Michael Turner running
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The NFC South is pretty loaded in the running back department.
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Atlanta’s Michael Turner leads the way. He ran for 1371 yards and 12 touchdowns last year. He gets a downgrade in PPR leagues as he only caught 12 passes for 85 yards last year, but he’s a solid RB1. Turner has averaged 91.7 rushing yards and 0.91 rushing touchdowns per game over the past three years. Jason Snelling is one of the game’s best handcuffs because the Falcons hardly missed a beat when he filled in for Turner in the past. If he is a restricted free agent, he could be back with the club. If he is unrestricted it could be hard for them to bring him back. The Falcons drafted Jacquizz Rodgers, but he’ll strictly be the third down back.
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Tampa Bay got a pleasant surprise from LeGarrette Blount, who ran for 1007 yards with six touchdowns. He did his damage in just 201 carries (5.0 ypc).  Cadillac Williams is a free agent, but has expressed his desire to return to the Bucs. Blount is expected to get the bulk of the carries while Cadillac would play in passing situations. Rookie Allen Bradford isn’t expected to steal too many carries.
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Jonathan Stewart (and his keeper league owners) are perhaps second only to DeAngelo Williams and his agent in interest in where D-Will lands next year. If J-Stew has the backfield to himself, he could easily produce top five numbers, though Cam Newton could steal some of his touchdown runs. If Williams returns, Stewart can still be a viable fantasy option. They can definitely coexist for the Panthers and fantasy owners alike. D-Will could also be an elite fantasy option this year if he lands in the right place. If he signs with the Broncos, he could replace Knowshon Moreno as the team’s lead back. D-Will is an important piece in determining next year’s fantasy running back landscape.
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Pierre Thomas looked to be in a great spot when the Saints signed him to a four-year extension. Then they went and drafted Mark Ingram. That move likely sealed the fate of Reggie Bush, who will be sent packing if he doesn’t take a large pay cut. Thomas will likely move to change of pace and third-down duty while Ingram would carry the bulk of the snaps. This is a messy situation that will cause fantasy owners some heartache. Ingram should be a solid RB2 while PT23 should be a solid RB3.
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The NFC South features three of the top quarterbacks in the league and a rookie that wants to become an icon.
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Drew Brees sets the bar for the NFC South, and you need a ladder to reach it. Brees topped 4000 yards for the fifth straight year, 4620 to be exact. His 33 touchdown passes marked his third straight year with at least 33. Brees is remarkably accurate, productive, and consistent. He’s a bona fide star and top tier QB1. It doesn’t seem to matter who is catching the ball for him.
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Matt Ryan made a nice jump into borderline QB1 territory last year. He threw for 3705  yards and 28 touchdowns. Roddy White is one of the most explosive receivers in the league. The Falcons traded the moon for rookie WR Julio Jones to compliment Roddy. I’m not sure Ryan can be much more productive than last year, given their commitment to Michael Turner and the running game, but he should be as good or slightly better. Ryan is a low-end QB1, high-end QB2.
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Josh Freeman quietly turned in a solid season, throwing for 3451 yards and 25 touchdowns. Perhaps as impressive was his INT total (6). He added another 364 yards on the ground. Given his size, I expect Freeman to record his first rushing touchdown next year. His numbers are a little bloated thanks to a five touchdown performance against a dismal Seahawks pass defense in Week 16, but he remains a terrific QB2. Freeman really developed a nice rapport with Mike Williams and Arrelious Benn is ahead of schedule on his ACL recovery and should be more effective in 2011.
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Then you have Cam Newton. He is an amazing athlete, capable of being very productive with his arm and his feet. The lockout could prevent Newton from becoming comfortable with the offense, but he will still have the instincts to make plays with his feet. He’s worth a look late in the draft as a QB2, but he could run hot and cold in 2011, especially if Steve Smith gets his wish and is dealt to a contender.
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Did you miss the playoffs or get eliminated? That doesn’t mean the winning has to stop. SMW Clothing is giving you a shot at redemption. All you have to do is guess the combined passing yards for Drew Brees and Matt Ryan on Monday Night Football. Whoever comes the closest without going over takes home the prize.
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Drew Brees is averaging 294.4 yards per game with a high of 382 and a low of 221. Matt Ryan is averaging 237.2 yards per game with a high of 316 and a low of 174.
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Oh, and if you are still in the hunt in your fantasy league, no worries. You’ll look great in this shirt as you brag about your fantasy football championship. .
As always, be original. If somebody guessed a total you want, you’ll have to come up with another one. Just leave a comment with your best guess and be sure to check out SMW Clothing.
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Image courtesy of Icon SMI

