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Falcons fantasy football series: Defense & special teams

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Should you draft Falcons’ special teamers and defense? Well...

NFL: Preseason-Washington Redskins at Atlanta Falcons Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

Uns

We’re on to the Falcons’ special teams and defense, and if we were to suggest to you that those units might be a mixed bag for fantasy purposes, you would probably not hold that against us.

On one hand, Matt Bryant has been one of the most reliable fantasy kickers and a consistent producer with a decent-to-great Falcons offense. The defense has been a surprisingly solid bye week pickup against the right matchup, but it hasn’t been an effective fantasy unit in many, many years. Given that, should you draft Falcons defense and special teams in 2016?

Average draft position

Unsurprisingly, no one on the Falcons’ special teams or defense is making the Fantasy Football Calculator’s ADP list. Bryant is no sure thing after last year, and the Falcons’ defense just hasn’t been good enough. You shouldn’t plan to draft Bryant unless you’re in a keeper format, and you shouldn’t draft the Falcons’ defense at all.

If you’re in an IDP format, that changes, of course. More on that in a bit.

2016 outlook

We all think Bryant is going to be the kicker in 2016, but we don’t know that, and that makes it tough to project. If the offense improves and Bryant stays healthy, which isn’t unreasonable to expect, he should be a top 20 kicker at minimum, and potentially top 15. That makes him a nice fit as a second kicker on your team, if you’re in the kind of league that rewards that.

Defensively, the Falcons just aren’t likely to be worth it just yet. There are a handful of useful IDP options, but the entire unit is likely to be competent at best. Check back in 2017.

Key IDP options

  • Deion Jones. You’re taking a risk with him, because he hasn’t been named the starter yet, but he’s very fast and should be taking over for Paul Worrilow, who was a tackling machine the last few years. Jones should break 100 tackles easily, and add a handful of big plays along the way.
  • Robert Alford. He’s the man likeliest to watch away with several interceptions this year, and he’s a solid enough tackler to help your tally there, too.
  • Keanu Neal. He’s better as a pickup, given that he’ll miss a couple of weeks, but I fully expect him to mix some cringe-worthy errors with big hits and big plays, like a young William Moore once did. He’s worth a look at safety.