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Marcus Mariota Signs With Falcons: Fantasy Football Takeaways & Implications (2022)

Mar 21, 2022
Marcus Mariota Signs With Falcons

The Atlanta Falcons certainly didn’t wait long to replace Matt Ryan. On Monday, just a few hours after trading Ryan to the Colts for a third-round pick (and incurring a record $40.525 million dead cap charge in the process), the Falcons agreed to terms on a two-year deal with free agent Marcus Mariota.

What does Mariota’s deal mean for the former No. 2 overall pick and the other offensive playmakers in Atlanta? Andrew Erickson is here to break down the fantasy football implications of the deal.

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The Falcons announced they have agreed to terms on a two-year contract with QB Marcus Mariota, who reunites with HC Arthur Smith in Atlanta.

The dual-threat signal-caller flashed his ability as a rusher with the Las Vegas Raiders the past two seasons, rushing for 175 yards on 18 carries. With rushing quarterbacks all the rage in the NFL nowadays, a team was bound to be interested in the former No. 2 overall pick.

The 28-year-old quarterback filled in admirably for Derek Carr in Week 15 of the 2020 season to the tune of 26 fantasy points on the back of 226 passing yards and 88 rushing yards.

The rushing alone will make him an interesting late-round quarterback option in both best ball and redraft formats. The reunion with Arthur Smith should also not be overlooked, as Smith’s familiarity with Mariota should help recognize his upside.

Although Mariota was benched in favor of Ryan Tannehill the last time the new Falcons quarterback played under Smith, his start to the 2019 season was not as bad as many will remember. In Mariota’s first four starts under Smith, he averaged 19.1 fantasy points per game. He also owned a 7-0 touchdown-to-interception ratio to go along with an average of 28 rushing yards per game.

Turnovers were the reason he was ultimately pulled for Tannehill.

So even though the fit to Atlanta never seemed to be highly discussed, it makes perfect sense in hindsight with Matt Ryan being traded to Indianapolis. As for the Falcons weapons – or what’s left of them – it’s difficult to peg Mariota a downgrade or upgrade. Tight end Kyle Pitts is going to see a boatload of targets regardless – albeit some of the inefficient variety – but Mariota has a strong track record of peppering his tight ends.

In his one spot start for Carr back in 2020, he fueled Darren Waller to a 9-150-1 statline. And although it was not something I initially thought of, the loyal followers on Twitter identified Delanie Walker as another tight end that enjoyed success with Mariota at quarterback. 116 target average for Walker through his first three years, per Dallas Hyder.

Simply put: swapping Mariota for Ryan doesn’t move the needle in either direction for me too much to push Pitts up/down the rankings.

As for Cordarelle Patterson, I would say that this isn’t ideal. Rushing quarterbacks tend to check the ball down less frequently making it less likely Patterson sees less of a consistent target share.
– Andrew Erickson

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