Most people do not remember how good of a season Matt Ryan had in 2018. This is probably because we tend to have short memories and they are filled with Patrick Mahomes throwing bombs to Tyreek Hill and finishing the season with an astounding 50 passing touchdowns. Ryan quietly finished behind Mahomes as the QB2 and his end of the year statistics were very similar to when he won the MVP in 2016. In his MVP campaign, Ryan had 4,944 yards, 38 touchdowns, seven interceptions, and a completion percentage of 69.9%. In 2018, Ryan finished with 4,924 yards, 35 touchdowns, seven interceptions, and a completion percentage of 69.4%. You might want to read those numbers again because they are almost identical.
Ryan will not have to compete against Mother Nature very often because the Falcons play 13 out of 16 games indoors and they start the season with nine straight indoor games. According to our Strength of Schedule metric, Ryan also benefits from only having to play against three top ten defenses, Minnesota, Arizona, and Jacksonville. However, Arizona might not be a top ten defense when they face off against the Falcons because they will be without their top cornerback, Patrick Peterson, who was suspended for the first six games of the season.
Another positive note is Ryan will be reuniting with old offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. Prior to joining the Tampa Bay coaching staff, Koetter was the coordinator with Matt Ryan for three straight seasons, 2012-2014. The Falcons also addressed their offensive line issues by using both first-round draft picks to select offensive linemen, Chris Lindstrom and Kaleb McGary. Starting running back, Devonta Freeman is back after suffering multiple injuries last year and Ryan’s receiving group, Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Mohamed Sanu, and Austin Hooper, is the exact same.
It is safe to expect some negative regression in total passing attempts under new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter. Under former offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian, Atlanta passed the ball in 2018 at the third-highest rate, 65%, in the entire league, second to only Green Bay and Pittsburgh, both at 67%. Some of this can be credited to Sarkisian’s style, especially in the red zone, but the offense frequently found themselves in shootouts because their defense was littered with injuries and gave up a lot of points. CB Ricardo Allen missed 13 games, safety Keanu Neal missed 15 games, and LB Deion Jones missed 10 games. Expect the defense to be healthier this season. This will take pressure off the offense and could result in some less passing opportunities for Ryan.
2019 Bottom Line
Ryan has the potential to finish consecutive seasons as a top-five fantasy quarterback. The team added talent to the offensive line via the NFL draft and Ryan’s receiving group, Jones, Ridley, Sanu, and Hooper is the exact same as last year. He will also face the thirteenth easiest quarterback schedule, according to 4for4's schedule-adjusted fantasy points allowed.