It’s not truly a new NFL season until the Falcons disappoint their fanbase and look completely unprepared in Week 1 of it.
After a very competitive and entertaining first half (the scoreline was 14-12 heading into the break), the Falcons laid an egg in the second half and dropped to 0-1 for the third consecutive season and for the fourth time in five years.
The good news is that the offense put up some points and racked up plenty of yardage, which no doubt made many fantasy owners happy.
For the past couple of years, I’ve done this article series looking at one standout Falcons fantasy performer and one Falcons player who didn’t play up to fantasy expectations, every week. It’s a series which is getting reprised for a third season.
Only fantasy relevant players will be featured in this series. A wide receiver at the end of the bench or a 4th string running back who isn’t on anybody’s fantasy team will not be looked at.
There is a lot of great content available here at the Falcoholic, and I encourage you to check it out if you want some in-depth analysis. This article will look at things strictly from a fantasy football perspective (that means looking at nothing other than purely statistics). Here is Atlanta’s fantasy stud and fantasy dud from Week 1’s defeat against the Seattle Seahawks.
Fantasy Stud/Dud 2019 History:
Past Studs: Austin Hooper (3), Julio Jones (3), Younghoe Koo (2), Matt Ryan (2), Calvin Ridley (2), Atlanta Falcons D/ST (1), Russell Gage (1), Devonta Freeman (1)
Past Duds: Calvin Ridley (3), Matt Ryan (3), Austin Hooper (2) Devonta Freeman (1), Mohamed Sanu (1), Julio Jones (1), Mohamed Sanu (1), Matt Bryant (1), Brian Hill (1), Younghoe Koo (1)
Fantasy Stud - Calvin Ridley
Stat Line - 9 catches, 130 receiving yards, 2 receiving touchdowns, 1 carry, -1 rushing yards: 24.90 standard league points/33.90 PPR points
Atlanta had a trio of magnificent performances from their top three wide receivers, as each one had nine receptions (on 12 targets) and went over 100 receiving yards.
Ridley was the only one of them to find the endzone, however, and he did it twice. Yes, it’s true that he scored his TDs in “garbage time” when the game was already out of hand but that doesn’t matter in the slightest — the fantasy points all count the same.
Ridley was thought of as a popular breakout candidate in fantasy drafts, settling in with an ADP around the fourth round for 12-team leagues, and he delivered on that investment today. DeVante Adams is the only WR who outscored Ridley in PPR leagues as of the conclusion of the Sunday games.
Falcons #18 has now scored 19 touchdowns in 30 career games, demonstrating an incredible nose for the end zone. Fantasy owners will be quite happy if he keeps that pace up.
Hayden Hurst - 3 catches, 38 receiving yards: 3.8 standard league points/6.8 PPR points
With Gage, Ridley, and Jones combined for a staggering 36 targets between them, there just weren’t enough Matt Ryan passes to go around.
The clear villain in this game was the Atlanta Falcons defense/special teams unit, which was repeatedly gashed by chunk plays and which forced no turnovers. They scored a grand total of -1 points today, but nobody should have been starting Atlanta’s D/ST against Russell Wilson and the Seahawks offense.
Hurst was a popular sleeper selection in many fantasy drafts, with the expectation being that he would soak up a majority of the 97 targets from 2019 that Austin Hooper vacated when he went to Cleveland. Today, it was Russell Gage who was the clear beneficiary of those extra targets over the middle of the field.
Hurst had a spectacular diving 27-yard reception to help set up a first quarter touchdown, but he had just two catches for 11 yards the rest of the afternoon.
Just like with Hooper last year there will be ebbs and flows for Hurst, who steps into the role of Matt Ryan’s safety blanket in 2020. However, it seems that Gage will likely give him more direct competition for that specific role than what Hooper saw in 2019. Even though I wouldn’t expect a season as good as Hooper’s last year, Hurst should still be a fine fantasy option moving forward.