With free agency, the 2018 NFL Draft, and OTAs all in the rearview mirror, it’s finally time for us to start talking a little bit of fantasy football! Truthfully, it’s still quite early—but rosters are more or less settled heading into training camp and the fantasy football experts have begun releasing their rankings. Plenty of mock drafts have also been taking place, which means we have some data to work with regarding the ADP (Average Draft Position, for those who don’t know) of relevant fantasy players.
The early news is pretty heartening if you’d like to have Falcons’ on your fantasy roster in 2018. Heading into the 2017 season and coming off a historic offensive (and fantasy) performance, many Atlanta players were flying off the board far earlier than they should have. That led to savvy owners like myself missing out on plenty of our favorite guys. This year, things are looking a little more similar to 2016 fantasy drafts—the Falcons are being perennially underrated by many fantasy owners.
Recency bias is a real thing, and it’s a big problem among everyone from novice fantasy players all the way up to the big experts. It’s hard to get over the fact that a player burned you after you drafted them highly the year before. However, the message that we all need to learn is this: football is a highly variable game, and things change every single year. As much as you’re able, try to approach your fantasy draft with a clear mind and a reasonable approach. Evaluate each situation as if last year never happened, and you’ll be much more flexible with who you can select.
This doesn’t mean to ignore history and trends with players altogether—more that using the immediate previous season as a predictor of future success is unreliable at best. Don’t forget about injuries, either, which arrive without warning to wreck even the most carefully crafted of fantasy rosters.
Anyway, enough of me babbling on about fantasy game theory and draft strategies. You’re here to see which Falcons could be great values for your fantasy team in 2018. The good news is that, well, pretty much all of them are slotted at ADPs that are either fair or excellent for their projected production.
All of these ADP numbers are taken from Fantasy Football Calculator, and are based on 12-team PPR league mock drafts. For those that don’t know how to read ADP numbers, 1.02 means first round, second pick. 2.05 means second round, fifth pick. And so on.
2017 ADP: 5.08 (QB4)
2018 ADP: 10.10 (QB15)
Ryan was incredibly overdrafted in 2017, and for good reason—he was coming off an MVP season which saw him as the top QB in fantasy. However, one of the cardinal rules of good fantasy drafting is to never draft a player at their ceiling. Obviously, there are some exceptions to this—like whoever you draft in the first round—but it holds true nearly everywhere else. Ryan has rarely been a top-5 fantasy QB, and expecting him to repeat the feat was a bit foolish.
But the reaction to Ryan’s “down” fantasy season has been incredibly overblown. His drop in ADP from 2017-2018, a whopping five rounds, is ridiculous. He’s now a very good value as a double-digit round pick, and I’d expect him to rebound with a top-10 fantasy QB season in 2018. Besides, if you draft him here and he’s nothing but a mid-level starter, that’s still pretty good value.
2017 ADP: 1.06 (WR2)
2018 ADP: 2.02 (WR4)
Perhaps the strangest drop in ADP of any Falcons’ player, Julio Jones still had a good fantasy season in 2017. The biggest turn-off to many fantasy owners is that Jones has lacked consistent TD production outside of a few seasons. If you’re playing in PPR, however, TDs are a bit overrated. They help, but they aren’t necessary in producing a winning fantasy team.
Jones is currently available outside of the first round in 12-team leagues. That is completely ludicrous. I don’t know if his ADP will improve as we get closer to the season, but at this point, circle Julio on your draft board as a potential late first-early second round target. Then laugh at your friends if you manage to get him that late.
2017 ADP: 1.07 (RB4)
2018 ADP: 2.07 (RB12)
Another Falcons’ player who was overdrafted in 2017, Freeman was still a good fantasy contributor when he was healthy. His current ADP, in the mid-to-late second round, is a more fair assessment of his fantasy prospects. The issue with Freeman is that he’s likely to continue to split time with Tevin Coleman, and that caps his ceiling a bit. Freeman should be a reliable RB2 with RB1 upside—particularly if Coleman ever leaves the lineup—but don’t draft him expecting another top-10 fantasy season.
Other players of note: RB Tevin Coleman, WR Calvin Ridley, WR Mohamed Sanu, TE Austin Hooper, Falcons D/ST
There are several other Falcons that you should carefully consider adding in the later rounds of your 2018 fantasy draft that are excellent values.
RB Tevin Coleman’s ADP is actually a bit higher this season—he’s now going 6.03 compared to 7.01 in 2017—but that’s still a very good value for a quality FLEX option that has high-end RB1 upside if Freeman ever leaves the line-up.
WR Calvin Ridley is currently sitting at a 10.09 ADP—which is a solid value for him. Ridley is likely to have consistent, early production as a WR3/FLEX option. There’s also the potential for more due to injuries, or the chance that Ridley seizes a larger role in the offense.
WR Mohamed Sanu is being criminally underrated in the wake of the Falcons’ selection of Ridley. Sanu’s ADP is currently 14.03, which basically makes him nothing more than a late-round dart throw. Pick up Sanu towards the end of your draft with the knowledge that you’ll have a reliable, rock-solid FLEX option for the rest of the season.
TE Austin Hooper didn’t have a particularly useful fantasy season in 2017, but he’s currently going undrafted in most leagues. Keep an eye on Hooper in training camp and preseason, and consider scooping him up with your final pick if you’re feeling lucky.
The Falcons D/ST is currently going undrafted in most leagues, as well. I’d draft them with my final pick if the top options were gone. Expect an improved special teams unit, with hopefully more production from the return spot. This defense is also due for some positive turnover regression in 2018, which could translate into plenty of fantasy points.
What do you think of the current draft value of many Falcons’ players? Anyone in particular that you’re circling on your draft board? Are people seriously making the same mistake with Ryan that they made in 2016?