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Tuesday, May 20, 2014

Team Talk: Atlanta Falcons

By Adam Filadelfo (@Frostt24):

The Atlanta Falcons showed so much promise so recently, but they completely fell apart just one year removed from making a trip to the NFC championship game. Most expect 2014 to be a bounce back season for the birds in Atlanta.

Matt Ryan- After receiving a hefty contract extension prior to 2013 beginning, Matt Ryan fell short of fantasy owners expectations mainly in part to his two best receivers being hurt for the entire season. Ryan did manage to finish the 2013 campaign with 273 fantasy points and 4,515 yards with 26 touchdown passes. If Roddy White and Julio Jones can stay healthy in 2014, there is no reason to think Matt Ryan can't be an elite fantasy starter once again reverting back to his 2012 self.

Steven Jackson- After being banged up and missing 4 games in 2013, Steven Jackson goes into 2014 a question mark as far as fantasy running backs are concerned. The talent is obviously there but Jackson took a huge step back in an offense that he should've thrived in. Granted there were multiple injuries that could've contributed to the slip of Jackson's play, but he played with lesser talent for many years in St. Louis and accomplished more. Age could finally be catching up to the stud running back but he's obviously worthy of having a place on fantasy rosters heading into 2014. Jackson can still be very useful in PPR formats as 2013 saw him haul in 33 catches for 191 yards and a touchdown. Jackson finished 2013 with 115 fantasy points but took a step back as far as fantasy football players are concerned.

Jacquizz Rodgers- While I wouldn't close the door on Jacquizz Rodgers by any means, 2013 just may have proved that Rodgers isn't the back fantasy owners thought he may be when given the chance to take over as lead back when Steven Jackson went down for four games. While Jacquizz can be a decent option should the opportunity arise again in 2014, he may have left some fantasy owners with a bad taste in their mouths after underperforming last season. He finished with under 100 fantasy points which is pretty disappointing considering the Falcons are a high powered offense and Jacquizz had plenty of opportunities to catch balls out of the backfield. He did finish with 52 receptions for 331 yards and two touchdowns through the air so 2013 wasn't completely a letdown but fantasy owners probably needed just a bit more from a running back in a high powered offense. Again, do not close the door on Rodgers for 2014. It isn't like Steven Jackson has that much time left as a lead back.

Harry Douglas- Douglas proved to be a very serviceable receiver in the absence of Julio Jones and Roddy White. He finished with 85 receptions for over 1,000 yards and two touchdowns and gave fantasy owners 118 fantasy points when honestly, fantasy owners weren't expecting much from him when both top receivers went down with injuries. With Jones and White both healthy heading into 2014, I wouldn't expect too much from Douglas but when the Falcons and fantasy owners needed him most, he came through and added some depth to the depleted receiving corp.

Roddy White- Roddy White has been the picture of consistency up until 2013 and that was only due to an ankle injury he suffered back in the preseason that just wouldn't go away because Roddy White refused to miss time. Eventually, his presence on the field hurt the Falcons and he was forced to miss time. He did finish the season strong and looks to be back to full strength heading into 2014. Fantasy owners can take solace in knowing that when Roddy White was playing in 13 games in 2013, he had 63 catches for over 700 yards and three touchdowns. White ended the season with 89 fantasy points over his 13 game span which averages out to just under seven fantasy points per game. Not that bad from a receiver with a bum ankle. I obviously look for a bounce back Roddy White like season this year.

Julio Jones
- Another top Falcons target that went down with a devastating injury. Jones only saw five games in 2013 but in that short amount of time, led the NFL in receiving yards. Jones had 41 receptions for 580 yards and two touchdowns before the injury cut his season short and 2014 will undoubtedly see Julio Jones tear up the NFL once again.