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Monday, August 19, 2013

Team Talk: Atlanta Falcons

What's up Brainiacs!  We've got something special for you over the next couple weeks, it's a series that we are calling "Team Talk" where we break down the fantasy options for each team in the NFL.  I kicked it off with a piece on the Arizona Cardinals since I find them so intriguing, but we'll back up to Atlanta today and do this thing alphabetically from here.

The best part is that I would like to introduce a new Fantasy Sports Brain writer to you:  Adam Filadelfo!  He has done some online work in fantasy football in the past and we're happy to have his expertise added to the voices that you normally see in this space.

You can find him on Twitter:  @Frostt24  Give him a follow!

Here we go!

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It's August and that could only mean one thing. Time for Fantasy Football drafts! There are so many directions a fantasy owner can go. Should I wait on an elite QB? Should I reach for that stud WR? Do I grab a stud RB to start? What players should I draft from each team? Hopefully this answers some of those questions for you.

Let's take a look at why we should draft players on the Atlanta Falcons. The obvious reason is because these players will help us achieve our ultimate goal of winning a fantasy football championship. But let's look a little deeper as to why we should draft these players.

Matt Ryan - Obviously Matt Ryan is an elite fantasy football QB but there are several elite QB's in fantasy football. Why Matt Ryan? Simple. Matt Ryan has numerous weapons at his disposal. He has quite possibly the best WR tandem in the NFL and a future Hall of Fame Tight End to throw to. Add to that, he gets a very good pass catching RB this season. What makes Matty Ice more intriguing as a fantasy QB is the Falcons are a pass heavy team. They aren't afraid to throw all over the field and with the ability of Ryan's playmakers, that could lead to an array of fantasy points for Matty Ice. If you are lucky enough to get Matt Ryan as your QB, there are a few nuggets worth noting. He needs to cut down on his INT's. There were a few games last season where Matty Ice went cold and threw more INT's than he threw TD's. For as great as the Falcons signal caller can be, he tends to force the ball downfield to Julio Jones which leads to more turnovers than he should probably have. If Ryan wants to take the next step, he needs to cut down on the picks. With that said, don't shy away from Matt Ryan in the later rounds of your draft.

Steven Jackson - This is Jackson's 1st season in Atlanta and most are expecting big things from him. For starters, Jackson is a tremendous pass catcher out of the backfield and in a PPR league, that's gold! The threat of the passing game could open up huge holes for S-Jax and possibly goal line work as well. When he was in St Louis, Jackson was a fantasy stud so it should go without saying that going to a high octane offense should do wonders for his fantasy value. He will be the featured back which will lead to a big workload, which in turn should help produce big fantasy numbers.  In turn, a big workload this season could easily lead to a "bust" season as well. Jackson is 30 years old and has a ton of carries over his career in St. Louis. There is a good chance S-Jax could fall off the proverbial cliff at his age so if you draft him, make sure he's not your RB1 and have depth at the position behind him in case that drop off does occur this season.

Jacquizz Rodgers - Rodgers is clearly the backup in Atlanta so why draft him? Two words. Steven Jackson. As valuable a fantasy commodity as S-Jax should be this season, there is a lot of miles on him. There is a realistic chance Jackson gets injured or misses time towards the end of the season. What better handcuff to have than Jackson's real life handcuff. Like Steven Jackson, Jacquizz Rodgers is a good pass catcher out of the backfield. In an elite offense like Atlanta's, Rodgers can help owners of S-Jax if he goes down during the season. On the flip side, if Jackson can remain healthy throughout 2013, Rodgers will provide little to no fantasy value at all thus wasting a valuable roster spot on your bench. Also, Rodgers is still a relatively unknown in fantasy since he hasn't proven much at this level. He's shown signs of being a draft worthy backup, but there's a good chance he's a waiver wire pickup in most shallow leagues.


Roddy White - It seems like Roddy White is an afterthought in some fantasy drafts. He may not have the flash of his counterpart, but White is as consistent as they come. He's all but a guarantee for 100 receptions, 1000 yards and close to double digit scores. With the defenses attention on Julio Jones, White can deliver for fantasy owners and has the potential to post monster numbers on any given week. He has great hands and is trusted by Matt Ryan which in turn will get White more targets. He is a staple of the Falcons passing game. For as consistent as White is, Julio Jones looks to be the favorite target of Matt Ryan. White could see a decrease in targets as Julio see an increase. White is reliable but Jones is that home run hitter that fantasy owners covet. At some point, Roddy White will have to give way to Jones. This could be the year.

Julio Jones - There's a reason the Falcons moved up in the draft to get Julio Jones out of Alabama. He's got the potential to be an elite WR for years to come. Even in double coverage, Jones can make spectacular catches and has the potential for big plays thanks to his speed & quickness. Julio Jones will cost you an early pick in your draft but the payoff is well worth where he's being drafted. He's a top 5 WR for sure who Matt Ryan always looks for when wanting to throw the ball deep downfield. The only problem with Jones is he tends to be a boom or bust type player. He can have big point games or very little points games. He's a deep threat which means there's potential for significant letdowns. When he goes off, you'll be happy you drafted him but be prepared to have some low scoring games mixed in as well.

Tony Gonzalez - Not many teams can claim they have a Hall of Fame Tight End on their roster. The Falcons can. Tony G is as sure handed as they come and has returned for his final season because he feels the Falcons are close to winning it all. He's a top option for Matt Ryan and is a top target in the red zone. Not only is Gonzalez a PPR dream, he's going to get plenty of opportunities to score TD's as well. In a season where the TE position is at its scarcest in a while, Tony G should produce for his fantasy owners if you're lucky enough to draft him. Just know that if you do draft Tony Gonzalez, he is 37 years old, coming out of retirement after playing 16 seasons in the NFL to play one last season. An injury is very possible, especially since there is no off-season for the 37 year old  this time. There's in shape, and there's NFL shape. Perhaps the future HOF should have rode off into the sunset after his first NFC Championship  appearance. Buyer beware.

D/ST - The Falcons  added a few playmakers on the defensive side of the ball this off-season which should mak an already good fantasy defense a bit more formidable. They've ramped up their front line by adding Osi Umenyiora. That could lead to more sacks which leads to fantasy points. Although the Atlanta defense may not be a top defense off the board come draft day, they could be a top sleeper. Bye week fill in is probably best case scenario with the Falcons defense this season. Atlanta will probably engage in some shootouts especially being in the same division as the Saints. Like I previously stated, even with the defensive line upgrade, Atlanta is not a fantasy defense you should feel comfortable trotting out there on a weekly basis.