Atlanta Falcons 2012 Fantasy Preview
The Atlanta Falcons are built to kill on offense. They have a quarterback in Matt Ryan that improves every season, a slew of offensive weapons in the passing game, and three different running backs that can hurt the opposition in different ways.
Atlanta continues to mold their once run-heavy offense into a pass-heavy, high-octane machine, and outside of their playoff debacle last year, it’s worked out pretty well. I think it only gets better in 2012, and their top players should show that to fantasy owners in a big way.
Here’s a look at all the guys who should be fantasy relevant in 2012, and some that may not:
QB Matt Ryan
Ryan has done nothing but improved every year he’s been in the league. He can’t get it done in the post-season, but fantasy owners don’t care about that. I think he can at least match his 4,100+ yards and 29 touchdowns from last year, which would once again make him a stable QB1.
RB Michael Turner
Turner may not be so much “the burner” these days, but he’s not done just yet. I believe the rumors that his carries will go down and his pretty much non-existent role in the passing game won’t do him any favors, either. Regardless, the guy hasn’t scored less than 10 touchdowns in over four years, so he’s still going to be a sturdy RB2.
RB Jacquizz Rodgers
Rodgers will seen an increased role in 2012. I have no idea how many more touches he’ll actually get, but you can bet he’ll be active as a receiver out of the back-field. Ultimately, you can really only take a flier on him later in drafts, but he does have the potential to bring Flex value to your roster.
RB Jason Snelling
Snelling should see some more early work and could vulture some goal-line totes, but he’s not the backup running back to own in Atlanta. He’ll have nice value if Turner goes down, but otherwise is a shot in the dark late in drafts.
WR Roddy White
White’s role will be lessened in 2012. I get it. But we’re talking about a guy who topped 100+ receptions for the second year in a row in 2011. Even if his catches drop down to 80-85, he should still put up 1,100 receiving yards and 7-10 scores. Depending on which way the scale tips, he could still give you borderline WR1 value. Don’t buy into the hype. White is still a very valuable fantasy receiver.
WR Julio Jones
Jones is a beast that cannot be tamed. Unless, of course, he gets hurt. But other than a freak injury, nothing is going to keep this guy from becoming one of the best receivers in the game. I fully expect WR1 production with an increased role this year, and have no shame in cementing him as my #4 wide receiver on draft boards.
WR Harry Douglas
Atlanta says they’ll use Douglas more, but how much more remains to be seen. He might see mild progression, but I’m not expecting the world out of him. He’s no higher than a WR4.
WR Kerry Meier
Meier isn’t about to kill it in the fantasy realm, but he’s more talented than given credit for and currently sits as the team’s #4 option. He won’t have fantasy value unless someone gets hurt, but I predict he’ll get his first NFL catch in 2012.
TE Tony Gonzalez
Gonzalez says 2012 is his last season, and I am inclined to believe him. Last year would have been a great way for him to go out, statistically, anyways, but I still think he can do it again. His main attributes are still his reliable hands, route-running, and presence in the red-zone. That should keep him as a borderline TE1. You can get him pretty late in drafts, too.
K Matt Bryant
Bryant doesn’t have hair. That’s my only real knock on him. Not that I hate bald guys, but I need something to complain about. The guy is automatic, but has only attempted five 50+ yarders in the last three years. Regardless, he rarely misses anything and operates in a great offense. He’s a top-15 fantasy kicker, without a doubt.
Atlanta traded for Asante Samuel and kept Brent Grimes, so you would expect their secondary to rival the best in the league. Their run defense was tight at times last year, too, so they could easily improve into being one of the tougher defenses in 2012. There are sexier teams out there, but the Falcons get the job done. They’re not the worst DEF1 out there.
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Kevin Roberts owns and operates NFL Soup and heads the fantasy football division of the site. Roberts also finished 2nd in the Wide Receiver position in Fantasy Pros expert fantasy football rankings in 2010 and 3rd in the Quarterback position in 2011. In addition to running the fantasy football section of the site, Roberts contributes to NFL Soup's NFL Draft coverage and breaking news reporting. Follow Kevin on Twitter @NFLSoupKevin