As part of the premium content package, we’re unveiling dynasty capsules for every team in the NFL all Spring and Summer. This year, we also have a follow-up to every team capsule, with more detail on one of our favorite portions – the dynasty sleeper. We continue our alphabetical journey through the NFL with the Atlanta Falcons.
Ryan is fresh off his best campaign in both reality and fantasy as 2011 saw him throw for 4,177 yards, 29 touchdowns and 12 interceptions. In his four years in Atlanta, he’s now posted 14,238 passing yards, 95 touchdowns and just 46 interceptions in 62 career games. His tenure in Atlanta hasn’t made people forget completely about Michael Vick, but there’s no doubt that Ryan is a really good quarterback.
So, what’s the problem?
The trouble with Ryan may just be accepting the fact that he’s a really good quarterback. Many people with Ryan as their quarterback on their dynasty teams are simply asking too much of him and want him to be an elite fantasy quarterback. There’s no doubt that Ryan is a bona fide QB1, but he hasn’t shown the ability to post numbers anywhere close to the past great seasons by the likes of Aaron Rodgers, Drew Brees or Tom Brady.
On the plus side, Ryan has arguably the best receiver tandem in the league with Roddy White and Julio Jones. While Tony Gonzalez and Michael Turner are all in the twilight of their careers and will be replaced soon, the Falcons aren’t in a position where they’ll need to overhaul their team any time soon. After replacing Gonzalez and Turner, they’ll turn their attention to finding the heir apparent to White at receiver – with a balanced team around him, Ryan should have the weapons around him to be really good for a long, long time.
Is that good enough for you is the real question that needs to be asked if you own him in your dynasty league.
It seems the highlight of Redman’s career is going to be that stretch of games during the back half of the 2007 season where he became a dynasty dynamo during the fantasy playoffs, including a four touchdown performance in week seventeen in a 44-41 Falcons win. Much like Matt Flynn last year, that game likely won a few teams a title in leagues playing all the way into the final week of the season.
Unfortunately for Redman, he’ll be 35 when the season starts and is simply a very good veteran backup for Ryan – you can do better on your team as he really isn’t even worth a handcuff for Ryan owners since that roster spot could be used for a young, developmental player instead.
John Parker Wilson
Wilson has flashed some talent at times (Minnesota actually tried to snag him off the Falcons practice squad), but he’s buried behind Ryan and Redman at the moment. He could push Redman at some point, but it’s hard to look at Wilson and say he’s destined to play significant games in the league.
On the surface, Turner’s numbers actually look pretty good. After all, he ran for 1,340 yards and scored 11 touchdowns last season on a healthy 4.5 yards per carry. Sadly, the number don’t tell the story on Turner. After being asked to carry the ball almost 1,200 times over the past four seasons for the Falcons, he’s lost a ton of explosiveness and started to look rather ordinary last season.
The question on what to do with Turner sits squarely with contending teams. If you’re a non-contender, you should have dealt him long ago. If you didn’t, you’ve likely missed your window of opportunity at getting decent value. If you are a contender, you have to decide just how close you are to that elusive title. If you believe this is your year, there’s no doubt Turner can be a valuable asset. If you’re not squarely in contention, he’s going to lose value here very quickly over the next year. In fact, the Falcons are already talking about reducing his workload.
Turner had a very quick run as one of fantasy football’s elite players, but that run is most certainly in the rear view mirror.
The small, but electric Rodgers will be featured as our sleeper for the Falcons, so stay tuned for our extended feature in our premium content later this week.
Snelling re-signing with Atlanta was a bit of a buzzkill for his dynasty value. After all, he’s relegated to mostly special teams work and some passing down action with Turner in the fold. Rodgers will very likely push him for snaps on third downs this season, so it’s tough to see Snelling being a fantasy factor again unless a bunch of injuries occur. In fact, it’s possible you see him more as a fullback than a tailback at this point.
Smith has shown well in practices, but believe it or not, he’ll be 27 by the time the season rolls around. There are far better running back prospects to throw on your roster, even in very deep dynasty leagues.
