Roddy White flip
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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
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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.

This is my preseason top ten.

Click here for my Midseason revised rankings.

Click here for my Second Half rankings.

fitz1
1.  Larry Fitzgerald
It was actually close for me between Fitz and Andre Johnson, but after his playoff run, no way I can not chose #11.  He reached 1400 yards and double-digit TDs for the third time in his last four seasons.  Kurt Warner is back.  I knew about the leaping ability, his body control, great route running, and hands, but I did not know he had that extra gear that he kicked in during his long Super Bowl TD.  That HAD to scare Defensive Coordinators to death.

2.  Andre Johnson
I let the cat out of the bag already with Johnson, but a quick glance at his numbers (115 receptions, 1575 yards, 8 TDs) and you can see why he was 1-A prior to the playoffs.  His QB, Matt Schaub, has a tendency to get hurt.  Having his backup, Sage Rosenfels, leave for Minnesota hurts his value a little.  Not enough to knock him out of the second slot, but it’s a question mark that wasn’t there last year.

3. Calvin Johnson
Megatron is right on par with the top two.  He just happens to play for the lowly Lions.  He still managed 1331 yards and 12 TDs.  He’s just getting his feet wet in the league, and the Lions should be a little more stable at QB next year with Culpepper participating in OTAs and training camp.  Plus, they very well could be selecting a stud QB or Offensive Lineman in the draft.

4.  Reggie Wayne
Wayne had a down year for the Colts (1145 yards, 6 TDs), but with Marvin Harrison not returning, I see no reason why Wayne doesn’t bounce back with a 1400 yard, 10 TD season.  If the Colts didn’t have so many other weapons, I’d put him in the top three.

5.  Steve Smith
Smith had 1421 yards despite missing two games for breaking teammate Ray Lucas’ nose in the preseason, having a less than stellar QB, and playing on a run first team.  That speaks volumes about Smith’s ability.  I don’t think he’ll break anyone’s nose this year so he should play a full season, but the other two scenarios won’t change.  Still, he’s too good to move any further.

randy-moss-td
6.  Randy Moss
With Tom Brady back under Center, Randy Moss moves up a few notches from where he finished in 2008.  Will he snag another 23 TD passes?  Hardly.  How about close to 1500 yards?  Not likely.  However, a 1300 yards, 12 TD season should be easily attainable.

7.  Greg Jennings
Jennings meshed well with first time QB Aaron Rodgers proving he wasn’t a mirage created by Brett Favre’s gunslinging ways.  Jenning actually proved to be more of a possession receiver recording 55 first downs (compared to 37 in 2008).  He also improved by 27 receptions and 372 yards.  His TD total decreased from 12 to 9, but his yards per catch didn’t change dramatically (17.4 to 16.2).  Rodgers won’t have to deal with the Favremania this offseason and won’t have quite as much pressure on him to escape #4′s shadow.  They can just focus on playing football, something both Jennings and Rodgers do well.

8.  Anquan Boldin
Boldin would be higher if  he could stay healthy (16 missed games in six season) and if his contract status weren’t in question.  Playing opposite of Larry Fitzgerald helps.  Having Kurt Warner at QB also helps.  Even if he forced his way out of Arizona, he would still produce in a new system.  He’s that good.

9.  Roddy White
White was great last year catching 88 passes for 1382 yards and 7 TDs with Rookie QB Matt Ryan proving his 2007 numbers (83, 1202, 6) weren’t a fluke.  As Ryan grows as a QB so will Roddy.  Michael Jenkins took a step forward last year to give him a compliment at wideout.  Plus, Defenses have Michael Turner to worry about.

10. Terrell Owens
I’m sure you’re well aware that T.O. landed in Buffalo.  While it’s not an ideal situation, T.O. should be motivated to prove Dallas wrong.  He has double-digit TDs in seven of his last nine seasons.  Lee Evans is the best Wide Receiver mate that T.O. has seen in quite some time.  His deep ball threat will keep Safeties honest.  T.O. could be in for a very big year.  I have him at ten because being T.O., his mouth could get him into trouble at any time.