 

Most QBs struggle as a rookie and come back better the following year. When you add a future Hall of Fame tight end, the likelihood should be even greater. Unfortunately Atlanta QB Matt Ryan took a step back in virtually every offensive category.

 

For starters, he missed two games after playing in all 16 as a rookie. They came in weeks 13 & 14, which could have left a lot of fantasy players in a bind during a crucial part of the season. Injuries are part of the game, and Ryan is not at the point where he’s an injury risk.

 

Games played wasn’t the only area he slipped though. His completion percentage dropped from 61.1 percent to 58.3. His yardage went from 3440 to 2916. His TD production increased from 16 to 22, but his INTs increased from 11 to 14. Finally, his passer rating decreased from 87.7 to 80.9. His rushing numbers took a hit as well going from 104 yards to 49.

 

Though he may not have lived up to everybody’s expectations, his per game averages were about the same as he did last year. When you consider that Ryan and RB Michael Turner dealt with injuries last year, it’s not all that surprising that he didn’t have the year we were expecting of him.

 

The Falcons didn’t make any noise by adding another playmaker on offense, but a healthy Michael Turner should be enough to keep defenses honest. He has formed a great rapport with Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez remains one of the best tight ends in the game. Michael Jenkins is an decent #2 WR and Ryan has the ability to make things work.

 

Atlanta has a pretty nice schedule, figuring they will be in two shootouts with the Saints (Week 3 & 16), as well as the Cardinals (2), Eagles (6), and Packers (12). They also have favorable match-ups against the Browns (5), Bucs (9), Rams (11), and Seahawks (15).

 

The best part is Ryan is a QB that you can wait on a bit as you fill your skill positions. By the time you add him as a QB, you should have 2-3 RBs, 2-3 WRs, and possibly a TE. You may want to consider adding a high end QB2 so you can basically alternate between QBs depending on the match-ups.

 

Prediction:  3600 yards, 24 TDs, 12 INTs

 

What do you expect from Matt Ryan?

 

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Matt Ryan Out Week 13

30 November 2009

It’s never too early to start planning for next week’s fantasy match-up, especially as the fantasy playoffs draw near. Even though their is an epic Patriots-Saints game tonight, those of you that own Matt Ryan have other issues on  your mind.

The second-year QB has already been ruled out for Week 13. Maybe they learned their lesson after the way they handled Michael Turner’s injury. He should have never played last week, but that’s a different story for another day.

It’s nice to know he’s out before waiver claims are set. Ryan owners don’t have to hold out hope like Big Ben and Kurt Warner owners did last week.

So who should you pick up?

Chris Redman, Atlanta Falcons
In deep leagues you won’t many choices, especially not ones with Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez at their disposal.

David Garrard, Jacksonville Jaguars
If he’s available in your league, he’s a nice plug-in play this week. He plays extremely well at home, which is where the Jags play this week.

Alex Smith, San Francisco 49ers
The Niners have turned into a pass-first team because of their personnel. They play the Seahawks who have been fantasy-friendly to opposing QBs.

Kyle Orton, Denver Broncos
The long rest between games should do his ankle well. He’s a nice play against Kansas City this week.

Vince Young, Tennessee Titans
I don’t see VY throwing for a ton of yards against the Colts, but he should produce with his feet and do enough with his arm to be a decent emergency fantasy play.

Roddy White flip
Image courtesy of Icon SMI

Roddy White is fresh off a fat, new contract.  I just hope his desire to prove he’s worth that big contract is equal to the drive he showed while auditioning for that contract.  White followed up his breakout third season of 83 receptions for 1202 yards and 6 TDs with an impressive 88 reception, 1382 yard, 7 TD performance.  This while playing with a Rookie QB in Matt Ryan, and a heavy rushing attack led by Michael Turner. 

