Dynasty League Football


Summer Sleeper: Atlanta Falcons

sleeperseriesWith less than a month before all training camps have opened around the NFL, we begin our annual series focusing on a few sleepers from all 32 teams in the NFL.

These sleepers all have varying levels of “sleeperness,” but all merit a little more talking about here in the Premium Content section. Some of these players are deep dynasty sleepers who could merit a spot on your bench in a deep league, while others are players who may contribute a little faster than the deep prospects, but deserve more attention than they may be getting. By definition, a sleeper could mean something a little different to everyone, but we’re simply doing the best job we can to unearth one player from each team who fits the category in some way, shape or form.

We’ll never insult you with a comprehensive list of “sleepers” that includes such names as Lamar Miller, Chris Ivory or Danny Amendola. You’re all too good for that.

While many of these players will undoubtedly fizzle, there’s more value in looking more closely at these deeper prospects and players. We invite you to keep an open mind and either or re-assess your value on those who may be rostered in your league or consider adding a few of these deeper prospects we focus on this Summer who are free agents in your league – after all, some are destined to pan out, too.

Feel free to add your own comments about our choice for the designated sleeper, or nominate one of your own!

Determining a sleeper for the Atlanta Falcons isn’t an easy thing to do.  At all of the offensive skill positions, they seem to be set up quite well.  With set starters at every position, the Falcons are a team unlikely to have a “sleeper” who provides immediate dividends in the fantasy world.  They are, however, the type of offense that should be invested in if there is someone who has the potential to breakout in the future, given their high octane style.  That brings me to one of my favorite long-term stashes in fantasy.   

Levine Toilolo, TE ATL

toiloloWhile Atlanta currently has Tony Gonzalez as their starter, he will have to retire at some point in the near future.  Although he changed his mind this past offseason and decided to sign a new two year contract, the team still needs to be prepared to find his replacement.  Fortunately for Atlanta, Gonzalez decided to stay with the team relatively early in the off-season, so they were not forced to look for an immediate replacement.  With that said, it’s clear that a replacement needs to be in place to account for his eventual retirement – that’s where Levine Toilolo enters the picture.

Drafted in the fourth round of this year’s NFL Draft as the eighth tight end off of board, he appears to have the perfect opportunity to learn behind Gonzalez for a year or two before eventually taking over the lead role.  While this opportunity alone is enough for a little bit of sleeper potential for Toilolo, there are other reasons to like him for the future.

In 2010, Toilolo earned a role as the starting tight end for Stanford following a red-shirt freshman season, partially as a result of a broken bone in his foot from his high school career.  In his first game as starter he suffered a torn ACL and was lost for the season.  When he returned from his injury the following season, Coby Fleener had taken over the starting role and Zach Ertz was already receiving significant playing time as well.  While he still managed to put up solid statistics behind Fleener and Ertz, his 2010 injury was enough to allow others to get ahead of him on the field and he never earned another shot as the top tight end on the team.

So, why should you invest in a tight end who has had two major injuries and couldn’t beat out the competition as a tight end in college?  The first and most important reason is the opportunity that I mentioned earlier.  Being drafted in the fourth round clearly suggests the Falcons see Toilolo as an option to be the future replacement for Gonzalez.  Of all the mentors a young player could have in the NFL, Gonzalez has to be near the top.  Simply by working as part of the same group, Toilolo should pick up a wealth of knowledge that will enable him to improve as a player.  It’s not all about opportunity, though.  Toilolo has the type of physical size NFL scouts love.  At 6’8″, he was tallest tight end in the draft, with long arms and big hands.  He does a solid job of using his natural size to get above defenders.  Simply put, he is the type of physical threat that has the potential to be one of the most dominant players on the field if he is able to use the size to his advantage.  While his injury history is a bit of a concern, he’s been relatively healthy since suffering the torn ACL in 2010.  Since it’s commonly said that an ACL isn’t truly healed for two years, he’s just now reaching the point of full health.

Scouting reports say Toilolo doesn’t take full advantage of his size, but being behind Gonzalez will allow him to see the way that one of the greatest tight ends in the history of the NFL plays the game.  From all accounts, he is a high character player who was one of the hardest workers on his Stanford team, even winning a “TEAM” award given for “technique, effort, attitude and mental discipline.”  This combination of hard work and physical ability (along with an ideal mentor) should make Toilolo a future success in the NFL.

He is likely to not be heavily involved offensively in 2013, but he should get some playing time in red zone packages.  I wouldn’t be surprised to see him end the season with 4-5 touchdowns.  Make no mistake about it, Toilolo is a long-term prospect rather than an immediate contributor.  As a dynasty sleeper though, now is the time to invest in him. He has went undrafted in a vast majority of rookie drafts and should be available on many waiver wires.

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James Young
9 years ago

Wow, Stanford – TE production factory.

I was hoping someone would highlight Toilolo in more depth, because I am definitely intrigued by the possibility of a new ATL TE jumping into a situation where the incumbent caught 95 receptions last year. I’m thinking that somebodys got to take over at least half those numbers following the season, why not Toilolo. Its just that every other site only seems to think hes a good blocker and brush over the fact that ATL will go out and get another TE when the time comes – which is possible – but no belief in Toilolo.

Thank you for the insight!

Justin Kilmer
9 years ago

Thank you for this great article. I’m in a very big league where we must start two TE’s and he will be a great pick to take and put on my practice squad for a year or 2 and see what happens.

9 years ago

Thanks for the excellent article article and thorough research on Toilolo. He’s a favorite super sleeper developmental TE of mine for all of the reasons that you listed: hard working, humble, athletically gifted and in the perfect environment to learn from one of the best ever at the position. He’s also part of an organization that loves to build their talent from the ground up and have a dynamic offense. Love Toi’s potential. Thanks also for waiting on this article as I was able to grab him cheaply after our rookie draft for a PS stash (along with Sudfeld and Fauria). Guys with ability, opportunity and a strong work ethic tend to be successful, barring injury. I think he’s one of those guys.

9 years ago

Good article, but failed at instropection of any of Toil’s competition Chase Coffman – something the other sleeper articles all take diligence to cover.

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