Skip navigation
Sign up to follow your favorites on all your devices.
Sign up
View All Scores

2024 Atlanta Falcons Fantasy Preview

Metcalf tracking towards solid fantasy campaign
Denny Carter thinks the Seattle Seahawks are not quite the "tough nosed" football team they used to be, but DK Metcalf could benefit from their new look as his role in the slot potentially expands.

2023 Stats (Rank)

Points per game: 18.9 (26th)
Total yards per game: 334.3 (17th)
Plays per game: 64.2 (13th)
Pass Attempts + Sacks per game: 33.5 (26th)
Dropback EPA per play: -0.03 (22nd)
Rush attempts per game: 30.7 (3rd)
Rush EPA per play: -0.17 (28th)

Coaching Staff

It’s difficult to demonstrate the magnitude of Arthur Smith’s self-owns as Falcons head coach, though fantasy managers know there’s no better avatar than his (mis)use of Bijan Robinson. This was a run-heavy, slobberknocker coach who … didn’t feature his first-round running back. No more. Smith is gone and Sean McVay acolyte Zac Robinson is in. McVay’s disciples haven’t been a monolithic force as head coaches, but they have tended to feature balanced approaches on offense. “Balance” would be a mammoth upgrade for a team whose pass rate over expected was a gobsmacking -9.0 percent last season, far and away the lowest in the league. “Balance” also isn’t exactly what comes to mind when you hear Kirk Cousins. If you believe attempts are a quarterback stat, you know the Falcons’ passing volume won’t just be increasing “after Art,” it will be skyrocketing.

Passing Game

QB: Kirk Cousins, Michael Penix
WR: Drake London, KhaDarel Hodge
WR: Darnell Mooney, Casey Washington
WR: Rondale Moore, Ray-Ray McCloud
TE: Kyle Pitts, Charlie Woerner, Ross Dwelley

661. That’s how many passes Cousins was on pace for last season even if you include his Achilles-tearing Week 8, where he had thrown “just” 31 balls. (League leader Sam Howell had 612). This, after Cousins finished fourth in attempts in 2022. There is reason to believe he won’t be quite as prolific in 2024. Again, there’s that balance typically preferred by McVay’s deputies. This is also a supporting cast that isn’t nearly as fantasy readymade as the winter hype would lead you to believe. The receiver corps would be laughably thin without Darnell Mooney, for instance. Last but not least is the buried lede of Cousins turning 36 in August as he returns from his aforementioned torn Achilles.

But. But … he’s going to throw, y’all. A lot. There’s just no way around it with Cousins, whose career low for attempts per game is 30. His second lowest mark for a full season is 32. Third, 34. He’s averaged 37 since 2021. Slinging it around the yard is what he was signed to do for a team that could no longer endure its self-imposed Desmond Ridder jail. The Falcons want to come back into the 21st century.

There is talent to work with, but this is hardly a Justin Jefferson/T.J. Hockenson/Jordan Addison skill corps. Drake London is hoping to at least make it interesting. By far the biggest loser of the Falcons’ “Ridder ball” approach, London enters year three with a good but not great career mark of 1.96 yards per route run. If the routes tended to go nowhere under Arthur Smith, the catches weren’t much better. Of the 96 receivers with at least 50 receptions since 2023, London’s 12.6 yards per grab were 46th. His 2.8 average yards after the catch last season ranked 81st. The environment undoubtedly played a part, but London is a 1-on-1, jump-ball maestro who isn’t typically going to be stacking yards after contact. That means he absolutely must be featured more on the boundary. That has never been Cousins’ specialty, but he also does not fear to tread. A miserable 25th in receiver targets last season at 109, London should see that number increase to at least 130, while 150-160 is eminently realistic. London is an upside WR2 who could crash the top 12.