If you ever wondered where this whole idea of the “third year breakout” with wide receivers came from, look no further than the career of one Roddy White. After his first two seasons yielded just 59 catches, 952 yards and three touchdowns, many labeled him a disappointment.
Enter Lee Corso saying, “Not so fast, my friend.”
White’s last five years have been amazing, as he’s averaged 94 catches, 1,284 yards and 8 scores per season – that’s the very definition of a WR1, especially in a PPR league. When you consider he was plagued with a case of the dropsies last season and still finished with 100 catches, that’s pretty incredible. Unfortunately, there are two problems for White in relation to his dynasty value.
First (and most importantly), he’s now 30 years old. While not ancient by any stretch of the imagination, it’s still a source of concern. While he’ll still likely have a few great seasons left in him, there’s little doubt the bulk of his career production has already taken place. Receivers have a longer shelf life than running backs, but as they say, Father Time is still undefeated.
Second, you can make the case he’s becoming the second option in the passing game behind Julio Jones. While there certainly seems to be enough balls to go around to make both of these receivers very viable, it’s easy to see Jones passes the eye test as an incredible talent. The days of White being totally force-fed the ball are likely dwindling. Having Jones around can help free him up at times, but Atlanta is going to start using Jones more and more as the years go on.
All that being said, White is a tremendous player to have on your dynasty league roster, especially if you’re a contending team. He’s one of the most consistent receivers in the league and players like him don’t exactly grow on trees.
It’s safe to say Jones was a bit of an underachiever at Alabama after seeing what he could produce on an NFL field as a rookie. After all, posting 54 catches for 959 yards and eight scores (on an average of just under 18 yards per catch) in just 13 games is pretty impressive for a rookie season. He was also third in scoring for wide receivers from week 13 through 16 last season, giving his owners a taste of what could be on the horizon.
Going into 2012, Jones is one of the most coveted receivers in all dynasty leagues. As a 23 year old with an unlimited amount of talent and a solid quarterback to grow with, it’s easy to see just why. While AJ Green gets much of the press in regards to the rookie class last year, it’s not hard to see Jones matching him statistically for his career.
Jones is a top 10 receiver in dynasty leagues already, with the potential to move even higher with a solid 2012.
It happens every year with Douglas. Much like Devery Henderson in New Orleans, he’ll post a monster game, then disappear for a long stretch of time. He’s the fourth option at best in the passing game for Atlanta and just hasn’t been consistent enough to earn a roster spot in most dynasty leagues.
If 2012 is anything like the past, Douglas will play well in the preseason, then have a handful of decent games during the year – that’s just not worth holding on to.
We recently featured Cone on a deep sleeper piece. While he’s still very raw, there’s a chance for him to develop over the next couple of years. While that may not merit an immediate addition off your waiver wire, it’s enough for you to monitor his progress.
If you want to go really deep into the bag of sleepers, take a look at James Rodgers. It’s a great story for the Falcons to bring him in to camp (he’s the brother of Jacquizz Rodgers), but he also has some ability. While he’s undersized like his brother, he was still extremely productive at Oregon State. He’s likely battling for a spot on special teams, but he could surprise with a nice training camp. We wouldn’t be totally shocked to see him make the team.
There are players out there who deserve to win a Super Bowl (or even just win a playoff game) and Gonzalez sits on top of that list. His 15-year Hall of Fame career has yielded 1,149 catches, 13,338 yards and 95 touchdowns. Numbers like that from a tight end are simply obscene.
Gonzalez has been known for keeping himself in tremendous physical condition and his 2011 season was solid as he posted 80 catches, 875 yards and seven scores. Unfortunately, this is likely the last season for Gonzalez as he’s publicly stated his intention to retire at the end of the year.
If you’re a contending team, you just have to enjoy the last season of his illustrious career. If you’re not, you need to move him now, even if you get peanuts in return.
After all, peanuts are better than nothing.
We’ll continue our team-by-team capsules with the Baltimore Ravens up next.
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