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Running Backs

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.

Week 1
Colt Brennan (WAS) – 9/10, 123 passing yards, 2 TDs
Marcus Mason (WAS) – 18 carries, 98 yards & 16 carries for 80 yards
Calvin Johnson (DET) – 4 catches, 78 yards
Brett Ratliff (NYJ) – 14/20, 252 yards, 2 TDs
David Clowney (NYJ) – 4 catches, 163 yards, 2 TDs
Martin Rucker (CLE) – 5 catches, 70 yards
LaMont Jordan (NE) – 19 carries, 76 yards, TD
Robert Meachem (NO) – 4 catches, 129 yards
Garrett Wolfe (CHI) – 9 carries, 64 yards, 1 catch, 25 yard
DeSean Jackson (PHI) – 5 catches, 51 yards
Seneca Wallace (SEA) – 15/20, 165 yards, 3 TDs
Louis Rankin (OAK) – 8 carries, 91 yards
Josh Morgan (SF) – 4 catches, 68 yards
Billy McMullen (WAS) – 6 catches, 55 yards
Jared Lorenzen (INDY) – 12/23, 117 yards, 2 TDs
Decori Birmingham (CAR) – 17 carries, 70 yards
Jacob Tamme (INDY) – 5 catches, 57 yards
Roddy White (ATL) – 5 catches, 47 yards, 1 TD
Michael Bennett (TB) – 19 carries, 74 yards, TD, 4 catches, 16 yards
Quinton Ganther (TENN) – 8 carries, 115 yards, 2 TDs
Chris Johnson (TENN) – 6 carries, 77 yards, TD
Dane Looker (STL) – 4 catches, 73 yards
David Anderson (HOU) – 6 catches, 67 yards
Jacob Hester (SD) – 13 carries, 49 yards, 2 TDs
Miles Austin (DAL) – 5 catches, 64 yards

Week 2
Trent Edwards
(BUF) – 9/11, 104 yards, 2 TDs
Robert Royal (BUF) – 2 catches, 20 yards, 2 TDs
Tony Hunt (PHI) – 5 carries, 79 yards, TD
DeSean Jackson (PHI) – 7 catches, 71 yards
Adimchinobi Echemandu (OAK) – 3 carries, 77 yards
Lavelle Hawkins (TENN) – 2 catches, 70 yards, TD
Brett Ratliff (NYJ) – 13/19, 148 yards
Rock Cartwright (WAS) – 6 carries, 90 yards
David Clowney (NYJ) – 4 catches, 59 yards
Chad Henne (MIA) – 17/26, 133 yards
Todd Bouman (JAX) – 9/13, 126 yards, TD
Ricky Williams (MIA) – 10 carries, 43 yards, TD
Ted Ginn, Jr. (MIA) – 4 catches, 58 yards
Ryan Hoag (JAX) – 3 catches, 71 yards
Ray Rice (BAL) – 8 carries, 77 yards, TD
Martin Nance (MINN) – 3 catches, 74 yards, TD
Michael Turner (ATL) – 4 carries, 113 yards
Jacob Tamme (INDY) – 3 catches, 57 yards
Larry Johnson (KC) – 14 carries, 61 yards
Tim Castille (ARI) – 4 catches, 45 yards, TD
Jacob Hester (SD) – 12 carries, 59 yards
Antonio Pittman (STL) – 9 carries, 67 yards
Randy McMichael (STL) – 3 catches, 54 yards
Matt Schaub (HOU) – 14/16, 187 yards, 2 TDs
Drew Brees (NO) – 12/17, 147 yards, 2 TDs
Kevin Walter (HOU) – 6 catches, 100 yards, TD
David Anderson (HOU) – 3 catches, 61 yards
Lance Moore (STL) – 3 catches, 65 yards
Brad Johnson (DAL) – 9/12, 114 yards, TD
Jay Cutler (DEN) – 16/20, 178 yards, TD
Brandon Marshall (DEN) – 6 catches, 59 yards, TD
Eddie Royal (DEN) – 2 catches, 67 yards
Josh Morgan (SF) – 5 catches, 114 yards, TD
Justin Forsett (SEA) – 15 carries, 136 yards, TD
Jordan Kent (SEA) – 4 catches, 50 yards
Kellen Davis (CHI) – 3 catches, 55 yards, TD
Ryan Fitzpatrick (CIN) – 11/14, 111 yards, TD
John Standeford (DET) – 4 catches, 85 yards
Calvin Johnson (DET) – 3 catches, 76 yards, TD
Jerome Simpson (CIN) – 5 catches, 114 yards
Ken Dorsey (CLE) – 9/11, 143 yards, TD
Brady Quinn (CLE) – 7/12, 124 yards, TD
Eli Manning (NYG) – 4/7, 52 yards, 2 TDs
Danny Ware (NYG) – 10 carries, 97 yards
Domenik Dixon (NYG) – 4 catches, 63 yards, 2 TDs
Syndric Steptoe (CLE) – 3 catches, 80 yards, TD

