Tony Gonzalez’s Retirement Decision Will Impact Matt Ryan’s Fantasy Value

By Travis Chan
Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

As the off-season continues to move forward, Atlanta Falcons tight end Tony Gonzalez is pondering whether to retire or give it another go in 2013. The 16-year veteran ended last season with 93 receptions for 930 yards and eight touchdowns. Even at age 36, Gonzalez continued to perform at a high level.

Despite his accomplishments and record numbers, the future Hall of Famer is contemplating retirement, which will affect Matt Ryan’s fantasy value.

Ryan has gotten better each season, and enjoyed career numbers across the board last year, including throwing for a career-best 32 touchdowns. While Ryan has progressed as a quarterback, Gonzalez was a major factor why he had a successful statistical year. The Falcons still have Roddy White and Julio Jones, but Gonzalez was Ryan’s security blanket down the middle-especially in the red zone. Out of his eight touchdowns, four of them came within two yards of the end zone.

Using his size, quickness and savvy, Gonzalez provided his quarterback with easy completions. If the veteran tight end calls it a career, his successor will have big shoes to fill. Whether Atlanta brings in a rookie or a veteran, they won’t possess the experience that Gonzalez has and that will hurt Ryan’s production. Looking at the quarterback landscape, he’ll drop down a few notches from where he was entering the 2012 season. Right now I’d value a healthy Robert Griffin III, Russell Wilson and Tony Romo over Ryan (without Gonzalez) in fantasy.

However, if Gonzalez does give in to the “five percent” of coming back, the Falcons’ passing attack should only improve. There’s no reason to believe his production will fall off as he grows another year older. He’s consistent year in and year out, which can only lead to positive results for Ryan. A return would place Matty Ice right behind the elite signal-callers.

You can follow Travis on Twitter @TravisChan1

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