Jan 20, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) celebrates a touchdown catch against the San Francisco 49ers with wide receiver Roddy White (84) during the second quarter of the NFC Championship game at the Georgia Dome. Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

NFL Fantasy Draft: Which Falcons To Pick & When

The Atlanta Falcons are stacked on talent. The time has come where every fantasy football fanatic is fine tuning their draft boards & strategy to build a team that can hopefully lead them to glory at seasons end. The glory of holding ultimate boasting rights over your pals during the highly dreaded offseason, that is. For most of us who can’t run a 4.4 second 40 yard dash or put up 20+ reps of 225 (or even one for that matter), this is as close to the Lombardi trophy as we will ever get.

The Dirty Birds high-powered offense boasts many dangerous weapons, both on the gridiron & in the fantasy world. Here is a rundown of the biggest names and where you should be aiming to take them (given that you are using the standard nfl.com scoring/roster format).

 

WR Julio Jones

 

Aug 23, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) shown on the sideline against the Tennessee Titans during the second half at the Georgia Dome. The Titans defeated the Falcons 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

Aug 23, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Julio Jones (11) shown on the sideline against the Tennessee Titans during the second half at the Georgia Dome. The Titans defeated the Falcons 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

2014 Projected Stats:

Games Played: 16

Receiving Yards: 1450

Rushing Yards: 70

TD: 12

Fantasy PPG: 12.9

Potential Pick: Mid 2nd Round

 

Notes:

Jones is a freak of nature who can do anything. He can take a 2-yard slant to the house with his breakaway speed and powerhouse physique, which makes him nearly impossible to tackle 1 on 1. The only thing that has stopped him so far is a nagging foot injury which derailed a promising 2013 campaign, where he still averaged 100 yards per game. A full season from the 25 year old could result in late 1st round value, netting stats better than AJ Green & Brandon Marshall. With Tony Gonzalez gone, the 6 foot 3 Jones will see a heavy increase in red zone looks, allowing him to easily register double-digit touchdown numbers.

 

WR Roddy White

 

Aug 23, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White (84) makes a move on Tennessee Titans strong safety Bernard Pollard (31) after a catch in the first quarter of their game at the Georgia Dome. The Titans won 24-17. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

2014 Projected Stats:

Games Played: 14

Receiving Yards: 990

Rushing Yards: 10

TD: 5

Fantasy PPG: 9.3

Potential Pick: Late 4th Round – Early 5th

Notes:

Rowdy Roddy White is still a superstar receiver who will put up big reception numbers, however I can see him missing a couple of games late in the season as his 32 year old frame takes a few knocks. No longer is he the #1 playmaker on the Falcon’s offense and his touchdown numbers should pail in comparison to that of his wideout wingman Jones.

 

QB Matt Ryan

 

Aug 23, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons quarterback Matt Ryan (2) passes against the Tennessee Titans during the first half at the Georgia Dome. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

2014 Projected Stats:

Games Played: 16

Passing Yards: 4677

TD: 30

Int: 13

Fantasy PPG: 17.97

Potential Pick: Mid 6th Round

 

Notes:

Matty Ice’s overall play & stat line will almost definitely improve from last years car wreck of a season. Additions to the offensive line should see him throwing from an upright position & the return of Julio Jones will give him a much needed redzone target. If both WRs can stay healthy and 2nd year tight end Toilolo can make some 3rd down catches, look for Ryan to score better than other QBs such as Colin Kaepernick, RG3 & Russell Wilson.

 

RB Stephen Jackson

 

Dec 29, 2013; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Steven Jackson (39) runs against the defense of Carolina Panthers cornerback Melvin White (23) during the second half at the Georgia Dome. The Panthers defeated the Falcons 21-20. Mandatory Credit: Dale Zanine-USA TODAY Sports

2014 Projected Stats:

Games Played: 10

Rushing Yards: 537

Receiving Yards: 155

TD: 5

Fantasy PPG: 9.5

Potential Pick: Late 7th – Early 8th

 

Notes:

An aging back with ever growing injury concerns, Jackson couldn’t even stay healthy through training camp and this doesn’t bode well for him. It seems extremely unlikely that he will put up Pro Bowl caliber numbers like he did in his Rams days but he is still a lock for goal line touches (he is our only viable running back over 210 pounds) and 10-15 carries a game IF he can stay on the field. Yes, IF is in capital letters for a reason….

 

Waiver Wire Pickups:

Oct 27, 2013; Phoenix, AZ, USA; Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Harry Douglas (83) runs with the ball during the first half against the Arizona Cardinals at University of Phoenix Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Matt Kartozian-USA TODAY Sports

 

RB Jacquizz Rodgers

Unfortunately, last season I fell victim to the potential breakout of Rodgers after Jackson went down. I gobbled him up in a couple of leagues as soon as I heard that he was in line for a start, but the proactive thinking never paid off. Rodgers has been given his chances and ultimately seems no more than a change of pace back who may hit the occasional home run.

WR Harry Douglas

HD seriously impressed last year by posting career highs across the board (85 REC, 1067 YDS, 2 TDs). He proved to the NFL world that when he gets his chance, he can shine. However, the hardest part is that he is 3rd on the depth chart behind arguably the best duo of WRs in the league. Snatch him up immediately if either of the staters fall victim to injury.

RB Devonta Freeman

The rookie RB from the reigning NCAA champion Seminoles has tremendous upside, however he is hidden amongst a crowded backfield, which will ultimately share the carries between 3-4 backs. Freeman will be given time to develop & may optimistically see 5 carries a game, nowhere near enough to make an impact to your fantasy team. Keep a key eye on him though, if Jackson goes down again and Rodgers fails to impress, the rookie may find himself thrust into action as the feature back.

TE Levine Toilolo

It has been reported that the 2nd year tight end has added a lot of upper body muscle to his 6 foot 8 frame this offseason. This coupled with the fact that the Falcons offense is transitioning to a heavier WR centered pass game indicate that a lot of Toilolo’s snaps are going to be spent blocking. The TE position on the Falcons roster isn’t going to be a fantasy factor this year.

Defense

The Falcons defense is ranked dead last on nfl.com projections alongside Washington. Stay clear….

 

Final Word

Falcons studs Jones, White & Ryan will serve as a great addition to any team and can start on a weekly basis. Be sure to have backup plans when drafting your team, incase one of your superstars goes down. Keep a close watch on Harry Douglas & Devonta Freeman as the season progresses, as injuries may thrust them into fantasy relevance. Good luck drafting!

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