The question of the week in fantasy football is whether to buy into the Falcons’ prolific start.
I have no doubt Julio Jones will finish in the top 10 in scoring among wide receivers. I believe running backs Devonta Freeman and Tevin Coleman will remain at worst flex plays with upside.
But I don’t see quarterback Matt Ryan turning into Peyton Manning.
With 1,473 passing yards through four games, Ryan is on pace for 5,892, which would beat Manning’s NFL single-season record of 5,477 set in 2013. With 11 touchdown passes, Ryan is on pace for 44, which would tie the seventh-best single-season performance (Dan Marino, 1986).
Ryan’s pace is unsustainable, but it shows how good he has been. And the fact he torched the formerly impenetrable Panthers for 503 yards and four touchdowns adds another layer to his exploits. But we have enough information on Ryan, in his ninth season, to know how this story likely ends.
After building up to a career year in 2012, in which he threw for 4,719 yards and 32 touchdowns, Ryan has averaged 4,600 yards and 25 touchdowns in the last three seasons. And in each of those seasons, he had a strong first four games and a not-as-strong final 12. Check out the chart for a breakdown (scroll down).
Plus, the Falcons’ schedule goes up a notch in competition. After exploiting two bottom-five pass defenses (Raiders and Saints) and two middle-of-the-pack units (Buccaneers and Panthers), Ryan will face the No. 2 Broncos and No. 4 Seahawks the next two weeks – on the road.
After facing bottom-10 pass defenses in the Chargers and Packers in Weeks 7 and 8, Ryan gets the top-10 Eagles and Cardinals in Weeks 10 and 12. Plus, the rematch with the Panthers comes in Week 16, championship week (do you think they’ll let him put up 500 again?), and Ryan sees the lowly Saints again in Week 17, which is meaningless.
Ryan is an ideal sell-high candidate. If you own him, you probably drafted him as a backup anyway. You could hang on to him as a solid fallback option or peddle him to fill a hole. There might be owners in need with the bye weeks upon us and Cam Newton and Carson Palmer suffering concussions. The leverage lies with you.
Follow me on Twitter @JeffreyA22.
MATT-ER OF FACT
In the last three seasons, Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan hasn’t been able to finish what he started. His production in Games 1-4 and 5-12:
Avg. yards/game TDs INTs
2015 G 1-4 300 6 2
G 5-16 282 15 14
2014 G 1-4 316 10 5
G 5-16 286 18 9
2013 G 1-4 332 8 3
G 5-16 265 18 14
WEEK 5 OUTLOOK
Byes: Jaguars, Chiefs, Saints, Seahawks.STOCK MARKET
Cardinals WR John Brown: After catching two passes in the first two games, he has caught 16 passes for 214 yards in the last two.
Ravens RB Terrance West: He’s coming off the best game for a Ravens back this season. Ride him until rookie Kenneth Dixon cuts into his time.
Bengals RB Giovani Bernard: Jeremy Hill is outproducing him on the ground, averaging over a yard more per carry (3.8-2.7). Bernard is strictly a PPR play.
Redskins WR DeSean Jackson: He’s coming off a one-catch outing against the Browns, and three of his next four opponents rank in the top 10 in pass defense.
Eagles QB Carson Wentz: The Lions have allowed the second-most touchdown passes (13) and have picked off just one pass.
Bears RB Jordan Howard: It’s a homecoming game for the Indiana product, and the Colts have allowed the fourth-most points to running backs.
Texans RB Lamar Miller: He’ll continue to get plenty of touches, but lower your expectations against the Vikings’ eighth-ranked run defense.
Lions QB Matthew Stafford: He’s coming off a bad outing against a suspect Bears defense, and now he gets the Eagles, who stymied Ben Roethlisberger in Week 3.