3 Falcons Players Who Have a Make-or-Break 2020 Season Ahead

Max Staley
Matt Ryan and Dan Quinn will need solid production from some more unheralded Falcons players.
Matt Ryan and Dan Quinn will need solid production from some more unheralded Falcons players. / Justin Casterline/Getty Images
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Even though they've been operating with limited cap space, the Atlanta Falcons have already made some significant moves this offseason. Austin Hooper, Devonta Freeman and Desmond Trufant are off the team, but big-name talents like Todd Gurley and Dante Fowler have joined up to help fill that void.

With so much movement on the roster, there are some Falcons players that the team will be relying on more than others. Let's take a look at three Falcons set for make-or-break seasons in 2020.

1. Todd Gurley

Todd Gurley will be in line for a big workload on the Atlanta Falcons.
Todd Gurley will be in line for a big workload on the Atlanta Falcons. / John McCoy/Getty Images

Gurley hasn't looked like himself since midway through the 2018-19 season. He averaged below 4.0 yards per carry for just the second time in his career last year, and he never looked fully recovered from his lingering knee issue. In his defense, however, it's fair to wonder how much of a role the Los Angeles' Rams deteriorating offensive line played in Gurley's lack of production last season. In both 2017 and 2018 Gurley finished as a first-team All-Pro running behind a top-three offensive line according to Football Outsiders' Adjusted Line Yards. The Rams fell to No. 19 last season, though. Now playing behind an offensive line that features five first-round picks in Atlanta, Gurley has a chance to prove he's still among the league's bast backs.

2. Hayden Hurst

Hayden Hurst will have a tough task taking over for Austin Hooper.
Hayden Hurst will have a tough task taking over for Austin Hooper. / Scott Taetsch/Getty Images

The Falcons clearly added Hayden Hurst to account for the loss of Hooper. They paid a steep price (second-round pick) for a player with a relatively limited track record, though. While Hooper is coming off back-to-back campaigns of at least 650 receiving yards, Hurst has never reached even 350 over a full season. He has been remarkably efficient, however. His 8.9 yards per target were tied for sixth-best at the position, putting him just 0.1 yards behind Travis Kelce and ahead of stars like Mark Andrews and Hunter Henry. Set for a bigger role in Atlanta, Hurst needs to prove he was worth the hefty trade package the Falcons sent out.

3. Keanu Neal

Keanu Neal has been seriously limited by injuries in recent years.
Keanu Neal has been seriously limited by injuries in recent years. / Josh Lefkowitz/Getty Images

Keanu Neal is one of the most talented safeties in football. But since making the Pro Bowl in 2017, he's only played a combined four games over the last two seasons. He'll be an unrestricted free agent after this season, though, and unless Neal proves he can stay on the field, it's tough to imagine him earning a big deal from the Falcons. With Trufant out of the picture, and Atlanta having finished as a bottom-10 pass defense by Football Outsiders' DVOA metrics, the Falcons need a big season from Neal as badly as he does.


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Max Staley is not a FanDuel employee. In addition to providing DFS gameplay advice, Max Staley also participates in DFS contests on FanDuel using his personal account, username mstaley1212. While the strategies and player selections recommended in his articles are his personal views, he may deploy different strategies and player selections when entering contests with his personal account. The views expressed in their articles are the author's alone and do not necessarily reflect the views of FanDuel.

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