Game-By-Game Projections: Matt Ryan (2020 Fantasy Football)
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The “even-year = good, odd-year = bad” phenomenon kept up for Matt Ryan in 2019, as he again finished outside the top-10 at the quarterback position. That makes eight straight years in which Ryan has been outside the top-10 at his position in odd years, but inside the top-seven in even years. The trend may indeed keep up in 2020, as despite Ryan’s mediocre fantasy finish in 2019, he thrived in Dirk Koetter’s offense. Despite missing a game, Ryan led the NFL in pass completions (408), was third in pass attempts (616), and fifth in passing yards (4,466). And that doesn’t take into account that he was having an elite season prior to an ankle injury, after which his performance declined. With another year of development and hopefully full health from Calvin Ridley, an improved offensive line, and Todd Gurley in tow, Ryan should have plenty of opportunities to thrive in the Atlanta offense. Here’s a game-by-game breakdown of how things could play out for the veteran passer.
Note: Fantasy scoring based on FantasyPros standard scoring methodology found here.
Week 1: vs. Seahawks
The Seahawks were a middle of the road defense last year, and they should be more of the same in 2020. Allowing 263.9 passing yards per game in 2019 (sixth-most in the NFL), the Seattle defense can’t stop Ryan early. Eventually, after falling behind significantly, the Seahawks follow their usual pattern of abandoning their ridiculously conservative and run-heavy approach and let Russell Wilson take over. The Seahawks take a late lead and win the game, but not before Ryan puts up gaudy numbers.
Predicted Stat line: 308 yards passing, 3 passing touchdowns, 1 interception; 3 yards rushing, 0 rushing touchdowns
Week 2: at Cowboys
With a fired-up AT&T Stadium for the Cowboys’ home opener, the Falcons struggle with Dallas’ solid pass defense for most of the game. But with the Cowboys’ high-powered offense building a big lead, there’s plenty of garbage time for Ryan to pad some meaningless stats. A high-scoring game leads to fantasy goodness for Ryan, even in a losing effort.
Predicted Stat Line: 371 yards passing, 2 passing touchdowns, 1 interception; 7 yards rushing, 0 rushing touchdowns
Week 3: vs. Bears
An angry Chicago defense is not what Ryan has in mind as he looks to bounce back. He starts a multi-game run against the NFC North this week, and that pits him against three teams in the top-nine in passing defense DVOA. These squads also surrendered some of the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks last season. Atlanta plays conservatively, looking to win a low-scoring affair against a below-average offense, limiting Ryan’s upside in what turns out to be a close game.
Predicted Stat Line: 163 yards passing, 0 passing touchdowns, 1 interception; 2 yards rushing, 0 rushing touchdowns
Week 4: at Packers
Although the tundra in Green Bay isn’t yet frozen by Week 4, a date in Lambeau is hardly a boon for Ryan’s fantasy stock. A raucous crowd on Monday Night Football keeps Ryan in check for the majority of the game, with only a late touchdown salvaging his day.
Predicted Stat Line: 239 yards passing, 1 passing touchdown, 2 interceptions; 6 yards rushing, 0 rushing touchdowns
Week 5: vs. Panthers
Short week or not, heading back home to face the Panthers is what the doctor ordered for Ryan. Although the Panthers held quarterbacks relatively in check from a fantasy perspective last year, their defense is hardly on par with 2019 after key free-agent losses, despite the defense-heavy draft. After topping 300 yards passing in both of his matchups against Carolina last year, Ryan has no trouble hitting that mark again in an easy bounce-back win.
Predicted Stat Line: 315 yards passing, 2 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions; 0 yards rushing, 0 rushing touchdowns
Week 6: at Vikings
Ryan’s return to fantasy prominence is short-lived, as the Vikings’ strong defense keeps him in check all game. The Vikings were top-five in the league in both sacks and interceptions last year, and they have no trouble relying on their defense (and running game) in a victory.
Predicted Stat Line: 185 yards passing, 1 passing touchdowns, 2 interceptions; 1-yard rushing, 0 rushing touchdowns
Week 7: vs. Lions
Once again, a home game against a sub-par passing defense feeds right into Ryan’s wheelhouse. The Lions, who ranked 29th in defensive DVOA against the pass last year, have made improvements to their defense. That said, it’s far from enough to stop Ryan and company in their own building. Matthew Stafford’s ability to put up points only further buoys Ryan’s fantasy stock, as he puts up his best game of the season.
Predicted Stat Line: 393 yards passing, 4 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions; 4 yards rushing, 0 rushing touchdowns
Week 8: at Panthers
On a short week on Thursday night, and in his second matchup with Carolina, Ryan isn’t as crisp as he was back in Week 5. Although he pads his yardage stats by consistently moving the offense up and down the field, he hardly lights the world on fire in a sloppy affair. Ryan doesn’t crush his fantasy owners, but he doesn’t dominate, either.
