Fantasy Team Preview: Falcons

BY John Halpin • July 31, 2013

Overall outlook: The Falcons’ offense is a fantasy feast, with studs all over the place.

Bye week: 6

Quarterback: Matt Ryan

Ranked fifth with 368.9 fantasy points in 2012 … Fifth in passing yardage (4,719) and touchdowns (32), with a so-so 14 interceptions … Average running production for a QB, with 33 carries for 138 yards and a TD … Look for more of the same in 2013, making Ryan a top-six fantasy QB once again.

Running back: Steven Jackson

Ranked 16th with 162.3 fantasy points in 2012 … Was 13th in among RBs in carries (257), 15th in rushing yards (1,042), 18th in receptions (38) and 14th in receiving yards (321), while scoring four touchdowns … Many analysts see the move to Atlanta as a boon for the 30-year-old Jackson’s fantasy value, but did the Falcons rank 26th in rushing attempts last season because they lost faith in Michael Turner, or because that’s how their offense was supposed to work? … On the bright side, the Falcons seem interested in utilizing Jackson’s receiving skills, and that will keep him on the field … He’s ranked as a low-end RB1 on many lists, which seems aggressive.

Running back: Jacquizz Rodgers

Ranked 33rd with 88.4 fantasy points in 2012 … Was fourth among RBs with 53 receptions, and eighth with 402 receiving yards … Ran just 94 times for 362 yards as a change-of-pace back … Will Jackson’s three-down skills diminish Rodgers’ role? Analysts are pessimistic, ranking him on the RB4/5 cusp … Still better in PPR formats.

Wide receiver: Julio Jones

Ranked ninth with 182.8 fantasy points in 2012 … A big-play guy, Jones was 15th among wideouts with 79 receptions, 11th with 1,198 yards, and T-6 with 10 touchdowns … Going among the top five receivers in early drafts, and some think he could be the best in the league soon … Reportedly put on 10 pounds of muscle during the offseason, and has drawn raves in training camp.

Wide receiver: Roddy White

Ranked 10th – one spot behind Jones – with 177.1 fantasy points in 2012 … Was eighth in receptions (92), ninth in yards (1,351) and T-7 in touchdowns (seven) … Had 143 targets to Jones’ 129, but his target total hit a five-year low due to Jones’ emergence … Still a top-10 stud fantasy WR at age 31.

Tight end: Tony Gonzalez

Ranked third with 141 fantasy points in 2012 … Second among tight ends in receptions (93), third in yards (930) and T-4 in touchdowns (eight) … Had planned to retire, but was talked into one more season, much to the delight of fantasy owners … No reason why he can’t repeat, even at age 37.

Placekicker: Matt Bryant

Second among fantasy kickers with 156 points in 2012 … T-3 in field goal attempts (38), T-2 in field goals made (33) and T-8 in extra points … Accurate, consistent and plays home games in a dome … Should be picked as one of the top two or three kickers.

Team defense (DST)

Ranked 20th with 110 fantasy points in 2012 … Fifth in points allowed (299) but 24th in yards allowed (5,849) – can you say “bend, but don’t break?” … T-5 in interceptions (20), 28th in sacks (29), T-13 in fumble recoveries (11), and scored two touchdowns … Even with the addition of Osi Umenyiora to help the pass rush, this isn’t a top-12 fantasy unit.