It would be natural to expect another increase in production had the Falcons not acquired Hall of Fame Tight End Tony Gonzalez.  While Gonzo’s presence will help take some pressure off of Roddy, Gonzo’s going to get his share of receptions, which will cut into Roddy’s numbers.  Having Gonzo in the mix is great the Falcons, it diminishes everyone outside of Matt Ryan’s fantasy value.  Michael Turner’s TD total is bound to drop as Gonzo is great in the red zone.  Roddy and Michael Jenkins’ touches are going to decrease.  Even Gonzo will be targeted less with more weapons to share with.

So where does that leave Roddy in fantasy terms?  I would still take him as a #1 WR, but not until the third round when I have two RBs (or one RB and Brees, Peyton, or Brady).  I’m expecting 75 receptions for 1200 yards and 7 TDs.

Matt Ryan throwing
Image courtesy of Icon SMI

To say that Matt Ryan exceeded expectations last year is a vast understatement.  He started off slow averaging 167.3 yards per game in the first four games with 2 TDs (0.5/gm).  He tore it up in October and November averaging 244.5 ypg with 11 TDs (1.375/gm).  He fizzled a bit down the stretch averaging 203.8 ypg with 3 TDs (0.75/gm).  You would expect some growth from him in his second year, especially with the addition of Tight End Tony Gonzalez, who will team with Roddy White to give the Falcons an excellent 1-2 punch.  Michael Jenkins made strides last year and should benefit from Gonzo’s arrival as well.  Throw in an excellent running game with Michael Turner and Jerious Norwood and the Offense should be firing on all cylinders.

His fantasy schedule isn’t too frightening.  He plays at home against New Orleans, at NY Jets, and at home against the Bills.  His regular season is pretty tough being in a good division, facing the AFC East and the NFC East.  With his  weapons he still should be able to move the chains and put points on the board.  I’m expecting him to throw for around 3600 yards and 22 TDs.  He won’t dominate the fantasy scene, but he should be a pretty good value in the 8th round or so.

drew-brees
1. Drew Brees 
Brees is still top dog.  Although Tom Brady has answered some early questions, he still is more of a risk than Brees as the top gunslinger.
Previous Ranking:  #1

2. Tom Brady
Brady has answered some questions like I stated.  I moved him up a slot because now Manning has questions.  Brady and Bill will want to prove they are the reason for the explosive offense.
Previous Ranking:  #3

3. Peyton Manning
You have been able to pencil Manning for a solid 4000 yard, 25-28 TD season for forever, but without Dungy and Harrison, Manning doesn’t seem to be the lock he once was.
Previous Ranking:  #2

4.  Kurt Warner 
Boldin is still in town.  Warner’s fantasy football playoff schedule of  San Francisco, Detroit, and St. Louis in Weeks 14-16 solidify his high ranking.
Previous Ranking:  #4

5.  Aaron Rodgers
It’s been a quiet offseason for Rodgers and the Packers.  After last year’s fiasco, it must be very welcoming.  Rodgers can concentrate on playing football, something he did quite well last year despite the distractions.  I expect him to be even better in 2009.
Previous Ranking:  #5

 
philip-rivers-handoff
6.  Philip Rivers
They won’t throw as much, but Rivers has so many weapons (Gates, LT, Chambers, Vincent Jackson, Floyd, Sproles, etc.) that he’ll be just fine.
Previous Ranking:  #6

7.  Tony Romo
Romo is another one who has to be enjoying the relative quiet the departure of T.O. has created.  If Roy Williams can step up, Romo could be better by subtraction.
Previous Ranking:  #7

8.  Donovan McNabb
The addition of Jeremy Maclin, even if he’s similar to DeSean Jackson, is enough for me to move him up a couple of slots. 
Previous Ranking:  #10

9.  Matt Ryan
Ryan wasn’t in the first top ten group, but Atlanta has added Tony Gonzalez, the best pass-catching Tight End in NFL history.  With Gonzo, Roddy White, and Michael Jenkins, Ryan will have plenty of options.
Previous Ranking:  Unranked

10.  Carson Palmer
Palmer is still in my top ten, but he’s fading fast.  It appears that Ocho Cinco is going to be a problem again in 2009. 
Previous Ranking:  #9

*Jay Cutler was previous #8, but his move to Chicago and the lack of weapons moved him out of my top ten.

