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NFL preseason report: Atlanta Falcons

See who’s trending up and who’s trending down throughout Falcons training camp and preseason.

NFL: Jacksonville Jaguars at Atlanta Falcons Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports

This page will be regularly updated with news and analysis regarding the Falcons’ skill position players throughout training camp and the preseason. ⬆︎ ⬇︎ Indicate which way a player’s fantasy value is trending and (R) denotes rookies

Coming in at #16 in Sharp’s strength of schedule rankings, the Falcons offense will put up a ton of points this year.

Quarterback

Matt Ryan ⬆︎ -- Mid-season adjustments drastically improved Atlanta’s offense last season and we should expect the trend to continue. Target Ryan aggressively, late in drafts.

Matt Schaub ⬆︎ -- As strange as this may sound, Matt Schaub is in an ideal spot. The Falcons are still running the Kyle Shanahan offense, which Schaub began learning in 2007 while Shanahan was the Texans’ QB Coach. Shanahan was promoted to the Texans Offensive Coordinator position in 2008 and stayed for two seasons. In 2009, Schaub put up a career best 4,770 passing yards along with 29 touchdowns and 15 interceptions. Should something happen to Matt Ryan, Schaub would be an under-the-radar fantasy asset.

Running Back

According to Warren Sharp, the Falcons face the 2nd-easiest slate of run defenses in 2018.

Devonta Freeman ⬆︎ -- Freeman is coming off the board at the 2.04 slot, and rightfully so. The Falcons’ 2018 run game will be a knife through butter all year long. There is cause for concern as Freemansuffered multiple concussions and an MCL/PCL injury last season”. However, he is worth the dice roll.

Tevin Coleman ⬆︎ -- Coleman’s ADP is currently 7.04. That’s a bit high but drafters are eager to snatch his locked-in RB1 upside should Freeman miss time. If he falls, go get him. If Freeman is at all dinged up during the preseason, you could do worse than gambling on Coleman.

Ito Smith (R) ⬆︎ -- Smith is a do-it-all talent who could have monstrous value in 2019 -- or even 2018 pending injures to Freeman or Coleman. As it stands, he does not have standalone value but keep and eye on him for keeper/dynasty leagues.

Wide Receiver

Julio Jones ⬆︎ -- As mentioned in Matt Ryan’s section, mid-season adjustments paid huge dividends in 2017. Sharp chronicles the events in his 2018 Football Preview and the story is remarkable -- I highly recommend giving it a read. Long story short, Sarkisian began funneling deep targets to Julio on early downs and everything changed for the better. I expect the Falcons to ride him hard in 2018. His current ADP is at the top of Round 2. Let’s hope his holdout scares other drafters away. Imagine pairing Julio with one of the Top 4 running backs...

Mohamed Sanu ⬆︎ -- Sanu will continue to be one of the better No. 2 receivers in football. He’s been a reliable presence in Atlanta over the last two years, totalling 1,356 receiving yards and 9 touchdowns. James Rael of The Falcoholic noted Sanu’s unparalleled ability to contribute via the out route. He won’t dominate your lineup but he will be a usable FLEX starter, depending on the matchup.

Calvin Ridley (R) ⬆︎ -- Ridley enters the league as an NFL-ready receiver with above-average route running ability. This WR trio will create opportunities for each other and I expect similar yardage/touchdown totals between him and Sanu.

*Update 8/2/18: Julio has taken Ridley under his wing, taking an active role in Ridley’s development. Ridley is already flashing pro-ready route running. This unit will be one of the best in the NFL.

Justin Hardy ⬇︎ -- Until we get word that Hardy is fully recovered from his offseason shoulder surgery, his stock will remain low. But even then, it would take an injury to one of the starters for him to hold standalone value.

Tight End

Austin Hooper ⬇︎ -- The Falcons got a combined 10 touchdowns out of their tight ends in 2016. In 2017, that number dropped to just 4. Hooper has shown solid athleticism but has struggled with drops. It’s possible the Falcons’ tight end group produces as a whole this year, but it seems unlikely that Hooper would take on a fantasy-relevant workload.

*Update 8/2/18: Hooper and Matt Ryan have been spending time together in the offseason and it appears as though it’s paying off. Hooper has been making plays in camp and may prove my initial thoughts on him incorrect.