The No. 2 pass catcher is not Mooney, but Kyle Pitts. The dreaded, infamous Kyle Pitts. The No. 4 overall pick of the 2021 draft squeaked by 1,000 yards as a rookie but has just 1,023 in 27 games since. Slowed by a 2022 MCL injury each of the past two years, Pitts’ yards per route run have fallen from an elite tight end mark of 2.02 to 1.69 then 1.43. He was essentially a down-field (his ADOT was two yards higher than any other TE) catch-and-fall specialist in the Falcons’ moribund 2023 attack, checking in at a shocking 41st in average yards after the catch amongst tight ends. Pitts lost both his health and his mojo, and he is counting on Robinson and Cousins to bring the latter back. Cousins has never hesitated to target the seam — he directed 27 percent of his 2023 attempts that way — but the bigger story is that Cousins always latches onto his primary weapons. As long as Pitts is healthy and getting open — he was 10th in ESPN’s tight end open score in 2022 before cratering last season — Cousins is going to feed him the ball. Pitts’ struggles can’t entirely be explained away by his poor environments, but the situation is doing a 180 for 2024.

That brings us to Mooney, who can feel like the most underrated or overrated receiver in the league depending on the day. Mooney has reached 100 targets and 1,000 yards just one time in four NFL seasons — his second highest yardage total is 631 — but his setup was positively Arthur Smith-ian in Chicago. You would have still liked to see him catch more than 31 balls for 414 yards last season, averaging a pathetic 0.89 yards per route run. The theoretical Mooney bounce-back is based on his elite speed, improved quarterback play, and lack of target competition. Maybe that’s a few too many “what ifs” for you, but Mooney was being treated as an afterthought WR5 by even the shrewdest summer drafters. He’s a zero-risk, late-round dart throw.

Zeroer and later is Rondale Moore, who will be fighting for No. 3 duties after the Cardinals threw in the towel following three disappointing, injury-marred campaigns. A slot-only option because of his nonexistent size, Moore will be getting a quarterback upgrade from a point guard pitch-and-catch perspective. (We’ll save the overall Kyler/Cousins debate for another day.) Moore also managed to finally stay healthy last season. If Cousins can deliver accurate middle-of-the-field targets, Moore should be able to improve last year’s pedestrian YAC numbers after posting much stronger 2021-22 marks.

Running Game

RB: Bijan Robinson, Tyler Allgeier, Jase McClellan, Avery Williams
OL (L-R): Jake Matthews, Matthew Bergeron, Drew Dalman, Chris Lindstrom, Kaleb McGary

Zac Robinson is not Sean McVay, but his former boss has had success with both bell-cow and committee-based approaches in the backfield. Although the latter was too alluring for Arthur Smith with Tyler Allgeier behind Bijan Robinson, nearly every sign points to a delayed Bijan takeover. Most compelling is the fact that both McVay and Cousins have long histories of force-feeding touches to their best players.

Even amidst last year’s tomfoolery, Bijan was 13th in yards per carry (4.56), 12th in average rush yards over expected, and eighth in running back receptions (58). The foundation is already here. We just have to trust Zac is smart enough to feature Bijan, leaving Allgeier for the occasional short-yardage or change-of-pace touch. Making Bijan a top-three running back requires a short memory and a bit of foresight, but he profiles as a “Gurley mode” league-winner in this remade offense.

Win Total

DraftKings has the Falcons’ Over/Under installed at an optimistic 9.5. 10 wins is a total that hasn’t been reached in Atlanta since 2017. The 2024 winds are in their favor. In addition to their sizable coaching and quarterback upgrades, the Falcons play in probably the softest division in football. They’re going up against Baker Mayfield, Derek Carr and Bryce Young. That’s one reason Warren Sharp has rated their schedule as the league’s softest. That does not include the season-opening stretch of vs. PIT, @PHI, vs. KC. If they survive that gauntlet at even 1-2, the Over will be looking mightily attainable. 2-1 would make it practically a guarantee. From a season-long perspective, an ace in the hole is that the Falcons now have the league’s best backup quarterback in No. 8 overall pick Michael Penix Jr.