Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan was selected as a top-five quarterback in almost every fantasy football draft this past summer. Most imagined Ryan would rival his career numbers across the board this season, as he was entering the year with the best surrounding cast ever.
However, Ryan was forced to play the final 11 games without his favorite target, WR Julio Jones. Additionally, WR Roddy White was sidelined for what seemed like the entire season with multiple injuries and TE Tony Gonzalez was even slowed by a toe injury for most of the season.
The running game never got on track either. RB Steven Jackson was brought in to replace Michael Turner, but the former St. Louis Ram was hampered early on by a nasty hamstring injury. He missed the first four games and was severely limited in the following four games, which only put more pressure on Ryan to make plays.
Ryan was playing with unfamiliar wideouts for almost the entire season and it forced the quarterback to try to do too much. He threw a career-high 651 attempts, and as a result, he was picked off a career-high 17 times this past season. He also threw just 26 touchdowns, which was his lowest total since he threw just 22 back in 2009.
Fortunately, the majority of Atlanta’s playmakers will be healthy heading into the 2014 season, so a rebound season seems almost guaranteed for Ryan. He will have Jones and White back on the outside with S-Jax lining up in the backfield. He will likely lose the services of Gonzo at tight end, but after flip-flopping last season, the future Hall of Famer could return for an 18th season.
Ryan will likely fall well past the top-six quarterbacks next fantasy season, due to his underwhelming performance this year, but it will end up making him a great value pick. He still the ability to put up 4,000 yards with 30 touchdowns with all his weapons on the field and it would be worth it to keep that in mind walking into the 2014 fantasy season.