2017 Fantasy Football Preview: Atlanta Falcons

Michael Kelley

I have been playing fantasy football since 1991. My first draft I had the first pick and the first player I ever drafted was Randall Cunningham. I remember that because he broke his leg in the first series of the season. Since then I have been hooked on fantasy football and I have not and will not ever draft a QB in the first round again.

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2016 Fantasy Recap

Everyone remembers how the Falcons season ended last year, but few really understand how awesome it was. The Falcons played a complete game with terrific balance. Matt Ryan had his best year as a pro, including an NFL record of hitting 13 different receivers for touchdowns. Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman dominated the backfield with 1,600 yards and 19 touchdowns. Julio Jones was his usual super self, and four other receivers caught over 400 yards. Tight end might have been the weak spot on the team. The starting tight end went down early and from thereafter
second best production from the position was limited. Even the defense played better than expected. So the question on everyone’s mind is, will there be a hangover? I think not.

Key Additions and Losses

Additions:

Losses:

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Quarterback Fantasy Outlook

Just about any Falcon starter is worth drafting this will be more about expectations than anything else. I love Matt Ryan and have been a supporter of him from day one in the NFL. Last year was special for him. He almost always plays well enough to be a low QB1 option, but last year was he best by far. So will he repeat last years numbers? I think not, but he should still be a very solid QB1. Last year he finished as the second-best quarterback, depending on scoring of course, and this year I see him slipping a little bit. Not much, but maybe down a few spots to the five to seven range. He should throw for over 4,500 yards and around 33 touchdowns. The most important thing he needs to do is keep the interceptions down, last year he only threw seven total compared
to his usual mid-teens. If he does that he should have no problem returning to the top ten if not the top five among quarterbacks this year.

Grade: A

Running Back Fantasy Outlook

Two years ago everyone thought Tevin Coleman was going to come in and take Devonta Freeman’s job that he so patiently waited for. Early on it looked like it would happen but one Freeman got healthy and his opportunity he never looked back. Last year everyone was saying no way Freeman can repeat his numbers from the year before, for the record I did you can check out my Flacons team preview from last year: http://goingfor2.com/2016-fantasy-football-preview-atlanta-falcons/. To be honest, I did predict a slight slip and for the most part, I was pretty close and I was even accurate about Coleman’s role as well. Bottom line Freeman is draftable in the first round, even in PPR leagues and draft him with confidence. As far as Coleman goes he is one of the best backup running backs to have. Even playing behind Freeman he can still be a low RB2 and getting him in the fifth round is a good spot to target him.

Grade: A

Wide Receiver Fantasy Outlook

Julio Jones is a sure-fire first round pick and should be treated as such. Nothing else needs to be said about him. The questions come in surrounding Mohamad Sanu and Taylor Gabriel‘s value. Sanu was a solid play last year, but nothing really startable week to week. I am not sure his number will improve but they should pretty much stay the same. Right around 60 receptions for 650 yards and five or six touchdowns. Meaning at best he is a spot starter in desperate situations. The one with the most potential to play on your fantasy roster is Gabriel. He started a little slow last year but caught on as the year progressed and showed some speed will taking bubble screens, end-arounds, and deep bombs all to the house last year. This guy makes the most out of every touch he gets. Which leads us to my biggest concern with him and that is some weeks he could actually put of less than 5 points, while other weeks he goes off for 25 and both weeks he might only get four touches. Any way you look at unless you are in a 14 team or more league you probably wont be targeting either of the guys behind Jones, unless you have Jones and you want a backup plan in case he goes down.

Grade: A

Tight End Fantasy Outlook

I am usually not very big on tight ends, but something about Austin Hooper makes me wonder what he can be. He has good size, good speed, and great hands. I really think he can take the next step in his career, but I am not suggesting top eight here to be clear. But I do think he upside could put him around the number 12 tight end. Considering you can land him in the 12th round or later and he is going off the board as the 19th best tight end I think that is a great bargain worth taking a flier on. I can see him pulling in 60 receptions for 700 yards and five touchdowns, which would be enough to land him just inside the top 12. So if you miss out on the big guys feel free to take a chance and snag Hooper late in your draft and enjoy the very possible upside to him.

Grade: B-

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Defensive Fantasy Outlook

Last year the Falcons were middle of the road in just about every defensive category. But as the season went on they seemed to improve. So after spending most of their draft picks on the defensive side of the ball, the Falcons are looking to continue their improvement on that side of the ball. The biggest thing against the Falcons defense is having to play the Bucs and the Saints twice a year, but outside of those games they should be pretty solid and a good team to stream many weeks throughout the season.

Grade: B

Michael Kelley is a member of the Going For 2 team. You can check out his website Dynasty League Problems for more writings or find him on Twitter @mikekelleydlp spreading fantasy knowledge for the masses.


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I have been playing fantasy football since 1991. My first draft I had the first pick and the first player I ever drafted was Randall Cunningham. I remember that because he broke his leg in the first series of the season. Since then I have been hooked on fantasy football and I have not and will not ever draft a QB in the first round again.

Latest posts by Michael Kelley (see all)

Michael Kelley

I have been playing fantasy football since 1991. My first draft I had the first pick and the first player I ever drafted was Randall Cunningham. I remember that because he broke his leg in the first series of the season. Since then I have been hooked on fantasy football and I have not and will not ever draft a QB in the first round again.

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