Falcons- Scheme and Metrics Preview

Scheme and Metrics- we’ll take a look at each of the 32 teams and look at a combination of offensive scheme/philosophy and some player metrics to give us something else to think about when drafting our fantasy squads this summer. In this edition, we’ll look at the Atlanta Falcons.

The Falcons have been a fantasy-friendly offense for a number of years, but there are sure to be some subtle changes in player values this season.

Coaching

• OC Steve Sarkisian is out after two uninspiring seasons, and Dirk Koetter, who was the Falcons’ OC earlier this decade, is in.

• The Falcons had a high-powered offense under Sarkisian but struggles in the red zone led to the team missing too many scoring opportunities, but Koetter was just 24th in the league when he was running the offense in his last job in Tampa Bay.

• I don’t see the Falcons making wholesale changes on offense, and I don’t believe Koetter is a guy who will use analytics to take this unit to the next level.

Metrics
• Calvin Ridley is a popular breakout candidate after posting 821 yards and 10 TDs as a rookie, but 200 yards and five TDs of that total came in Weeks Two and Three combined. My concern is that his combine numbers that measure explosiveness were at the second percentile and his agility is below average. Between those uninspiring numbers and the fact that he scored a TD once for every 6.4 receptions seems unsustainable.

• Austin Hooper’s been steadily improving in each of his three years in the league. Between 81st percentile agility and well above-average speed, he’s a player who still has room to improve, but it should be noted that he did see his snap-share go from the 80% range to the 60% range as the season progressed, but it didn’t have much impact on his production.

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Player notes
• Some people shy away from drafting Julio Jones because they feel he’s an injury risk, however, he’s missed just three games over the past five years, which makes him very durable. He’s also seen as a player who can’t score TDs, but he’s found the end zone at least six times in four of the last five seasons while posting at least 1,400 yards in five-straight seasons.

• Devonta Freeman is still only 27-years-old, and after missing 13 games last year between knee and foot sprains, he’s mostly being written off as a top-level fantasy performer, and maybe that’s true. But I wouldn’t simply make that decision on last year’s injuries because he only missed a pair of games in the three years prior- of course, during the last five years, he’s had three concussions, so that is troubling.

• Mohamed Sanu isn’t a star, but he’s averaged four TDs and over 700 yards in his three years with Atlanta. It’s unlikely he just disappears in the offense while Calvin Ridley takes over a full-time role.

My advice-
• The coaching change should have no impact on the passing game, so I’d draft Matt Ryan and Julio Jones with the expectation that’ll they’ll post similar numbers to what they’ve had over the past few seasons.

• I’m not buying Calvin Ridley at an ADP that’s expecting a second-year breakout because his metrics show that he’s likely an above-average deep threat, but not much more.

• If I need a RB in the third round and if the top options are gone, Devonta Freeman is in play for me- with a pass offense that defenses must focus upon, Freeman will rarely see light boxes. Also, his backups are largely unimpressive, so he should see a solid workload. Finally, Dirk Koetter has never been shy about calling pass plays to his RBs.

• Although Austin Hooper posted good numbers last year, I don’t feel he’ll be ever be the type of player who’ll command targets, so I prefer other TE options.