Third Tier WRs
We’ve profiled the Big Dog WRs and Second Tier WRs, now it’s time to examine the next wave of wideouts.  Again, these will be #2 & #3 wideouts for most teams.

Santonio Holmes/Hines Ward – Has Santonio Holmes officially surpassed Hines Ward as the top dog?  Juding by last year’s stats (942 yards, 8 TDs to 732, 7) and it appears that way.  I’m not quite ready to write Hines Ward off, but Holmes will likely be the first Steeler WR drafted.  They will probably be picked fairly close together and produce very similar numbers.

Marvin Harrison – Last year was a wasted year for the former Syracuse Orangeman.  Then he showed some bad judgement in the offseason.  Was last year the beginning of the end for #88?  I don’t think so.  I think he keeps himself in good enough shape, has one of the games best QBs slinging it to him, and has great knowledge of his system that he’s in for a nice rebound.

Calvin Johnson – Here’s a guy I’m high on.  He has the size and speed to be an elite wideout.  He was decent enough (756 yards, 4 TDs) as he was adjusting to the NFL.  Now that he has a year behind him, I can see his career taking off.

Dwayne Bowe – Bowe had a nice rookie campaign last year, nearly hauling in 1000 yards.  I see him leaving that mark behind as well as tacking on a couple of TDs to his decent five-spot he produced last year.

Roddy White – Roddy had a sneaky 1200 yards last year.  On name recognition alone I wouldn’t put him in this tier, but his numbers talk.  He was one of the top wideouts from Week 12 on (minus the dud he dropped in Week 15) scoring in 4 games and topping 140 yards twice.

Chris Chambers – I think San Diego was a good fit for CC.  With a full training camp and preseason with the Bolts, I expect him to do even better.   He’s one of the WRs I’m targeting for ’08.

Lee Evans – If someone can just convince Evans that December year round (17 of his 29 career TDs have come in December), he’ll make the leap into Big Dog status.  He almost always starts off slow out of the gate so he’s a guy you may want to hold off on using during the beginning weeks of the season.  However, targeting him for a midseason trade may not be a bad idea.  I think he can return to the 1000 yard territory with 8 TDs.  Let’s just hope they don’t all come in December.

Jerricho Cotchery – He’s produced back-to-back 82 reception seasons for the Jets.  He topped the 1100 yard mark.  He just needs to prove he can be more a factor in the endzone.  His measly 2 TDs conjure up thoughts of past Jet Wideouts like Keyshawn Johnson.

Donald Driver – Driver slid under the Third Tier wall like Indiana Jones in Raiders of the Lost Ark.  He failed to reach 1200 yards for the first time since 2003 last year, but his 1048 weren’t bad.  What was bad was the 2 TDs he scored.  Greg Jennings was clearly Brett’s go-to-guy last year in the red zone.  With a new QB though, the steady Driver could be leaned on heavier than the explosive Jennings.

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