I recently came across a piece from our new partner, Athlon Sports, about the Falcons fantasy football potential in 2012. I found it very enlightening because it didn’t necessarily talk about personnel, it looked at fantasy from a schedule match-up perspective.
A fantasy football piece wouldn’t be complete without looking slightly at the Falcon’s personnel, and that cast of characters the Falcons have is outstanding. The article acknowledges that Ryan is not considered an elite fantasy quarterback, although he is nearly elite on the field. The article does go on to say that with fantastic receiving options in Roddy White and Julio Jones and a projected lessened role from the running game and Michael Turner, Ryan can make that jump from a fantasy angle, along with the other receiving options the Falcons have.
That is already more about personnel than Athlon talked about. But here is the main theme of the article: the teams the Falcons will be playing in 2012 give up a load of fantasy points to quarterbacks. And by load I mean a tremendous amount.
Each teams’ defense can be ranked by how many points they give up to opponents, and more specifically how many they give up to opposing quarterbacks. The Falcons’ 2012 schedule falls into place as nine of the Falcons thirteen opponents were in the top half of fantasy points surrendered to opposing quarterbacks. And by top half I mean they were in the half that gave up the most amount of points to opposing quarterbacks. Just to make connections, I will give teams the Falcons will play, and their ranking. The Oakland Raiders (who the Falcons play in Week 6) were No. 2–meaning they gave up the second most points to opposing quarterbacks. The rest of the schedule is as follows: Tampa- No. 3, New York Giants- No. 5, Carolina- No. 7, San Diego- No. 8, New Orleans- No. 9, Denver- No. 11, Detroit- No. 12, and Dallas- No. 16. Add to this the fact that the Falcons play Tampa, Carolina, and New Orleans twice each season, the Falcons will play a bottom-half pass defense all but four weeks out of the season. Facing middle of the pack to downright miserable pass defenses will help the Falcons as they begin to truly shift their offense to a more open passing attack.
Also, look at the four teams that the Falcons are playing that were not in the bottom half against quarterbacks. They are Kansas City, Washington, Philadelphia, and Arizona. With the exception of Philadelphia, none of those teams strike fear in me whatsoever. They might have better pass defenses, but it certainly doesn’t make them vaunted defensive juggernauts.
The reason those teams are probably not in the bottom half of giving up fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks? Teams almost always built large leads early in games. What do teams typically do when they are up big? Run the ball. Quarterbacks can’t score fantasy points when they are handing the ball off. However, I do believe that Matt Ryan & Co. will be putting up a lot of points through the air in 2012.