The NFL Draft Fantasy Preview Series : Cleveland – Chicago – San Francisco – Jacksonville – LA Rams – Tennessee – Jets – Chargers – Panthers – Bengals – Bills – Vikings – Cardinals – Saints – Eagles – Colts – Ravens –Redskins – Lions – Buccaneers – Broncos – Giants – Texans – Raiders – Cowboys – Seahawks – Steelers – Patriots – Packers – Falcons
Team Needs: OG, DE, DT
Projected Top Three Picks:
First Round- Charles Harris, DE Missouri
Second Round- Dion Dawkins, OG Temple
Third Round- Chris Wormley, DT Michigan
After a very surprising Super Bowl run, the Atlanta Falcons will look to the 2017 draft to fill their appropriate needs with depth. Outside of potentially finding an offensive lineman to compete with the existing crew, the offense itself is set heading into the season. So, look for this team to really hone in on the defensive side of the ball. This will be the case with their first-round selection of Charles Harris to add to a developing pass rush in Atlanta. Harris can explode off the ball and has plus moves to get to the quarterback. He can make an impact on this team in his rookie year with so much game-planning steered towards veterans like Vic Beasley. This Falcons defense certainly has some appeal in Fantasy drafts, but keep in mind the high-scoring teams they face in the NFC South. This is an above average defense that should be drafted inside the Top 10 D/ST units this year.
After an abysmal 2015, Matt Ryan bounced back in a major way last year. He finished the Fantasy season just behind Aaron Rodgers. If you were lucky enough to draft him as your QB2, you were likely in contention for a title, assuming you handled the position the right way. Look for Ryan’s success to continue, but there will be some slight regression because of the departure of offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan to San Francisco. The offense should be run in a very similar manner, but the play-calling may change up a bit, which could cause problems. The yardage and TD totals could also be around the same area, but expect the turnovers to increase this year. There will be some Fantasy owners who will jump on Ryan in the fourth round, but that is too lofty a price when the position is so deep with talent. Out wide, it’s the Julio Jones show when it comes to the passing attack. Jones is one of the most consistent receivers in the game, and he should be the second wide receiver off the board midway through first round. After Jones, you have Taylor Gabriel and Mohamed Sanu sharing the role as the next man up in the passing game. Both are draftable players, but knowing when to pull the trigger on either player is difficult. Sanu has more potential in standard leagues, whereas Gabriel proved to be more of a home run threat in this offense. Both receivers should be looked at around the WR5 tier in drafts. At tight end, look for Austin Hooper to turn some heads this year and be a very good streaming option.
The running game of the Falcons turned in a great year in 2017, powered behind Devonta Freeman playing with a chip on his shoulder. Many were calling for Tevin Coleman to be the main back in this offense, and Freeman certainly took exception to this as he ran with purpose all year long. He finished as a Top 5 RB and was great in both standard and PPR formats. Even as he splits time, look for Freeman to continue to return RB1 value, as he should come off the board by the end of the first round. Coleman will look to assume the controls of this offense in his own right. He runs with power, but really excelled in the passing game last year. I fully expect the Falcons to use a hot-hand approach with their running backs, but both will return plenty of value. Coleman will likely return RB3 value, as he will likely be drafted around the sixth round. If the defense continues to improve and become dominant, look for the offense to utilize a ground-orientated attack in 2017.
Passing Offense- 295.3 YPG (3rd)
Running Offense- 120.5 YPG (5th)
Points Per Game- 33.8 PPG (1st)
Top Fantasy Performers:
QB- Matt Ryan, 345 points
RB- Devonta Freeman, 230 points
WR- Julio Jones, 177 points
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