The Atlanta Falcons have some deeply intriguing players in fantasy football this year, and I'm here to talk about what kind of numbers they might hit over the course of the 2014 season. The catch? We're doing it over/under style, or at least over/under in the narrowest definition of the term.
Please note that I am sticking to offense here, but I'll be happy to share my thoughts on defensive stats if you're one of the poor souls who plays in an IDP league.
Matt Ryan: OVER 4,500 yards
This is an easy one for me. Ryan surpassed 4,500 each of the last two seasons, and he did so last year despite having no Julio Jones and a hobbled Roddy White, plus a terrible line and a lackluster ground game. In 2012, his most successful season, he hit 4,700 without much problem.
With a better line and healthy options again, I think Ryan shouldn't have any problem getting to those heights, even without Tony Gonzalez.
Matt Ryan: OVER 30 touchdowns
This is a bit more of a gamble. Ryan's only thrown for 30-plus once, in 2012, and even then it was only 32. The Falcons have always liked to get into the red zone and give their backs a chance, and they boot plenty of field goals. I do think the Falcons will more aggressive about taking downfield strikes in 2014, and with Julio Jones, Roddy White and team speed at receiver, I expect some of those to translate to touchdowns in a way they have not in years past. Put me down for around 32 again.
Steven Jackson: UNDER 1,000 yards
Injuries, on the wrong side of the age-30 wall, with a hungry young running back and Antone Smith to feed behind him? Yeah, I think Jackson will fall a little short of these heights. However...
Steven Jackson: OVER 5 touchdowns
I'm going with a modest total here because touchdowns are so unpredictable, but if Jackson's healthy even half the year, he's going to tote the rock near the goal line over Devonta Freeman, Jacquizz Rodgers and Antone Smith. Eight touchdowns is not out of reach.
Devonta Freeman: OVER 500 combined yards
Freeman's too dynamic a runner and pass catcher to keep penned in for long. If Jackson's hurt he'll smash by this modest total easily, but even if he's seeing limited touches I imagine he'll have no problem getting 500+ yards. Don't look for many touchdowns in 2014, though.
Julio Jones & Roddy White: UNDER 1,500 yards receiving each
On paper, this is a stupid tack to take. The Falcons are down to two primary targets in Jones and White, both are great players and Matt Ryan's still going to air the ball out plenty. Yet it's not hard for me to envision both falling short, Jones perhaps by only 100 yards or so.
Why? The Falcons are going to run more, they're going to utilize their stable of pass-catching backs more and Harry Douglas, Devin Hester and perhaps even Bernard Reedy are going to get their opportunities. I'd say the duo combines for 2,700-2,800 yards.
Levine Toilolo: OVER 5 touchdowns
Toilolo is 6'8", seems to be improving and can catch the ball against most corners simply by raising his hands in the air. You want to bet against him getting at least six touchdowns? Knock yourself out.
Sound off on your over/under choices in the comments.
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