New Falcon – Mohamed Sanu

In a prior post, we noted that volume and opportunity are the biggest drivers of a NFL player’s fantasy football success and as a result, we want our receivers and tight ends to be peppered with targets.

Keeping that in mind, we took a look at the teams that have been the most pass happy over the course of the last three seasons:

Team 2013 2014 2015 Average
New Orleans Saints 651 659 667 659
Atlanta Falcons 659 632 621 637
Denver Broncos 675 607 606 629
Detroit Lions 634 604 632 623
New England Patriots 628 610 629 622
Indianapolis Colts 582 661 619 621
Baltimore Ravens 619 555 676 617
New York Giants 567 607 623 599
Cleveland Browns 681 503 609 598
Pittsburgh Steelers 586 612 590 596
San Diego Chargers 544 574 668 595
Miami Dolphins 594 595 589 593
Jacksonville Jaguars 592 557 607 585
Oakland Raiders 519 629 605 584
Philadelphia Eagles 508 622 623 584
Houston Texans 633 485 619 579
Washington Redskins 611 547 555 571
Chicago Bears 580 609 523 571
Arizona Cardinals 574 568 563 568
Green Bay Packers 570 536 573 560
Tennessee Titans 533 513 552 533
Cincinnati Bengals 587 504 505 532
Dallas Cowboys 586 476 528 530
New York Jets 480 498 604 527
Tampa Bay Buccaneers 514 531 535 527
Buffalo Bills 522 579 465 522
Carolina Panthers 473 545 502 507
Minnesota Vikings 546 517 454 506
Kansas City Chiefs 546 493 473 504
Los Angeles Rams 506 515 473 498
San Francisco 49ers 417 487 526 477
Seattle Seahawks 420 454 489 454


Clearly, the Falcons pass a lot.  They have a decent enough NFL passer in Matt Ryan and one of the absolute best receivers in the game; it makes sense.  In the 2016 season, expect Julio Jones to earn at least 170 targets.  In 2015, Matt Ryan looked his way an astounding 203 times.  Regardless of what the exact totals will be in 2016, there should still be plenty targets for other players in the offense.

For the first time in 11 seasons, Roddy White will not be an option in the Atlanta passing game.  The veteran earned 70 targets in 2015 , 125 in 2014 and 97 in 2013.  In the coming season, White’s role as the second option through the air will likely be taken over by 5th year, and off-season acquisition, receiver Mohamed Sanu.  Many fantasy players were excited to hear this news and on the surface it makes sense.  If he can assimilate into the offense, he should see a decent workload.

However, it’s easy to overvalue Sanu as a talent based upon the first half of the 2014 season in which he averaged over 17 PPR points a week.  During this stretch, he was targeted over eight times a game.  However, it’s important recognize that the Cincinnati offense was supremely banged up during this time frame.   Tyler Eifert was hurt in week 1 and missed every game thereafter, plus both A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard were limited due to injury and missed significant time.  As such, Sanu became the only worthwhile piece in the passing game.  Unless of course, you consider Branden Tate and Greg Little to be powerful weapons.  Once Bernard and Green returned and got back to full strength, Sanu’s per game production dropped significantly.  His per game targets fell to four and he scored only five PPR points a game.  At season’s end, Sanu garnered 98 targets, scored 179 PPR points and finished as WR35.

In 2014, Roddy White turned 125 targets into 212 PPR points, finishing the season as WR22 for the Falcons.  So why am I not entirely sold on Sanu being a solid guy to consider in 2016?  For starters, it can often take awhile for new receivers to fully acclimate to a new situation.  Unlike White who had been with Falcons for a decade, Sanu will be learning the offense and trying to build a rapport with Matt Ryan while working toward gaining the trust of the coaching staff.  For these reasons, it’s unlikely that Sanu is utilized to the same degree as White and with similar efficiency.

Even if he were to see 100 targets and manage his career best point-per-target rate of 1.8, he’d be maxed out with a ceiling of WR34.  If we take a conservative approach and assume it takes him a couple of weeks to get fully assimilated into the offense, he could easily fall into WR40 – WR45 territory. This would still allow for Sanu to beat his current ADP of WR52, but it’s not going make him a guy that wins you your league either.  He’ll likely be a week to week Flex consideration and perhaps a low end WR3.  Just remember that though he’s heading to a nice situation in Atlanta, we shouldn’t get too overzealous.  Sanu is only 27, so perhaps 2017 will be the year to target him.

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