Falcons 2021 NFL Preview: Atlanta 2020 Recap, 2021 Team Outlook For Fantasy Football & Betting

Last Updated: Jul 14, 2023

Here’s The Game Day’s Atlanta Falcons 2021 Preview: 2020 Recap, Team 2021 Outlook, 2021 Betting Tips and 2021 Fantasy Football Outlook.

Falcons 2021 NFL Preview: Atlanta 2020 Recap, 2021 Team Outlook For Fantasy Football & Betting

Atlanta Falcons 2020 Recap

  • Final record: 4-12 (2-6 Home / 2-6 Away)
  • Division regular-season finish: 4th in NFC South
  • Result: Did not qualify for postseason

The 2020 season was an embarrassing one for the Falcons, who blew multiple large leads on the way to finishing last in their division. They bookended their season with five-game losing streaks, finishing with a losing record for the third year in a row. Worst of all, star receiver Julio Jones became so frustrated with the team that he recently demanded a trade.

Heads rolled as Atlanta sputtered to its worst record since 2013. General manager Thomas Dimitroff and head coach Dan Quinn were both fired after the team’s 0-5 start, leaving defensive coordinator Raheem Morris to step in as interim head coach. The season was already doomed by that point, however, as the Falcons had already dug themselves too deep a hole.

Often playing from behind, Matt Ryan led the league in completions for the second straight year, getting strong production from Julio Jones, Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage, and Hayden Hurst. The run game was a bit lacking with Todd Gurley leading the backfield, however, and the defense cost them several wins with late-game meltdowns.

Atlanta Falcons 2021 Offseason Changes

Falcons 2020 Offseason Departures

  • Ricardo Allen, S (Bengals)
  • Allen Bailey, DE (Free Agent)
  • James Carpenter, OL (Free Agent)
  • Ito Smith, RB (Free Agent)
  • Dan Quinn, HC (Cowboys)
  • Dirk Koetter, OC
  • Raheem Morris, DC (Rams)

Falcons 2020 Free-Agency/Offseason Additions

  • Ryan Becker, TE
  • Brandon Copeland, LB
  • Mike Davis, RB
  • Erik Harris, S
  • Duron Harmon, S
  • Dom Maggio, P
  • Barkevious Mingo, LB
  • Fabian Moreau, CB
  • Cordarrelle Patterson, WR
  • Tajae Sharpe, WR
  • Lee Smith, TE
  • Arthur Smith, HC
  • Dave Ragone, OC
  • Dean Pees, DC

Atlanta Falcons 2021 NFL Draft Picks

  • Kyle Pitts, TE, Florida (Round 1, Pick #4 Overall)
  • Richie Grant, S, Central Florida (Round 2, Pick #40 Overall)
  • Jalen Mayfield, OT, Michigan (Round 3, Pick #68 Overall)
  • Darren Hall, CB, San Diego State (Round 4, Pick #108 Overall)
  • Drew Dalman, C, Stanford (Round 4, Pick #114 Overall)
  • Ta’Quon Graham, DT, Texas (Round 5, Pick #148 Overall)
  • Adetokunbo Ogundeji, DE, Notre Dame (Round 5, Pick #182 Overall)
  • Avery Williams, CB, Boise State (Round 5, Pick #183 Overall)
  • Frank Darby, WR, Arizona State (Round 6, Pick #187 Overall)

Atlanta Falcons 2021 Outlook

No shades are needed as the Falcons outlook for 2021 isn’t so bright. Todd Gurley is out and rookie Kyle Pitts is in, but it will take more than one offseason for the offense to gel under new head coach Arthur Smith and coordinator Dave Ragone. That will be especially true if and when Julio Jones is traded, as he’s been one of Matt Ryan‘s go-to guys for years.

If Jones does leave, Kyle Pitts will need to help pick up the slack. He’s expected to be the team’s best offensive tight end since Tony Gonzalez, so building rapport with Ryan during offseason workouts and training camp will be critical. In the backfield, Mike Davis is a solid replacement for Gurley, though not necessarily an upgrade.

While their offense should be fine, the main issue for Atlanta is its suspect defense. The Falcons didn’t really do enough to address their deficiencies on this side of the ball in free agency or the draft. Accordingly, don’t be surprised if Atlanta ends up in a lot of shootouts again next year.

Falcons 2021 NFL Preview: Atlanta 2020 Recap, 2021 Team Outlook For Fantasy Football & Betting

Star receiver Julio Jones could be on the move this offseason (Image: USA Today).

Atlanta Falcons 2021 Fantasy Football Preview

Matt Ryan is Mr. Reliable in fantasy football production. He’s scored north of 25 touchdowns four of the last five seasons, and his 286 passing yards per game ranked fifth among quarterbacks in 2020. His lack of rushing limits his overall upside, however, limiting him to a fringe QB1 in most leagues.

Julio Jones was a fantasy bust last year after injuries limited him to just nine games, although he was his usual self when healthy. Now 32, he could be on the downside of his career, but perhaps he’ll benefit from a change of scenery. He’s still a WR1 regardless of where he ends up, although ideally it would be in a pass-happy offense similar to Atlanta’s.

The main benefactor of Jones’ injury woes last year was Calvin Ridley, who essentially replicated Jones’ typical production. Ridley blossomed from a WR2 to a WR1 last year, and will remain so if Jones departs. If Jones stays, however, and is healthy, Ridley may end up being more of a WR1/WR2, especially with Kyle Pitts on hand to steal some of his targets.

Speaking of Pitts, he’ll likely be a top-10 TE this year with top-5 upside. It may take him a bit to get comfortable in the offense, but sheer volume alone will guarantee him a top spot on fantasy leaderboards.

It’s unclear whether the Falcons will attempt to run the ball more under new OC Dave Ragone, but continue to treat Mike Davis as an RB2 for now. Todd Gurley produced solid fantasy results in this offense last year, so there’s no reason Davis can’t do the same.

Atlanta Falcons 2021 NFL Futures Bet Tips

Atlanta Falcons Win Under 7.5 Regular-Season Games (+110)

This is a tough one, but I’m taking the under here given all the uncertainty and moving parts in Atlanta, especially if Julio Jones exits. The Falcons haven’t won more than seven games since 2017, and it doesn’t look like they’re going to take a significant step forward this year. Matt Ryan‘s also 36 now, so he’s not getting any younger.

Atlanta Falcons To Miss 2021-2022 NFL Playoffs (-225)

The Falcons haven’t made the playoff since 2017, and a postseason berth seems highly unlikely again this year. The Buccaneers and Saints are both clearly superior in their division, and the Panthers are about even. Atlanta should be better than last year, but hasn’t improved enough to go from being a 4-win team to a playoff team.

Atlanta Falcons’ Win Total Over/Under, odds and lines courtesy of BetMGM. BetMGM has a welcome offer for a Risk-Free Bet of up to $600. Use promo code THEGAMEDAY or click here to sign up for a new account.


Allison Koehler

Allison Koehler is a Cleveland-area native who now lives in Tampa by way of Detroit. She resides with her boyfriend Phil and three children (one human and two cats). When she isn't writing, she's watching pro football, listening to music, or streaming Netflix and Amazon Prime.

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