August 9, 2012; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) runs on the field before the game against the Baltimore Ravens at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Daniel Shirey-US PRESSWIRE
The shift to a more wide open offense has Matt Ryan moving up preseason Fantasy Football rankings.
It's a bit rare for a quarterback like Matt Ryan, who's led the Atlanta Falcons to four consecutive winning seasons and three playoff appearances during that span, to be only a mediocre fantasy football option. But that's exactly what the Boston College product has been throughout his career.
Ryan did break out a bit in 2011, with a career-high 4,177 passing yards and 29 touchdowns, but FakeTeams.com still ranks Ryan as the tenth-best fantasy option for the 2012 season. To this point, Ryan's found himself stuck in the middle between game manager and elite quarterback, and this could be the season he finally gets over the hump.
For the time being, tenth is a fair spot to rank Matt Ryan. However, he has an array of weapons to work with offensively. Roddy White is one of the best receivers in the NFL and that should continue this season--he's a solid bet for 1,100-plus yards and eight or more touchdowns. The X-Factor should be second-year receiver Julio Jones, who nearly surpassed 1,000 yards receiving despite playing just 12 games in 2011. He possesses superior height at 6-4, and combined with elite straight-line speed, Jones is almost a guarantee for 1,000 yards and double-digit touchdown catches.
What does all that mean for Matt Ryan? Provided that most of his offensive line and the receivers stay healthy, it's not unreasonable to expect Ryan to throw more 4,500 or more yards and 30-plus touchdowns. New offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter expects to throw the ball more this season, and running back Michael Turner is only getting older. Ryan should approach 600 attempts in 2012, and fantasy owners will be better off all around.