The season is a couple of months and a couple of weeksaway—and it’s sort of crazy that we’re that close—but your fantasy draft may be a lot closer. If you’re thinking about which Falcons you’re going to draft like the homer you are, we want to help you out, which is why we’ll be taking a closer look at Falcons fantasy production in the coming weeks.
Let’s start with a sleeper to target and a potential disappointment for the upcoming season.
TE Austin Hooper
Yes, we’re doing this again. A year after he was widely predicted to be a breakout candidate, Hooper’s hype is burning low. He finished 14th in receptions, 15th in yards, and 20th in touchdowns among tight ends, making him a high-end TE2 (if you were desperate) low-end TE1 last year. This year, the Falcons are coming off a confluence of events including Steve Sarkisian’s rookie miscues, Matt Ryan throwing picks at an impossibly high, unlucky rate, and late season injuries, and they’ve added a new starting guard and promising rookie receiver. I genuinely think Hooper will have an opportunity to eat, and if he can generate touchdowns at the clip we expected a year ago given his draft position, he should be a steal.
Other candidates for this honor include Calvin Ridley, who will come into the year with relatively modest expectations but the talent to exceed them, and Tevin Coleman, who might very well have a huge contract year, especially if Devonta Freeman is at all slowed to start the year.
WR Calvin Ridley
Yes, I just said Ridley could be a sleeper, and he could be. In all likelihood, though, he’ll have a quieter rookie season than his draft status would indicate, even if I’m very bullish on his long-term potential.
That’s not because of Ridley’s talent or readiness so much as it having many mouths to feed. Julio’s a mortal lock for 120+ targets, Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman need to eat for the passing game to be successful, and Mohamed Sanu and Hooper will get plenty of looks as well. That leaves Ridley to pick up what’s left as a rookie, and unless he develops a quick rapport with Ryan and shows he’s ready to eclipse Sanu as a receiving option, that doesn’t feel all that likely to happen. I think Ridley will be drafted a bit earlier than he should be this year, especially if Julio’s contract drama carries over into training camp, and he’s unlikely to yield big results in year one. Many receivers do not.
Other candidates here include Devonta Freeman, who will be trying to bounce back a bit after an injury-marred 2017, Mohamed Sanu (if you think Ridley will eclipse him early), and of course Matt Ryan if he’s not in for the huge rebound year we think he is.
Let’s hear you weigh in. Who are the likeliest Falcons sleepers and disappointments for fantasy this year?