Dynasty Capsule: Atlanta Falcons

Adam Tzikas


Every year we give our premium content members a team-by-team, player-by-player look at the NFL season that was. The coverage will be in-depth, but because the Dynasty Capsule series begins immediately after the regular season, we won’t use it to discuss free agency or the draft. Come see us in early May once Mr. Irrelevant is off the board for another 32-article series giving you the same detailed discussion you’ll see below.

Buckle up dynasty fans, because you’re about to be reminded why our motto is, “There is no off-season.”

The 2015 season for the Atlanta Falcons can be summed up in one word: meh. Their 8-8 record reflects that word. Their performance across the board in the second half of the season reflects that word and outside of two offensive players, the team was a big ole pile of meh.


Matt Ryan

For a team who started 5-0, the play just fell down in the second half of the season, and the key component of bad play came from the quarterback position. Ryan has one of his worst years to date. Out of his seven full seasons, 2015 held his lowest quarterback rating, highest TD to INT ratio, and third lowest completion percentage. Perhaps it was a new offensive coordinator in Kyle Shanahan or new head coach Dan Quinn who is to blame, but Ryan needs to get back to his previous self to keep this perennial “almost there” team in the hunt going forward. I’m expecting a comeback year and his price has never been lower.

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Sean Renfree

Renfree has been a Falcon since coming into the league in 2013 and has been nothing but a qualified number two. Ryan has been very lucky to avoid injury, and Renfree has never played more than two games in his entire career. Not much to see here.

Running back

Devonta Freeman

If the Falcons as a whole can be described as meh, Freeman is one of the only reasons that word isn’t bad instead. Coming into the year as the featured back, before he was “trumped” by Tevin Coleman, many didn’t think Freeman could have shouldered the full load as a workhorse back. After Coleman was drafted, the starting job seemed to be his in the preseason and we saw in week one that Freeman was riding the bench, only seeing 13 touches to Coleman’s 20. Everything changed by the middle of the next week.

freemanOver the next seven games before their bye, Freeman amassed 679 yards on 143 attempts for an average of 4.67 yards per rush, ten total touchdowns, and 41 receptions for 357 yards. This made up 204 PPR points or an average of 29 points per game. If the Freeman failed to play another snap for the rest of the fantasy season, he still would have ended as RB8. Clearly anyone who took a shot on him got a healthy boost through the middle portion of the year.

However, in the remaining six games after the Falcon’s bye, Freeman stumbled strongly. Only posting 75 more points on a 15 point average. While these are still okay numbers, they are a far cry from his earlier performance. This was partly due to Coleman getting increased reps, post injury, and the entire offense being flat. The team went a paltry 2-7 over this stretch and missed the playoffs.

While Freeman is coming into 2016 very hot (ADP of 21 as RB4) I’m cooling on him rapidly. Owners are walking headfirst and headstrong into a committee which isn’t going anywhere for a long long time. It’s going to do wonders for Falcon fans everywhere, but is a potential disaster for those breaking the bank to acquire or draft Freeman.

Tevin Coleman

It was no surprise to many that this rookie running back out of Indiana came into the 2015 season as the lead back of the Falcons, out-snapping and out-touching Freeman two to one in the opening game of the year. Coleman, who finished seventh in Heisman voting after a 2000+ yard, 15 touchdown final year as a Hoosier, looked prime for a big role in today’s NFL. Then the injury bug hit. After his initial outing, Coleman would go on to miss the next three games and lose his spot as RB1 after Freeman’s meteoric stretch of games. Later in the season when Freeman would miss time, Coleman would again show real gusto posting a 6.11 yards per rush average against the Vikings in week 12. The following week it was back to Freeman and Coleman we relegated to only a handful of touches per game.

Going forward, I don’t think Coleman is going to get the lead job for 2016. That being said he is still going to be seeing touches and snaps. Coleman is a major buy right now, especially if you are a Freeman owner. While it is a time share, one injury, a stretch of bad play, and Coleman is your new lead back. And that’s a job he could run away with.

Wide Receivers

Julio Jonesjones-3

In the immortal words of one Mr. Biggie Smalls, “If you don’t know, now you know” and that about sums up Julio Jones’s 2015 campaign. Not much more needs to be said about the league’s leader in targets and yards per game. He tied with Antonio Brown for most receptions with 136. His yards ended up as the second most in NFL history and he generated 93 first downs for the Falcons. He is my 1.01 and I’m not ashamed, Jones is a beast and this was a down year for Matt Ryan and the team in general. The real question moving forward is – who is lining up opposite him?

Roddy White

The winds of change are upon the Falcons and it’s centered on who is going to play second fiddle behind Julio Jones. The 34 year old White had his worst season while starting every game. He managed a mediocre 43 receptions on 70 targets adding up to only 506 yards. He was the player with the third highest receptions after Jacob Tamme, all of this after out snapping Jones by three snaps. Father Time, it appears, has caught up to White. Signed through 2017 he isn’t like to be cut as his contract is very Falcon friendly, but the writing is on the wall that it’s time to look elsewhere for a second strong receiver on the team.

Justin Hardy

As of this article, the next big thing at WR2 for the Falcons, might not be on the team. The man who has his eye on it right now is the rookie out of Eastern Carolina. Hardy ended his junior year third in receptions for all of college division one football and decided that finish wasn’t good enough. In his senior year he ended second in receptions edged out by Amari Cooper, who only managed three more catches. Clearly the man knows how to catch. Selected in the fourth round, Hardy didn’t see significant playing time until week eight. Playing out the rest of the season, he only managed to pull in 21 receptions for 194 yards. He did however post a 60% catch rate, which would put him fifth in rookies who had more than 30 targets (5% better than his old buddy Cooper). The future is bright for this kid. He could potentially be had for very cheap. I’m not sure he ever reaches stardom, but in PPR league he could be a weekly starter.

Leonard Hankerson

Now on the Bills (yuck) Hankerson had an up and down season ending with him being cut in week 14 after spending some time on the injured reserve. Hankerson showed pretty well to start the year, ending with three touchdowns for the Falcons, but fell short with the emergence of Hardy, Tamme, and his own injures. The quest for the Falcons WR2 continues.

Tight Ends

Jacob Tamme

The surprising bright spot for the Falcons off-season was signing this 30 year old TE after he was released by the Broncos. Now on his third team, Tamme ended the year as the Falcons second best receiver posting 59 receptions on 81 targets for 657 yards. He only managed one touchdown but had the 11th most receptions for tight ends. While a fringe TE2 for fantasy, he was startable in a pinch. Signed for another year we can expect his role to be exactly the same, but could decline some with an improvement in Hardy or a veteran signing.

Levine Toilolo

After the retirement of Tony Gonzalez, some (I) were on the Toilolo bandwagon. If it was simply due to his size at a whopping 6”8’, that was enough. However, after his third season in the NFL, his time is up as ever being a dominant option for the Falcons. With Tamme as the TE1, Toilolo only snagged seven balls this year. He however, did grade out 20th best pass blocking tight end, so that counts for something right?


adam tzikas