NFL free agency started on March 18th, but technically does not end until the end of the season. However, after a firehose of news the first week, and another run the second week, things quiet down to a trickle. There are still big names out there, but it’s going to take some time to get them signed, sealed and delivered.
With that in mind, it’s time to take a look at where teams stand after the early rush of free agency and what it means for fantasy football. We’re going to take a look at the skill positions, breaking down what the starting lineup and reserves will look like to assess fantasy value heading into August drafts.
Today, we’re taking a look at the Atlanta Falcons. The Falcons got off to a slow start in 2019 before picking up the pace late in the season. They’ve acquired some pieces that could help them avoid repeating history in 2020 to kick off free agency. Atlanta is bringing aboard Todd Gurley and Dante Fowler while replacing tight end Austin Hooper with Hayden Hurst. However, it also lost Devonta Freeman and Desmond Trufant.
Starter: Matt Ryan
Backups: Matt Schaub, Kurt Benkert, Danny Etling
Ryan was QB11 in season-long fantasy and sixth on DraftKings in 2019 after finishing second to only Patrick Mahomes in 2018. He threw for 4,466 yards and 26 touchdowns and had productive targets in Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, and Austin Hooper.
Hooper is gone now, but getting a running back like Todd Gurley who can be a difference maker in the passing game could help raise Ryan’s ceiling. He has enough talent around him to get back in the top 10 in 2020.
Starter: Todd Gurley
Backups: Ito Smith, Brian Hill, Qadree Ollison
Gurley was a top three season-long fantasy option running back in 2017 and 2018, but dropped outside of the top 10 in 2019. Devonte Freeman was a top 10 running back in his prime though, and that’s a good sign for Gurley. It seems unlikely that’ll get back into the elite conversation, but between top 15 could be where he lands in his first year with the Falcons if he can stay healthy.
Starters: Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage
Backups: Laquon Treadwell, Christian Blake, Olamide Zaccheaus
Jones has been a top 10 wideout in standard and PPR leagues since 2014 and has cracked the top three for two years straight. He hasn’t tallied less than 1,300 receiving yards in six seasons and has only dipped below six touchdowns twice during that span.
Jones is elite and is a lock for the top 10 every year, regardless of whether if it’s season long fantasy or DFS you’re playing. He has a good chance to be a top three target for a third straight year.
Starter: Hayden Hurst
Backups: Jaedan Graham, Carson Meier, Khari Lee
Hurst was TE34 in season-long fantasy and DraftKings in 2019 despite playing second fiddle to Mark Andrews. He could pick up some major steam with the Falcons in 2020 if he secures the starting role. Hooper was among the best fantasy tight end options in Atlanta, and Hurst doesn’t appear to have much competition. He should be a top 20 option in 2020 after posting career highs in receptions (30), receiving yards (349), and touchdowns (2) last season.