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Is Matt Ryan Due For Regression in 2017?

Pat Mayo, Chris Meaney & Tim Anderson debate Mayo’s first incarnation of his 2017 QB Rankings. (12:30 for Matt Ryan debate)

A common candidate for regression in the fantasy universe is Atlanta Falcons QB Matt Ryan. After putting up historically good numbers in 2016 and making it to the Super Bowl, many people expect Ryan to take a step back in 2017 and suffer a "Super Bowl Hangover." Surprisingly, "Super Bowl Hangovers" are a real thing amongst quarterbacks. Just take Cam Newton, for example. The Panthers made the Super Bowl during the 2015-2016 season, but lost. During that season, Newton scored the most fantasy points in the league. In the 2016-2017 season, Newton did not live up to his draft position of QB1, finishing as QB15, despite missing just one game. Heading into 2017, many people believe Matt Ryan will have a similar season to Cam Newton.

A big reason for Ryan's success was evidently OC Kyle Shanahan. He's widely regarded as the best offensive coordinator in football, as he's been the mastermind behind many powerful offenses, including the 2016 Atlanta Falcons. But, he is now the coach of the San Francisco 49ers. To replace Shanahan, Atlanta hired Steve Sarkisian. Sarkisian's last job was as offensive coordinator of the Alabama Crimson Tide. If you know anything about Alabama football, you know that they are an extremely run-heavy team. While this worries many people involving Matt Ryan's outlook, it doesn't worry me. Atlanta's coach Dan Quinn said they hired Steve because his offensive philosophies are similar to what the Falcons were already doing. Falcon GM Thomas Dimitroff said of Sarkisian: "Steve's a very smart, very creative and very aggressive football coach and play caller, and that plays into line with what we're looking for here as an organization." But, he is no Shanahan. It sounds like Atlanta will stick with what they're doing, which benefits Ryan.

In addition, Ryan has the 7th easiest fantasy schedule, per Fantasy Pros. Although business seems as usual in Atlanta, I do think that Matt Ryan is in for slight regression in 2017. Last year was Ryan's 9th year in the NFL. Prior to his MVP season, he had been a relatively solid quarterback who never really made it deep in the playoffs. He wasn't bad, but he wasn't necessarily good. He hovered around in the top 10 in fantasy points per year. Suddenly, he finished in the top-3 in points. He was 31, and many believed that the time for him to break into the elite group of QB's had passed. Ryan's 2016 season, compared to typical career trends, was absolutely unheard of. I doubt Ryan can repeat this, but he does have all of his weapons returning. The good news is, even if he doesn't repeat the 2016 season, he can still outperform his current ADP.

Matt Ryan Fantasy Football
Clutch Factor via Bob Lung's 2017
Fantasy Football Consistency Guide
He's currently being drafted as QB4, and his stock has fallen from the middle of the 5th round to the start of the 6th round in the last month.  The QB4 last year scored 382 fantasy points. For Ryan to score that amount, he can afford to regress by 31 fantasy points.

Another reason why I think Ryan will avoid a sharp decline is because of how consistent he was last year. He went over 40+ points in just one game last year, proving that he was not a benefactor of huge games that carried him to high season totals.

Matt Ryan has not missed a game since 2009.

Overall, yes, Matt Ryan is due for some regression in the 2017. He had a historic season last year and that will be hard to repeat. I only see a slight dropoff, nothing major, but regression is fine because fantasy drafters are smartly drafting him at a spot where regression will happen. Expect Ryan to stay in the top-5 of fantasy scoring.

We ranked Ryan as the 5th QB in our latest rankings.

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