Posted by Anthony Stalter
Saturday, July 21, 2018 - 5:46pm
One year removed from winning league MVP and finishing as fantasy's QB2, Matt Ryan saw a regression in 2017, dropping to QB15. Everyone remembers Ryan's career-season in 2016 but few recall when the Atlanta signal-caller struggled in his first season under Kyle Shanahan, finishing the 2015 season with just 21 touchdowns and 16 interceptions.
Steve Sarkisian took a lot of heat for Atlanta's offensive performance in 2016 but a regression was bound to happen. He attempted to utilize the same offensive concepts that Shanahan used in 2016 but mostly failed. The Falcons did show improvement offensively in the second half of the season, however, and Sarkisian says he's more comfortable in year two. Assuming Julio Jones' contract dispute doesn't carry into the regular season, Ryan will once again have one of the best supporting casts in football. The team even added outstanding route runner Calvin Ridley in the first round of the draft to complement Jones, Muhammad Sanu, Devonta Freeman, Tevin Coleman, and tight end Austin Hooper. Ryan and Sark should make a better pairing in 2018 and thus, Ryan should see a bump in production from a year ago.
Ryan and the Falcons suffered a significant regression in 2017, with the biggest problems coming in the red zone. Atlanta dropped from first in points per game at 33.8 to 15th in 2017 at 22.1. Ryan also saw his touchdown rate drop from 7.1 percent to 3.8 percent. While the players are culpable for that regression, Sarkisian was at the root of the team's red zone woes. Despite fans' pleas to get Jones the ball more inside the 20, one could argue Sark relied too heavily on passes to wide receivers. If Sarkisian doesn't improve his playcalling inside the red area, it won't matter how many weapons Ryan has around him, his fantasy production will remain tempered.
2018 Bottom Line
Ryan suffered a regression in 2016 but it's not as if his production completely fell off the map. His completion rate (64.7%) and yards per pass attempt (7.7) were in line with his career numbers. If his touchdown rate jumps back to his career norm of 4.6 percent, then he'll be well worth a selection on draft night. In fact, given his current ADP of 12.05 in 10-team leagues, Ryan is a great value pick heading into fantasy drafts this season. Much like his MVP season in 2016, he's a positive regression candidate for 2018.