Predicted Stat Line: 288 yards passing, 1 passing touchdown, 1 interception; 3 yards rushing, 0 rushing touchdowns
Week 9: vs. Broncos
The Falcons’ luck out by playing the Broncos at home rather than in Denver, but it doesn’t make enough of a difference. By Week 9, the Broncos offense is starting to hum as their new additions are fully acclimated to their system, which means Denver is able to put up points with relative ease. Although that’s not a great development for real-life purposes, it does just fine for fantasy, forcing Ryan to throw often and put up far more statistics than he otherwise would have.
Predicted Stat Line: 315 yards passing, 2 passing touchdowns, 1 interception; 14 yards rushing, 0 rushing touchdowns
Week 10: BYE
Week 11: at Saints
Matt Ryan in New Orleans coming off a bye. What could go wrong? Ryan’s performance in the same situation last year (20-of-35, 182 yards, two touchdowns, one interception) was fairly awful, though, from a fantasy perspective, it didn’t sink the ship. He was recovering from an injury, however, and Ryan generally performs well off a bye. He will here, too, as he tries to keep pace with a Saints team that should be heading toward another division title.
Predicted Stat Line: 281 yards passing, 2 passing touchdowns, 1 interception; 4 yards rushing, 0 rushing touchdowns
Week 12: vs. Raiders
With their season teetering on the brink of disaster, the Falcons come out firing at home by picking on a Las Vegas squad that will likely struggle against the pass, as it did in 2019. Ryan puts up one of his best games of the season, leading the Falcons and his fantasy owners to a much-needed victory.
Predicted Stat Line: 355 yards passing, 3 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions; 6 yards rushing, 0 rushing touchdowns
Week 13: vs. Saints
A second game against a divisional opponent is often tricky, but again, Ryan will need to throw to keep up with Drew Brees. The Saints gave up plenty of passing yards and fantasy points to opposing quarterbacks, and that trend continues into Week 13.
Predicted Stat Line: 329 yards passing, 2 passing touchdowns, 1 interception; 7 yards rushing, 0 rushing touchdowns
Week 14: at Chargers
To the extent fantasy owners rostering Ryan make the playoffs and are brave enough to start him, their seasons come to an end in the first round. An outdoor matchup against a team that will likely have a run-first and slow-tempo philosophy with a strong pass defense (just 200.3 passing yards per game allowed last year) doesn’t suit Ryan well. He struggles all game, putting up some of his worst statistics all year.
Predicted Stat Line: 167 yards passing, 0 passing touchdowns, 1 interception; 9 yards rushing, 0 rushing touchdowns
Week 15: vs. Buccaneers
A home game against Tom Brady and the Bucs is a recipe for success, as Ryan bounces back strong from his L.A. disaster. The Bucs allowed the third-most passing yards per game last season and gave up the 10th-most fantasy points per game to opposing quarterbacks. Needing points to keep up, Ryan explodes in his final home game of the year.
Predicted Stat Line: 377 yards passing, 3 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions; 6 yards rushing, 0 rushing touchdowns
Week 16: at Chiefs
Ryan and company will again need points to keep up with Patrick Mahomes’ Chiefs, but it’s not an ideal situation. An outdoor game in a hostile environment like Arrowhead wreaks havoc a bit on the Falcons offense, and an improving Chiefs defense (sixth in passing defense DVOA last season) looks to lock up the top seed and a bye. Ryan is passable, but he’s hardly a fantasy stalwart.
Predicted Stat Line: 252 yards passing, 2 passing touchdowns, 1 interception; 8 yards rushing, 0 rushing touchdowns
Week 17: at Buccaneers
A final regular-season game in Tampa gives Ryan one last chance to show what he’s got against the best of all time. Ryan performs admirably, but in a meaningless game outdoors, he hardly sets the world on fire. He ends his season with a performance emblematic of his year: as a QB1, but not a top one.
Predicted Stat Line: 301 yards passing, 2 passing touchdowns, 0 interceptions; 5 yards rushing, 0 rushing touchdowns
|WEEK||OPP||PASS YDs||PASS TDs||INTs||RUSH YDs||RUSH TDs||PTS|
We’ve only seen Ryan back in Koetter’s system for one year, and it was a tale of two seasons. If he looks closer to what he did prior to his ankle injury, he could substantially beat these numbers. If he plays like he did after, then he won’t come all that close. But truth be told, even at age 35, there hasn’t been that much decline in Ryan’s raw skills. I project him to bounce back mildly from his 7.3 YPA and 4.2% touchdown rate last year — and to finish as a top-10 fantasy quarterback.
2019 stats: 4,466 passing yards, 26 TD, 14 INT, 147 rushing yards, 1 rushing TD
2020 prediction: 4,639 passing yards, 30 TD, 13 INT, 93 rushing yards, 0 rushing TDs