Atlanta Falcons Team Profile 2016 by Utter-Fantasy Writer & Illustrator Doug Bowles
On Feb 2nd, The Atlanta Falcons hired Dan Quinn, former defensive coordinator for the Seattle Seahawks, as their new head coach for the 2015 season. This was Quinn’s first job as a head coach in the NFL. Atlanta ended the 2014 season with a 6-10 record, which cost Mike Smith Smith his job, fired on December 29, 2014. Smith had two losing seasons in a row. Expectations were now high for new HC Quinn and Atlanta in 2015, but they missed the playoffs…….finishing with a disappointing 8-8 record.
2016 Team Outlook- The Carolina Panthers easily won the NFC division in 2015, winning 15 of 16 regular season games, and losing to Denver ( and the refs) in Super Bowl 50. New Orleans and Tampa Bay will likely struggle again in 2016, so Atlanta’s battle is with Carolina for the NFC South.
2016 Fantasy Football Outlook-
QB- Matt Ryan had finished in the top 10 of NFL QBs every year since 2010, but he took a step backwards in 2015 finishing #16 among NFL quarterbacks. He WAS rock solid quarterback for fantasy owners until the 2015 season. Last year Ryan had 8 games in which he only threw for 1 touchdown, and had 2 games with none. Atlanta will need to address their receiving corps if Ryan is to rebound. WR Julio Jones was a one-man show and that’s about all QB Ryan had.
RBs- Nobody saw RB Devonta Freeman’s breakout season coming. ( If someone says they did see it coming, check to see if their pants are on fire.) Weeks 2 thru 9, Freeman was the “hottest fantasy football running back” in the NFL. In that span, Freeman racked up 1094 total yards and 11 TDs. Freeman unfortunately suffered a concussion Week 11 during the game, and forced to miss Week 12. ( Freeman never posted more than 81 rushing yards in any game after his concussion.) Fantasy football owners seem skeptical of a repeat season, currently drafting Gurley, Peterson, LeVeon Bell and David Johnson ahead of Freeman in recent mock drafts. ( see Utter-Fantasy article “Mock Football Drafts from 2015 to 2016″ )
WRs- Heading into the 2015 season, Atlanta was thought to have one of the stronger receiving corps in the NFL. QB Matt Ryan and Falcons fans found out otherwise. Wide receiver Roddy White is sadly a shell of his former self, and injuries to Leonard Hankerson and Devin Hester left the the team without weapons. The Falcons are really feeling it, having ignored the WR position in many NFL Drafts since 2008. ( see Atlanta Falcon Draft history ). 2015- 4th rounder Justin Hardy ( 5’10”) is the only WR drafted by Atlanta since Julio Jones’ 1st round selection in 2011. 2010 5th rounder WR Kerry Meier only played in 12 career games in Atlanta, on special teams. UPDATE: The Falcons have released Roddy White…..Falcons sign former Bengal WR Mohamed Sanu
TEs- Jacob Tamme was brought into Atlanta to give QB Matt Ryan another weapon and try to fill in for Future Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez who called it quits in 2013. Tamme failed to do so however, with only 59 receptions in 2015, 657 receiving yards and only 1 TD. The Falcons need to address wide recievers and a tight end in free agency and/or the 2016 NFL Draft if they are going to have any chance competing with Carolina in their division.
K- On December 11th, Falcons placed K Matt Bryant (quad) on injured reserve, ending his season. Shayne Graham closed out the season as Atlanta’s placekicker. The Falcons have Matt Bryant signed through 2017, after giving him an offseason extension. ( Shayne Graham is a free agent)
DEF- In 2014, Atlanta was the 8th worst defense in the NFL. In 2015, Atlanta was the 5th worst defense in the NFL. If the Falcons do not get help fast, they will be in the cellar of the NFC South, looking up at Carolina, New Orleans and Tampa Bay, no matter how many points their offense puts up.
2015 Atlanta Fantasy Surprises- Clearly there were two obvious fantasy football surprises from Atlanta in 2015, one good and one bad. As I wrote earlier, nobody saw RB Devonta Freeman’s breakout season coming (the Good) and few likely saw QB Matt Ryan’s mediocre 2015 fantasy season coming ( the Bad).
2016 Free Agents that Atlanta Needs to Address- DT Adrian Clayborn, DE Kroy Biermann, MLB Paul Worrilow (RFA), DE/LB O’Brien Schofield, SS Charles Godfrey, OLB Philip Wheeler, RT Ryan Schraeder (RFA), OG Chris Chester,K Shayne Graham
2016 NFL Draft- The early needs of Atlanta are Defensive End, help on the O-Line and Wide Receivers/ Tight End. The Falcons actually need multiple pass-rush additions (LBs), having finished dead last in the NFL in sacks (19). An upgrade at center is critical for a new Falcon offense because C Mike Person isn’t the answer and OG Chris Chester is headed for free agency. I’ve already written enough about Atlanta’s receiving corps woes.
Did You Know- that the owner of the Atlanta Falcons is Arthur M. Blank (born September 27, 1942) and co-founder of Home Depot. His current net worth is $2.6 Billion.