Last year didn’t treat Matt Ryan and the Atlanta Falcons kindly. While Head Coach Dan Quinn didn’t lose his job, Atlanta went 7-9 and missed the playoffs. Ryan threw 14 interceptions, his most since 2015, and fumbled nine times. After an elite performance in 2018, the veteran quarterback looked worn down last season. Ryan’s fantasy football owners also suffered, receiving subpar play from their investment.
Despite last year’s outcome, Ryan should round back into form in 2020. Fantasy football owners will benefit from trusting the 35-year-old. Based on trends from the past eight years and Ryan’s growing supporting cast, the former MVP is sitting pretty.
2019 Matt Ryan Fantasy Football Stats
After scoring the second-most points among quarterbacks in 2018, Ryan experienced a significant decrease in production this past season. According to FantasyPros, the Boston College product ranked 11th with 281.34 points. However, Ryan only trailed tenth and ninth place by less than two points. If Ryan started all 16 games instead of 15, he would’ve easily claimed the ninth spot.
Ordinarily, Ryan is one of the ten best fantasy football quarterbacks. However, missing one game and playing behind one of the NFL’s worst offensive lines limited his production. The added strain placed on Ryan by his limited supporting cast showed in 2019. After averaging under nine interceptions per season between 2016-2018, Ryan threw 14 last year.
While he remained a viable fantasy quarterback, Ryan wasn’t a go-to option last season. His 18.76 points per game ranked tenth, but the veteran remained inconsistent week-to-week.
2020 Matt Ryan Fantasy Projections
Ryan is still one of the best fantasy football quarterbacks. Based on trends from his career, the former MVP is in for a significant bounce-back season in 2020.
Ryan experiences a boom in production every other year. He finished as a top ten fantasy quarterback in 2010, 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018. However, Ryan ranked outside the top ten in 2013, 2015, 2017, and 2019. It’s not an exact science, but an eight to ten-year trend if fairly reliable.
Atlanta’s offense also grew this offseason. Despite losing Austin Hooper, the Falcons got better overall. Chris Lindstrom recovered from an injury and should resume his starting role along the offensive line. Todd Gurley is a big step up from Devonta Freeman. Hopefully, the former All-Pro helps Atlanta’s offense become more diverse.
If the Falcons succeed in taking pressure off of Ryan, the quarterback should match his previous star performances. Between 2012, 2014, 2016, and 2018, Ryan averaged 322.55 fantasy points per season. That average would’ve put Ryan in sixth place last year.
Rank at Position
Remember, fantasy football rankings differ dramatically from normal quarterback rankings. Rushing yards and touchdowns play a much larger role than when evaluating the play of quarterbacks in real life. So, if Ryan ranks below several inferior quarterbacks in this analysis, it’s probably because of an added fantasy component.
Despite finishing 11th in points last season, Ryan projects as a top ten fantasy football quarterback in 2020. The exact list of quarterbacks ahead of Ryan varies depending on who you ask, but here’s a rough overview.
Lamar Jackson dominated fantasy football leagues last year, generating 421.68 points. Even if the reigning MVP takes a step back in 2020, he should still top Ryan’s scoring potential. I’d also rank Patrick Mahomes and Russell Wilson ahead of Ryan. The two perennial MVP candidates both use their legs to get downfield now and then. They’re also two of the best deep-ball passers in the NFL, according to Pro Football Focus.
While Deshaun Watson isn’t in that same elite group yet, he’s getting close. The former Clemson Tiger scored 331.98 points last season, finishing two points behind Wilson and four points behind third place. Losing DeAndre Hopkins should hurt Watson’s production this year, but Ryan can’t match Watson’s output on the ground.
Based purely on current talent, Ryan is a better quarterback than Kyler Murray and is undoubtedly superior to Josh Allen. However, both mobile quarterbacks ranked in the top seven for fantasy points last year. Assuming neither collapses in 2020, Allen and Murray should score more points than Ryan.
Dak Prescott sits in a grey area. He finished second among quarterbacks with 348.78 points last season. However, that was a meteoric increase from his previous career-high of 286.88 points. Based on averages from his first three seasons, Prescott shouldn’t match his 2019 mark this year. Most estimates still place him ahead of Ryan.
Those are the only quarterbacks who currently sit ahead of Ryan in fantasy football projections, which leaves him in eighth place. However, several veterans can subvert the rankings. Drew Brees and Aaron Rodgers could dig up vintage performances while Tom Brady recently joined one of the league’s most high-powered offenses.
I wouldn’t entirely write off Ben Roethlisberger or Carson Wentz either. Wentz has two top-ten finishes during his five-year career, while Big Ben ranked third in 2018 and tenth in 2017.