With Julio Jones, this new-look Falcons offense led by Arthur Smith seemed poised to capture the magic from 2016 that broke multiple records. Without Jones, Ryan’s fantasy outlook dims. Last season in games with Jones, Matty Ice posted a 90.9 PFF passing grade, 15 touchdowns, three interceptions, 106.4 passer rating, 8.3 yards per attempt — 21.1 fantasy points per game in standard leagues. Without him, the veteran quarterback’s number dipped — posting a 67.2 PFF passing grade, 11 touchdowns, eight interceptions, 82.9 passer rating, 6.6 yards per attempt, and 14.5 fantasy points per game in standard leagues.
There is a sense the addition of Arthur Smith will have a positive correlation with Ryan’s fantasy value, but how the Julio Jones trade affects his fantasy outlook should be noted. I believe Ryan’s floor is solid enough to take in middle-to-later rounds in some draft strategies, but the upside is hindered by the uncertainty of Atlanta’s offense under a first-year head coach.
The fact that Smith should be an improvement from Dirk Koetter bodes well for Ryan’s outlook post-trade, but his supporting cast must not be undervalued either. Atlanta can handle the loss better than most teams would of an equal caliber player as Jones. With Calvin Ridley, Ryan still has an elite pass-catcher to target as the pair showed in 2020, while Jones missed time with a lingering hamstring injury — averaging a 30% target share and nearly 20 fantasy points per game.
Calvin Ridley | 2020
|Yards per route run||Passer rating||Receiving touchdowns||Target share||Fantasy points per game|
|With Julio Jones||2.29||135.8||6||24%||23.3|
|Without Julio Jones||2.76||91.1||3||30%||19.8|
The team also drafted Kyle Pitts with the fourth pick in the 2021 draft, a certified freak. The former Florida Gator isn’t Julio Jones, but he threatens defenses in more ways than one. Pitts can algin anywhere from the boundary to the backfield and run nearly every route out of any set. He’ll help Ryan’s numbers in the redzone and increase the unit’s third-down conversion rate, which inherently gives Ryan more chances to rack up points.
When talking about Ryan’s fantasy outlook, the only other thing to consider is his opponents, which isn’t great considering Tampa Bay and New Orleans boast two of the best defenses in the league. Atlanta also plays Washington in the fourth week of the season after playing an underrated Giants’ defense — a rough start. All things considered, Ryan likely gets drafted in the later rounds of fantasy drafts but does have high upside as a potential bench option.