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McCaffrey, Peterson drive NFC South running back battles

The Saints running back situation got even more difficult to handicap with the arrival of Adrian Peterson. Derick E. Hingle-USA TODAY Sports

Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan had achieved several seasons as a top-10 fantasy scorer at his position before 2016 and established a fantasy baseline of sorts, but last season Ryan emerged as far more. Ryan went from borderline 10-team fantasy starter at best to among the best in the sport, and now, coming off a Super Bowl appearance that shouldn’t affect Ryan’s fantasy standing one bit, it’s been rather interesting to see how fantasy owners view the nine-year veteran.

After all, for all the great numbers Ryan produced for fantasy owners last season -- only Arizona running back David Johnson and Green Bay quarterback Aaron Rodgers outscored him -- our final memories of him are, unfortunately, negative ones, and it’s tough to find projections expecting a repeat of his fantastic regular season. It can’t be because Tom Brady and the New England Patriots found a way to make a historic comeback to win the February game, but many still see Ryan as an average statistical provider likely to revert to his old ways. After all, fantasy owners tend to overthink everything.

We’ll delve a bit more into the defending NFC champion Falcons later as we tackle our third summer division report, with the NFC East and NFC North having been covered. For now we investigate the division featuring the past two quarterbacks to lose a Super Bowl, and by the way, Cam Newton didn’t struggle in 2017 because of what happened in his February loss to Denver. Ryan won’t either!