Matt Ryan, Fantasy Breakout Player May 6, 2012  |  Chet

I’ve never been a huge fan of Matt Ryan. Not because I didn’t think he was a good quarterback, but I just didn’t see the fantasy potential for him in Atlanta. Michael Turner was the touchdown maker and Roddy White, though a great player, is not a dynamic receiver like Calvin Johnson, Andre Johnson and Larry Fitzgerald. He cannot make a quarterback into a fantasy quarterback by himself. But those were the old Falcons. When they traded up to get Julio Jones last season they made a statement that they were moving in a new direction and that was to put the ball in Matt Ryan’s hands.

With the addition of Julio Jones, Matt Ryan had his best fantasy season yet in 2011.

Ryan has consistently moved up in fantasy points each season and last year he had a career high in passing yards (4,177), touchdowns (29) and passer rating (92.2).  And that was after starting the season very slowly.  In the first 7 games of the season he ranked 15th in TDs and fantasy points and 18th in passing yards. Then in the last 9 games of the season he turned it on and ranked 5th in fantasy points ahead of Newton, Romo, Rivers and Manning.  Take a look for yourself below here.

2011 Game Log

His finish in the playoffs against the Giants wasn’t quite as good, but that should motivate him to improve yet again this season with a more seasoned and hopefully hamstring injury-free Julio Jones and an offensive line that should be bolstered by the addition of three offensive lineman in the draft, including Wisconsin’s Peter Konz, who was regarded as the best center in the draft by many.

The buzz on the Falcons’ offense with Dirk Koettner taking Mike Mularkey’s place at offensive coordinator is more screen passes and more of a vertical passing game. That should help give Jacquizz Rodgers more looks in the screen game as Michael Turner starts to lose some carries as he gets old. Those easier passes should help Ryan’s overall numbers with Rodgers being a dynamic runner after the catch. The whole offense should pick up the tempo with Ryan showing well in the no-huddle offense over the last couple years.

The more vertical passing attack might be a little tougher for Ryan who has had trouble with the deep pass in his career. He does seem to acknowledge this fact and says his off-season program is geared toward pumping iron and gaining arm strength. I’m not one to put much faith in news like that, but it is better than him eating Oreos all off-season.

He is going to be 27 years old at the beginning of the season so he’s just starting his prime years as a NFL quarterback so there is still room for him to keep improving and I believe he’s primed to take a step forward this season. And not that I’m a huge strength of schedule guy, but he does have the easiest schedule against pass defenses going into the season. An increase in yards and TDs seems very much in order and he should have a solid fantasy season. There isn’t much room to move up into the elite fantasy QBs with Rodgers, Brees, Brady and Stafford, but right now he is going as the 11th QB in ADP all the way down in the 7th round. This is after finishing as the 8th best fantasy QB last season. That’s a little odd, but if you miss out on the top guys Ryan should make a nice consolation prize that late in the draft.

4 Responses

  1. Michael says:

    Ryan is my fantasy QB secret (meaning I don’t tell my fellow fantasy players how much I love him so I can still get him cheap). Quietly finished 8th last season and that’s after a crappy start (I realize I’m only repeating the article). Julio came on late in the season after some hammy issues and Rookie learning curves. His production over the last 6 games extrapolates to 72/1,579/21 over a full season (!). A healthy Roddy/Julio combo could make Gabbert look like a fantasy hero, imagine what they’ll do for Matty Ice.

  2. Larry Jilton says:

    Chet, I was glad to find this article as I feel exactly as you do about Ryan breaking out this year. Your article is spot on why I just took him as my QB in the FFPC “Revelations” draft Friday night. He has really improved the last half of the season last year with the addition of Julio Jones. I look for RB J. Rogers to also improve and more involved in the screen passes. Having R. White and a guy named Gonzales doesn’t hurt either. My other QB I look to see improve this year is T.Bay’s Josh Freeman. Keep up the good work!

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