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Atlanta Falcons Fantasy Football Preview

Todd Gurley
Falcons have added Todd Gurley, will he be able to shine in Fantasy Football? Check out what Craig Forrestal thinks!

By Craig Forrestal

The problem hasn’t been with the offense the last few seasons as the defense has been inconsistent and battled through some critical injuries. The defense got a boost from Raheem Morris when he was given defensive play-calling responsibilities. It will be interesting to see if the defense can carry that momentum over to this season because if so the defense could have some streaming appeal. Offensively, the addition of Todd Gurley has provided hope that maybe the run game can aid the passing attack. The Falcons are looking to build on a season that ended at 7-9 but the NFC South always has a way of being unpredictable.

Schedule

  • Week 1: Seahawks
  • Week 2: @ Cowboys
  • Week 3: Bears
  • Week 4: @ Packers
  • Week 5: Panthers
  • Week 6: @ Vikings
  • Week 7: Lions
  • Week 8: @ Panthers
  • Week 9: Broncos
  • Week 10: Bye
  • Week 11: @ Saints
  • Week 12: Raiders
  • Week 13: Saints
  • Week 14: @ Chargers
  • Week 15: Buccaneers
  • Week 16: @ Chiefs
  • Week 17: @ Buccaneers

Players To Know

  • Matt Ryan-QB: Matt Ryan is good. Plus he throws the ball a ton. Offensive Coordinator Dirk Koetter isn’t quite allergic to running the ball but he sure is committed to passing the ball. In 2019, the Falcons threw the ball 684 times and ran it 362 times. They averaged a league-high 42.8 attempts per game in 2019. Yes, Todd Gurley is on the team and he will get his; but not nearly like Matt Ryan and the pass catchers will. I expect the per game pass number to drop to about 38 attempts per game; which was the 2018 per game average and still good for a Top 5 finish in the most passing attempts category. I am expecting Matty Ice to turn in another solid season with totals around 4500 passing yards and 29 TDs; which would be a Top 10 season. Until proven otherwise I like Matt Ryan for fantasy football.
  • Todd Gurley-RB: Todd Gurley just goes to show you how the NFL also stands for Not For Long. Just a few years ago people were talking about Gurley as the elite NFL RB and fast forward 18-24 months and now people are wondering if he will ever be a workhorse back again. Sheesh, talk about rough. But it is true. This season Gurley is on a one-year deal and the Falcons will give him ample opportunity to show what he has left in the tank. If Gurley can remain healthy, I expect him to be a high-end RB2. His season totals should be somewhere around 1150-1200 total yards and 10 total TDs.
  • Ito Smith/Qadree Ollison/Brian Hill-RB: All three RBs got work towards the end of last season and they will battle it out for the #2 RB behind Todd Gurley. Of the three, I prefer Ito Smith. Smith is smaller (5ft9/195) but he has a tough running style in a compact frame. Smith has shown good vision and enough burst to get effective yardage when he has been used. While Hill and Ollison both offer traits that Smith lacks it is Smith that will be the first man to get a crack a the work should Gurley miss any games. Outside of that, the fantasy impact will be minimal.
  • Julio Jones-WR: Julio Jones is something special. He has finished in the Top 5 of fantasy WRs in each of the last three seasons, and in this pass-happy offense, he seems like a lock to repeat for a fourth consecutive season. The odd thing is for his dominance he doesn’t score very often. So while the catches and yards will be dominant his scores won’t and it will lead to frustrating weeks. For example, 10 catches for 166 yards and 0 TD. That was his stat line from the 2019 game against Jacksonville. There are a few other games like this so be prepared. But even with the lack of TDs, he is still worthy of a very high pick overall. 100 catches for 1500 yards and 5 TDs.
  • Calvin Ridley-WR: Could the Falcons offense support to WR1 types for the entire season? Quite simply, the answer is yes. Ridley has posted back-to-back 60 catch and 800-yard seasons and is poised to take a leap forward following the departure of Austin Hooper. For me, Ridley is going to be the Chris Godwin of 2020. 80 catches for 1100 yards and 10 TDs. I wish there was more to say but don’t overthink it.
  • Hayden Hurst-TE: There is nobody I want to target more in later rounds than Hayden Hurst. The Dirk Koetter Offense loves the TE. Look at TE production under Koetter in Tampa Bay and Atlanta. Hurst is an interesting fantasy sleeper. He is being drafted way late and has the opportunity to maybe sneak into the Top 5 of TEs. I do not expect him to have Austin Hooper numbers but something like 60 catches for 750 yards and 6 TDs isn’t wild to expect. Draft Hurst if you can.

Defense

Once Raheem Morris took over the play calling duties the defense seemed to be reborn. The defense was better down the stretch allowing the finally giving the team a chance to compete. While it was a down season the defensive strides at the end of the year leave a glimmer of hope for 2020. The Falcons put a strong emphasis on defense in the draft using 4 of 6 picks on defensive players. This should add depth to a unit that was destroyed by injuries last season. If this defense can stay healthy they are an intriguing streaming option. One of my favorite sleepers from the 2020 NFL Draft is Mykal Walker.

Potential Breakout Player

  • Calvin Ridley-WR

Rookie To Know

  • None
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