NFC South Round-Up: Falcons, Ryan, Fantasy Sleepers

Matt Ryan took a step back in 2017 under offensive coordinator Steve Sarkisian but a closer look at the number indicates that his decline might be overblown, writes Brett Rollins of Pro Football Focus (subscription required).

Ryan had just a 79.0 passer rating on throws over 20 yards in 2017, compared to a fantastic 136.1 rating in 2016. He also was one of the worst QBs in PFF’s big-time throw category. Still, the site gave him the second-best grade overall at the position last season.

2016 2017
PFF Grade 91.1 (2nd) 90.0 (2nd)
Adjusted Completion Percentage 78.1% (4th) 76.4% (5th)
QB Rating vs. Pressure 86.6 (3rd) 70.8 (14th)
QB Rating Deep 136.1 (1st) 79.0 (21st)
QB Rating Play Action 118.2 (4th) 98.3 (19th)
Big-Time Throw % 5.4% (8th) 3.8% (28th)
Turnover-Worthy Throw % 2.4% (11th) 0.9% (1s

Rollins notes that Ryan was subjected to the worst drop rate in the league on third down and six of his turnovers were on non-turnover worthy throws. In all, the use of slightly different personnel and a bit of positive regression should help to get Ryan closer to his peak this season.

Atlanta Falcons
2017 Wins 10
2018 Win Total (Bovada) 9
Total DVOA rank 3rd

Here’s more on the NFC South:

  • The Falcons backfield is one of the best in the league, though when the team uses Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman together, Ryan’s passing suffers. He had just a 54.5 passer rating with the duo on the field last season. That was actually up from the 39.0 he earned in 2016.
  • The Saints have released running back Terrance West. With Mark Ingram suspended for the first four games, the Saints will need someone to step up and West was thought to be the man for the job. After his release, New Orleans is left with Jonathan Williams, Shane Vereen, Boston Scott, and Trey Edmunds behind breakout star Alvin Kamara.
  • The Panthers made a few additions to their wide receiving corp during the offseason, but this season’s fantasy football sleeper at the position might have already been on the roster, Tristan H. Cockcroft of ESPN.com speculates. The scribe lists Curtis Samuel as a player who could break out this season. In the two post-Kelvin Benjamin-trade games prior to his injury last season, Samuel played 64.6% of the snaps and received a 20.3% target share from Cam Newton.

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