Matt Ryan usually does not get the kind of recognition he deserves as a fantasy football player, and when he finally did coming off NFL MVP recognition, he burned fantasy owners by finishing 15th in fantasy points among quarterbacks. That has fantasy players alike cold on Ryan heading into the 2018 season. According to FantasyPros.com, Ryan is a tier four quarterback, coming in behind Jared Goff and just two spots ahead of first-year starter Patrick Mahomes. While Ryan’s fantasy production has proven to be inconsistent in the past, 2018 is poised to be a monster year for the 2016 MVP.
Ryan’s on the field production has been as reliable as anyone since he came into the league in 2008. He holds the record for the most passing yards by a quarterback through his first nine seasons, but unfortunately, real life success does not always translate in fantasy. However, there is something to be said of Ryan’s passing yards, as it gives him a solid floor in fantasy football. The touchdowns were not there last season, which is primarily what stalled his fantasy production, but the yards were. Add better red zone production in the mix, and that makes Ryan a QB1.
According to Pro Football Focus, despite being a poor fantasy performer, Ryan was tied for second with Drew Brees for the second highest rating among quarterbacks in 2017. There are a lot of other factors besides performance that need to be in place for a successful fantasy season like surrounding talent, effective play-calling and of course luck.
While luck can never be predicted, everything else should be in place for Ryan. Atlanta spent their first-round pick on Calvin Ridley to replace Taylor Gabriel. Time will tell, but Ridley should be a much better third option (or maybe even second) in the Falcons already explosive offense. Ryan should have a field day with the trio of Jones, Sanu and Ridley at his expense to go along with a two-headed monster in the backfield. Atlanta also bolstered their offensive line by signing Brandon Fusco in the offseason. Fusco will fill the Falcons biggest hole from 2017 and should allow Ryan to feel much more comfortable in the pocket, something that was rare a season ago.
And perhaps even more important than the offensive additions is the fact that Sarkisian now has a year under his belt as an NFL offensive coordinator and with this Atlanta team. The Falcons went through massive regressions offensively in 2017 under Sarkisian. Although, it might not be fair to compare his first season to one of the greatest offenses in NFL history. It is also worth noting that Shanahan featured similar struggles in 2015, his first year with the Falcons. After buffing up the offense a little, Shanahan was able to create a masterpiece in 2016. Sarkisian may not be able to make the same strides that Shanahan was able to, but improvement is necessary, or he will not be the offensive coordinator for long.
Quarterbacks like Ryan being available in the eighth round or later is one of the main reason I always advise to wait to draft a quarterback. There are always multiple guys that go undrafted and end up in the top ten at the position. Ryan has proven before he can be an elite fantasy asset, and all the pieces are in place for him to finish as a top five quarterback option in 2018. At the very least, he should outperform his ADP.