Atlanta Falcons NFL Draft Fantasy Preview
Julio Jones May Get a New Receiving Partner in the Second Round
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The Atlanta Falcons lost their offensive coordinator (Kyle Shanahan) to the 49ers before the 2017 season, and it showed in the offensive performance last season. Scoring was down in all aspects, whether it be through the air or on the ground. Matt Ryan’s touchdown total dipped from 38 down to 20, while Devonta Freeman went from 13 total scores down to eight. The change in philosophy showed some obvious growing pains last season. Another offseason to work within the system could get the Falcons back on track to the Super Bowl team they were just a couple of seasons ago.
While looking at the Fantasy prospects of this offense, the key contributors have lost some luster on their names since last year’s drafts. Ryan now finds himself as a borderline QB1, and if the team can find another weapon outside of Julio Jones, if would only help his potential. The backfield of Freeman and Tevin Coleman has wielded fantasy success before but could become more convoluted in 2018. Freeman now finds himself as a low-end RB1, but when healthy has so much upside, while Coleman now is more of a change-of-pace back in the new system, and will be drafted as a Flex option in most drafts.
Looking ahead to the draft, the Falcons really need to address the position opposite of Jones. He is at a stage in his career where the double coverages are affecting his Fantasy output. Jones continues to put forth WR1 production in PPR leagues, but the lack of scoring is eye-popping. Outside of receiver, look for the Falcons to flirt with a possible addition at tight end while also looking to fill holes on the defense, as well.
Team Needs: DT, WR, TE
Projected Top Three Picks
First Round: Da’Ron Payne, DT Alabama
Second Round: James Washington, WR Oklahoma State
Third Round: Quenton Meeks, CB Stanford
Da’Ron Payne comes into this Falcons defense as a ready-to-play run-stuffing prospect. He can immediately improve the interior of this line and cause havoc in a backfield. His strength and athleticism are a rare combo from an interior lineman. He is great at eating up blockers allowing for linebackers to read plays clean. His defensive abilities against the run are excellent, but his potential as an interior pass rusher on the pro level could exceed what he did in college. Fantasy wise, in IDP formats, he could develop into a nice pickup late in the season where you are required to fill a DT spot.
James Washington could be a selection the Falcons make to replace the departed Taylor Gabriel. He thrives on the chunk play and his ball-tracking ability down the field gives Ryan another possible deep threat to keep the secondary honest. His route running will need some work at this level, which will hinder his potential value in PPR formats. But his ability to get by cornerbacks with his quickness can lead to some late appeal in standard format, 12-team leagues. You could see a Kenny Golladay-type rookie season from Washington if all pans out.
Quenton Meeks projects out to be the tweener-type prospect that could be a value for this Falcons defense. He is technically sound and has the size and strength to play outside at corner. But also has the instincts and tackling ability to fill in as a safety, as well. He is better at press coverage in an aggressive defensive scheme like the Falcons typically like to run. From a Fantasy perspective, he has little to no value in his rookie season in IDP formats.
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