Last week, I started a deep dive into how the current Atlanta Falcons roster is expected to translate to fantasy football. First up was wide receiver Calvin Ridley who I, like many, expect to have a very good season in 2021. Helping him get there will be quarterback Matt Ryan, who we will be discussing today.
Although not necessarily a hugely popular name in the fantasy football world, Ryan has been one of the more reliable quarterbacks in fantasy. Below is how he’s finished in overall quarterback fantasy points scored since 2016.
- 2020 - 12th
- 2019 - 11th
- 2018 - 2nd
- 2017 - 15th
- 2016 - 2nd
At worst with Ryan, you’re getting a top-15 quarterback, and to be honest, you’re probably not using a high pick on him anyways. What fascinates me about the former league MVP this season is that he will enter 2021 with the best offensive-mind he’s played for since Kyle Shanahan departed for the San Francisco 49ers’ head coaching job in 2017, which would seem to give him a good shot to improve his ranking from a year ago.
Additionally, look at what new head coach Arthur Smith did with Ryan Tannehill. From 2019-2020, Tannehill finished with the 21st and 7th most fantasy points among quarterbacks, respectively. Even with the departure of wide receiver Julio Jones, the addition of tight end Kyle Pitts should lessen any drop off that fantasy owners should fear. Ryan still has Ridley, who was a top-5 wide receiver last year with Jones only playing half of a season, and now with a competent offensive mind at the helm, who knows what Ryan is going to do.
When it comes to predicting Ryan’s 2021 fantasy production, all we can really do is look at what Tannehill did last season and make a guesstimate. Tannehill threw the ball 481 times and recorded 33 passing touchdowns and only 7 interceptions. Compare that to Ryan’s 2020 where he threw 626 times and recorded 26 touchdowns and 11 interceptions. The big outlier being Tannehill had one of, if not the best rushing attack in the NFL. Ryan, well, did not. Insert Smith’s offense which helped take Derrick Henry’s game to the next level, and it could bode well for Ryan if Mike Davis and company can be a threat on the ground.
Overall, I expect Ryan’s numbers to be somewhere in the 550-580 passes, 33 touchdowns and 10 interceptions range. Remember that in 2021, the NFL is going to a 17-game schedule, so when comparing stats from years before, keep this in mind. I don’t expect Davis to get the excessive amount of carries that Henry got in Tennessee but the running back group should play a big role in lowering Ryan’s way-too-high pass attempts count that he’s had for the past few seasons. Ryan’s ADP is currently around 124 which means you can likely get him as low as the double-digit rounds. In my opinion, he’s a high-end QB2 out of the gate and could easily enter low-end QB1 territory quickly, but I understand the hesitation if you have it.