Images courtesy of Icon SMI

Top Ten QB Rankings #1

The biggest question I have for the Falcons is “can they do it again?”.  They have the pieces in place so I don’t see why not.  If Matt Ryan can avoid the Sophomore slump they’ll  be in good shape.  Ryan has plenty of weapons to work with, starting with Michael Turner and Roddy White.  Michael Jenkins made great strides this season and signed a four-year extension in November.  Having their QB, RB, and WRs intact makes the Falcons an attractive team for fantasy owners.  A lot has changed in a year.  Look for Roddy White to get paid this offseason.

Defensively their key free agents are Lawyer Milloy, Jonathan Babineaux, and Brent Grimes.

KFFL Free Agent Tracker:

Pos Player Name FA Status Previous Team Current Team
RB Jason Snelling UFA Atlanta Falcons Free Agent
WR Michael Jenkins Re-signed Atlanta Falcons Atlanta Falcons
OG Harvey Dahl UFA Atlanta Falcons Free Agent
OT Terrance Pennington Signed Atlanta Falcons New York Giants
OT Todd WeinerNew player news! Signed Atlanta Falcons Retired
C Ben Wilkerson UFA Atlanta Falcons Free Agent
OL Renardo Foster UFA Atlanta Falcons Free Agent
DL Jonathan Babineaux UFA Atlanta Falcons Free Agent
CB Brent Grimes UFA Atlanta Falcons Free Agent
CB Antoine Harris ERFA Atlanta Falcons Free Agent
SS Lawyer Milloy UFA Atlanta Falcons Free Agent

Atlanta Falcons Preview

1 September 2008

 

Well, at least the Falcons didn’t have their star QB arrested on dog fighting charges this offseason.  They brought in new Coach Mike Smith, Jacksonville’s former Defensive Coordinator.  Hopefully he doesn’t quit on them like Bobby Petrino.

Offensively they are handing the keys to Boston College Rookie Matt Ryan at QB.  He has a couple of decent threats in Roddy White, who emerged last year with 83 catches for 1202 yards, and 6 TDs, and Michael Jenkins.  Alge Crumpler has moved on to Tennessee and has been replaced by Ben Hartsock.  Their prized free agent signing was Running Back Michael “Burner” Turner from San Diego.  He’ll get teh chance to be the lead back for a change.  Jerious Norwood will be the change-of-pace back as Warrick Dunn returned to Tampa.

Defensivley they are going to hope Jamaal Anderson can improve as a second-year DE.  If he can, he’ll take some of the pressure off John Abraham, who had ten Sacks last year.  Keith Brooking and Michael Boley each had over 100 tackles at Linebacker.  Demorrio Williams has moved on to Kansas City, and will be replaced by Tony Taylor.  Another key missing piece is DeAngelo Hall, who went to Oakland.  He had big ability, but a big attitude to match.  Brent Grimes will step in to replace him to go with Chris Houston.  Chris Crocker was solid at Safety, but went to Miami and will be replaced by Erik Coleman.  Lawyer Milloy returns at the other Safety position.  He had 90 tackles last year.

Let’s see.  A lot of turnover on Defense.  Rookie QB.  Rookie Head Coach.  Yeah, this team is destined to fail.  Not only will they finish in the bottom of NFC South, they will challenge for the worst record in football.

Fantasy-wise there isn’t much to offer in the ATL.  Michael Turner is worth a gamble on a #1 or #2 RB slot, but you don’t know what you are going to get.  Roddy White makes a solid #3 WR in most formats.  Matt Ryan, Jerious Norwood, and Michael Jenkins are fantasy backups at best.  You’re not going to get rich (i.e. win your fantasy league) relying on too many Falcons.  Look elsewhere.


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