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Monday, June 1, 2015

Team Talk: Atlanta Falcons

By Adam Filadelfo (@FNTSYArchitect)

Continuing the Team Preview series, it's time to move over to the NFC South and take a look at the Atlanta Falcons. Coming off of a disappointing 2014, the Falcons will look to get back on track in 2015 and make some fantasy owners happy. There aren't many changes heading into the 2015 season as far as fantasy football is concerned but another year with Matt Ryan throwing to Julio Jones is always interesting for fantasy owners. Let's see what the dirty birds have in store for fantasy owners in 2015.

Matt Ryan- Quarterback- Coming off of a season where fantasy owners may have been a little disappointed in the former Boston College signal caller, Matty Ice averaged 22.6 fantasy points per game in 2014 and scored 25 fantasy points or more in only six games all season. He did throw for over 4,600 yards and 28 touchdowns but fantasy owners were expecting a little more production and consistency from the Falcons quarterback. Expect Ryan to be in the second tier of quarterbacks take off the board come draft day.

Julio Jones- Wide Receiver- Now entering his fifth season in the NFL, Julio Jones just seems to get better each and every year. In 2014, Jones averaged 13 fantasy points per game while seeing 163 targets. He finished the season with 104 receptions and over 1,500 yards and six touchdowns. He also scored double digit fantasy points in nine games in 2014. There isn't much else to say about the former Alabama stand out except fantasy owners should expect more of the same when it comes to Julio Jones. His only downfall will be if he remains healthy enough to play a full season.

Roddy White- Wide Receiver- The days of Roddy White being the Falcons number one wide out are clearly behind him at this point. Regardless of playing second fiddle behind Julio Jones, White has still been productive for fantasy owners and the Falcons. His 2014 season saw White average just under 10 fantasy points per game while seeing 124 targets for 80 receptions and 924 yards. He also had one more touchdown than Jones did and one less game of double digit fantasy points. While Roddy White clearly isn't the top target in Atlanta anymore, he can still give fantasy owners a boost to their receiving corp. He should not be overlooked on draft day.

Devin Hester- Wide Receiver- With the exception of a couple of games early in the season, Hester wasn't much of a fantasy asset in 2014. Averaging under five fantasy points per game, Hester was nothing more than a week one waiver wire pickup who could be used in the flex spot only and really didn't even warrant that. He scored double digit fantasy points in back to back games  in weeks three and four but not again until week 15. He finished his first season with the Falcons with 38 catches for just over 500 yards and a touchdown. Fantasy owners shouldn't expect anything more than that heading into 2015.

Justin Hardy- Wide Receiver- The rookie out of East Carolina set a record for most catches in college football history with 387 and had 4,541 yards and 35 touchdowns to go with it. A fourth round pick in the 2015 draft, fantasy owners should expect Hardy's role to be third receiver replacing the production the Falcons lost in Harry Douglas but could supplant Roddy White as the number two before all is said and done. Justin Hardy has some eye popping numbers coming out of college and if that talent translates to the NFL, fantasy owners will know the name Justin Hardy before his rookie season is over.

Devonta Freeman- Running Back- His rookie season was not what fantasy owners were expecting and Freeman didn't even produce much of anything in the passing game either. Starting the season behind Steven Jackson, even when Freeman got the chance to shine, never really did. He averaged just under four fantasy points per game and produced one game of double digit fantasy points. And that game came in week 16 versus a pathetic Saints defense. Freeman may get the chance to show what he can (or cannot) do in 2015 but fantasy owners don't have much to get excited over at this point until Freeman proves us wrong.