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Falcons fantasy outlooks 2017: Matt Ryan looks to repeat last season’s excellence

The reigning MVP should still be a terrific fantasy quarterback, but temper your expectations a little.

Super Bowl LI - New England Patriots v Atlanta Falcons Photo by Tom Pennington/Getty Images

Fantasy football season will be here before you know it, and some of you crazed souls might even be drafting in July. As a service to the readers we love so much, I thought we’d spin through some of the team’s best fantasy performers from 2016 and see

It all starts with Matt Ryan, who overcame a two year slide to deliver career bests across the board and capture the MVP award in 2016. Everything positive thing we’d ever said about Ryan’s talent and ceiling looked prescient last year, and Ryan delivered one of the best fantasy seasons in the league. If you had him last year, probably after drafting him a few rounds deep, congratulations are due.

Now you need to figure out if Ryan will be a worthy fantasy option again in 2017. To determine that, it helps to take a look back at what he’s done recently, and what’s changed this year.

Let’s take a closer look.

2016 Production

(All stats courtesy RotoWire)

Standard/PPR: 22.6 ppg

3 Year Average: 19.7 ppg

2016 Rank: #2

Matt Ryan’s 2016 looks like an outlier in his broader career, but it definitely looks like an outlier in fantasy. Ryan has just twice averaged more than 20 points per game, while Drew Brees has dipped under 20 points just once, when he averaged 19.9 back in 2010. The debates about how elite Ryan is as a real-world quarterback rage on, but the reality is that he’s never been one in fantasy until 2016.

He was the #2 quarterback in 2016 in more or less every format, however, behind only Aaron Rodgers and his 40 passing touchdowns and four rushing touchdowns. Throwing to Julio Jones and an absurdly talented supporting cast, and with Kyle Shanahan doing excellent work scheming, Ryan was put in a position to thrive and did.

2017 Outlook

Even with age encroaching, Tom Brady, Drew Brees, and Aaron Rodgers are better bets this year for production, and Cam Newton, Jameis Winston, and Marcus Mariota all looking like smarter picks in long-term leagues. That said, Ryan is a slam dunk top ten option playing with a special supporting cast, and in annual formats, he’s easily top five.

If you’re thinking about taking him above the likes of Rodgers, Brees, or Brady, you do need to take a step back and balance your enthusiasm against his history. Ryan has always been a reliable, good fantasy quarterback, but we have exactly one year of phenomenal production to go on here. Even with that great cast returning, Kyle Shanahan No matter how good Ryan is or the team around him is, it’s going to be awfully difficult to repeat the team’s performance from a year ago. That’s just the nature of the beast in the hyper-competitive NFL, where we’ve all seen regression set in (see 2013 Falcons, 2016 Panthers).

If the first three guys on the board are gone and you don’t mind being called a homer, you should absolutely pull the trigger on Ryan, who should provide you another season of 30-plus touchdowns and excellent yardage totals. Just go in without the expectation that he’ll be league MVP again and you’ll enjoy the ride.