Why You Should Buy the Atlanta Falcons' Passing Attack in Fantasy Football
Over the last five weeks, Matt Ryan hasn't had a single top-12 fantasy football quarterback performance. In PPR leagues, Julio Jones has been a startable, top-24 wide receiver once. And Roddy White's only had one game with more than five catches.
Things haven't been great for Atlanta. After a 2-1 start, the Falcons have lost five straight, including games to the Vikings and Bears. The defense has continued their poor play from last year into this one, and the offense - one that ranked second in the league according to our Net Expected Points (NEP) metrics after three weeks - has dropped as well, playing as an average unit during this five-game stretch.
Fantasy owners are sick of Julio Jones, want to drop Matt Ryan and are ready to dub Roddy White a bust. Not so fast, my friend. Not so fast.
It would be foolish for me to pretend that the Falcons haven't had issues offensively this year. The offensive line is a mess, Steven Jackson has mostly been running like a dad and even Matt Ryan has made poor choices.
It's all sort of happened over this ugly five-week period, where the Falcons are winless while scoring just 17.8 points per game. As a result, the three main fantasy assets in the offense - Ryan, Jones and White - have been suffering.
Take a look at the three player's weekly positional rankings in PPR leagues during this time, with this week's rankings excluding tonight's game.
Remember that Thursday night shellacking against the Buccaneers? That seems so long ago, doesn't it? Since then, Ryan's been a fantasy football QB2, and his wide receiver tandem is barely start-worthy.
Julio Jones owners are probably now visualizing why their team is just 1-4 over the last five weeks.
Well, it's not as bad as it may seem. Take a look at the schedule-adjusted pass defense rankings, according to NEP, of these teams entering Week 8:
|Defensive Passing NEP Rank|
This period of five games has featured three top-10 secondaries, and two more that rank in the top 18. It hasn't exactly been a cakewalk schedule for the passing offense.
And this is a big reason to buy. Though we shouldn't be excited about the offensive line or the ineffective running game, the upcoming schedule is insanely favorable against the pass. Take a look:
|Defensive Passing NEP Rank|
After the team's Week 9 bye, they'll have eight games against teams that mostly rank in the bottom half of the league against the pass, including five contests versus squads that come in 24th or worse.
The bye week is important here though. If you're sitting with a below-average record, you may not want to buy into the big three in Atlanta. But if you're a team ready for a playoff run, snagging Ryan, White and Jones could be game-changing. Especially a playmaker like Julio Jones, who's still seeing significant volume in the offense.
The Falcons may be playing bad football, but things will get easier.