiver in college and has the speed and separation ability to do the same at the Pro level. While I love Ridley in dynasty leagues, I do think he will be a bit overvalued in redraft leagues. Ridley will contribute, but he will not get that many targets this season with Jones, Sanu, Hooper, and Freeman all vying for the football.
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TE: I have been waiting for Austin Hooper to make more of an impact, but something tells me that this might not ever happen. Hooper jumped from 19 receptions as a rookie to 49 receptions last season, but I don’t see that next jump happening in 2018. I would expect another season of about 50 receptions for 600 yards. What Hooper can work on is becoming more of a threat in the red zone: if his TDs can jump from 3 to 6, he could be considered a TE1 in most formats.
K: I have never been much of a Matt Bryant fan, but he plays on a good offense inside a dome which makes him worth owning in any format.
D: This is a swarming defense led by Vic Beasley and Takkarist McKinley on the outside providing the pass rush. The Falcons are always one of my go-to defenses late in drafts if all my favorites have already been selected. The play on turf and can make big plays every so often.
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