Forget for a moment that the quest for a playoff win at the hand of Matt Ryan and consider the Falcons QB's fantasy value for the upcoming season. To say Ryan is under-the-radar is a bit of a stretch, but some would say there are at least 10 quarterbacks ahead of Ryan from a fantasy perspective.
Ryan's teammate Julio Jones has generated a lot of talk in the offseason about his own upcoming season and the potential fantasy points the young second-year receiver is about to put up. The Ryan-Jones connection will be a mutually-beneficial relationship when it comes to fantasy this year.
Look at Ryan's four-year trend in the NFL and you have every reason to believe he'll continue to take steps forward in his stats. In all the discussions about fantasy rankings and real-life rankings that have dominated the offseason, one of the key traits discussed about Ryan is the fact that he's improved in each of his seasons.
Ryan's touchdown totals have grown in each season since 08, culminating with 29 last season. His QB rating has been on an upswing the last three seasons and he's stayed under the career-high 14 interception mark he posted in 2009.
At 7.4 yards per attempt, Ryan reached the second-highest mark of his career last season, after his rookie season's 7.9. The quarterback reached that mark last season with over 130 more pass attempts compared to his rookie season.
Those are just trends. When you consider Jones' expected boost in production combined with the consistent Roddy White and an offensive scheme that advertises focusing on the best possible outcomes for every situation, there's no reason to believe Ryan couldn't be a second- or third-round quarterback delivering some big numbers. A jump into the 35 touchdowns and 4,600 yards range shouldn't come as a surprise in 2012.
Ryan may provide significant value when considering what he can do against some of the other highly-rated fantasy QBs available. For example, San Diego's Phillip Rivers, who had a down year in 2011, posted 27 touchdowns against 20 interceptions last season with a similar number of pass attempts.
The bottom line is, for Falcons fans and fantasy fans alike, Ryan may give a lot of people a lot to cheer about in 2012.