Coach: Dan Quinn
OC: Dirk Koetter
QB: Matt Ryan, Matt Schaub, Kurt Benkert
RBs: Devonta Freeman, Ito Smith, Kenjon Barner, Quadree Ollison, Brian Hill, Tony Brooks-James
FBs: Ricky Ortiz
WRs: Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Mohamed Sanu, Justin Hardy, Russell Gage, Christian Blake, Marcus Green, Olamide Zaccheaus, Shawn Bane, CJ Worton, Kahlil Lewis, Devin Gray
TEs: Austin Hooper, Luke Stocker, Eric Saubert, Jaeden Graham, Alex Gray, Logan Paulson
2019 Draft (offense only):
Round 1, Pick 14 – OG – Chris Lindstrom – Boston College
Round 1, Pick 31 – OT – Kaleb McGary – Washington
Round 5, Pick 152 – RB – Quadree Ollison – Pittsburgh
Round 6, Pick 203 – WR – Marcus Green – UL Monroe
2019 Undrafted Free Agents (fantasy offense only):
RB – Tony Brooks-James – Oregon
WR – Olamide Zaccheaus – Virginia
WR – Shawn Bane – NW Missouri St
WR – CJ Worton – Florida International
WR – Kahlil Lewis – Cincinnati
Key Offseason Additions (fantasy offense):
RB – Kenjon Barner
Training Camp Preview: Rookies 7/18, Veterans 7/21
Dan Quinn enters his 5th season as the Falcons head coach and will be working with new OC Dirk Koetter. Koetter served as the Falcons OC for 3 years in 2012-2014 and had a top 10 passing offense in each of these seasons. The Falcons Defense was decimated by injury last year and should be a much better unit in 2019. We can expect the Falcons passing attack to remain one of the best in the league, but we should also be projecting an improvement from the running game as well. The Falcons spent two first round picks on Offensive Lineman and have Devonta Freeman returning from injury.
Matt Ryan is entering his 12th season at age 34 and is coming off of a top 5 QB season. Because of the injuries on defense and to Devonta Freeman, Atlanta was forced to throw a ton last year. Things should be different this season even with OC Dirk Koetter back in town. We can still project Ryan as a lock for QB1 production with upside for a top 5 finish, but we need to consider the state of the Falcons in 2018 and understand that they will be more competitive this year and running the ball more with Freeman, not always playing from behind. He is being drafted around QB6 and is likely being drafted at his ceiling this year, but if he falls beyond this point, feel free to secure him as your QB1. Not much to talk about behind him with Matt Schaub and Kurt Benkert.
All attention will be on Devonta Freeman in this backfield. Many will view Freeman as injury prone but it was really only last season where he missed a lot of time. In his first four years, he only missed 3 games out of 64. Last year skews things because he missed 14 games so people are quick to label him as injury prone. Freeman is still 27yrs old and will be getting the majority of touches in this backfield now that Tevin Coleman is gone. Freeman presents RB1 upside and can be had in the 3rd round of drafts. Behind him we have 2nd year Ito Smith. Smith showed good Red Zone ability in his rookie year with 4 TDs but only averaged 3.5yds per carry. We mentioned Atlanta’s offensive line improvements so perhaps we shouldn’t worry too much about that number. Smith is the clear #2 here and can be easily handcuffed to Freeman in the double digit rounds. If you’re nervous about Freeman but want some security, this would not be a bad pairing considering the cheap cost of both. The Falcons also drafted a banger in Qadree Ollison out of Pitt. If anything happens to Freeman, expect Ollison to get some looks next to Ito Smith. The Falcons still have Brian Hill and added Kenjon Barner so we’ll have to monitor this situation in camp to see who emerges as the number 3.
The Falcons have an exciting WR group led by Julio Jones of course. Julio led the league in receiving yards last year with 1,677 and also led the league in targets with 170. The knock on him is that he does not score TDs but he tallied 8 in 2019, mostly in the second half of the season. Julio is a perfect candidate for those drafting in the 12th spot this year as he has true WR1 upside and is the favorite to lead the league in receiving yards again. Behind Julio is rising second year WR Calvin Ridley. Ridley had a tremendous run in weeks 2-4 last year, scoring 6TDs and totaling 277yds in these three games. Most of the coverage was focused on Julio so teams were not paying close attention to Ridley. After this run, Ridley cooled off but had a few splash games throughout the rest of the year. He finished his rookie campaign with 64rec, 821yds and 10TDs on 92 targets. We should expect a bump in his targets, receptions and yards but to expect another 10TDs seems to be a bit much. I prefer him more in a best ball draft but he should finish somewhere around where he was last year, which was WR20. Don’t forget about Mohamed Sanu here. Sanu finished as WR31 in PPR leagues and is one of my favorite best ball targets late in drafts. We should expect a little more Ridley and a little less Sanu, but Sanu still had 9 games over double digits last year in PPR leagues and will be the WR with the least attention on him. I’m expecting another 60-65 receptions, 750yds and 4-5 TDs on roughly 90 targets. After this top 3, we have Justin Hardy, Russell Gage and rookie Marcus Green, drafted in the 6th round. They also brought in 4 UDFA WRs so we will need to watch this camp battle to see which rookies make the roster.
Austin Hooper leads this veteran group of TEs for the Falcons. Atlanta did not sign or draft any TEs so we can expect similar playing time from last year. Hooper had a career season and finished as TE6 but was very inconsistent. He’ll remain a better best ball target for me over redraft. He had 6 games out of 16 where he finished in double digits, sprinkled among many 5s and 7s. Hooper finished with 71rec, 660yds and 4 TDs on 88 targets. I’m open to him having similar numbers but am hoping to see a little more consistency. Behind him we have Logan Paulsen, Eric Saubert and Luke Stocker, none of which have any fantasy use for us unless Hooper misses time.
2017-2018 Stats Below: