Dynasty Capsule: Atlanta Falcons

Karl Safchick

As part of the premium content package, we’re again unveiling dynasty capsules for every team in the NFL leading up to free agency and the NFL Draft. This year, we’re again going to do a follow-up on all the teams after all the free agency and NFL Draft movement to assess the impact of any players teams have gained or lost. Since these capsules are always done as a simple snapshot in time, we figured that was the best way to tackle the off-season and provide ultimate value for our subscribers. All in all, we’ll have close to 500 player profiles found in these capsules over the off-season.


Matt Ryan

ryanSimply put, the 2013 season was rough on Ryan. Not only did his offensive line resemble the residents of the Island of Misfit Toys, but his two best wide receivers missed significant time. Despite the Atlanta Falcons offensive misfortunes last year, Ryan threw for 4,515 yards, 26 touchdowns and 17 interceptions. In most fantasy formats, Ryan finished the year as a top ten quarterback. However, somewhere during his suitable season, the fantasy community lost faith. Many do not consider him adequate enough to guide Santa’s sleigh, but I love Ryan at current value. Those who follow my work know I will point out great “buy-lows,” and the Falcons are filled with them with none more apparent than Ryan. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if Falcons GM Thomas Dimitroff selected one of the two great offensive lineman with the sixth pick in the NFL Draft. The Falcons gave Ryan a contract worth up to $103 million last year, so they will take every precaution to protect him. He is currently being drafted in the seventh or eighth round in dynasty startups. I would be comfortable taking Ryan a round early, cementing him as my dynasty signal caller for the next five years.

Dominique Davis

There’s a bit of intrigue with Davis, who actually played at Boston College when Matt Ryan did before transferring to East Carolina to finish his collegiate career. He’s much more of a pocket passer than a rusher and is still extremely raw as a prospect, but he’s a player to keep an eye on this preseason. At this point, he shouldn’t be on rosters as he’s certainly no threat to Ryan. However, a strong off-season could put him on the dynasty league deep stash radar.

Running Backs

Steven Jackson

Last year was a hot mess for Jackson as he posted just 543 yards on 157 carries, good for just 3.5 yards per carry. His production snapped a streak of four years with at least 15 games played (he only suited up for 12), eight years with at least 1,000 rushing yards and eight years with at least 230 carries or more. What’s even more disturbing is it looked like Jackson had lost ability to make people miss and simply looked like an aging volume runner. In fact, there were rumblings during the season that Jackson would get cut this off-season. While that looks increasingly unlikely, it’s clear Jackson’s best days seem to be behind him.

On the positive front, it’s easy to look at last season and just give Jackson a pass. After all, the offensive line of the Falcons was terrible, defenses didn’t have to account for Roddy White or Julio Jones for much of the season and Jackson himself had a hamstring problem that lingered during the entire season. In a best case scenario, we’ll see Jackson re-ermege as a viable RB2 option. The worst case scenario? Owners don’t even want to think about that.

Jacquizz Rodgers

Once considered a nice running back sleeper, Rodgers has been largely a disappointment over his first three seasons. Over that span, he’s never produced more than 362 yards in any given year, nor has he ever eclipsed 3.9 yards per carry. Last year, he averaged a career-low 3.4 yards per tote and looked rather ineffective as a runner. On the plus side, he does a good job as a receiver out of the backfield and caught more than 50 passes for the second straight year.

Rodgers is best served as a third down or change of pace back and the Falcons know it. He should be rostered as injury insurance for Jackson, but you have to wonder if the Falcons will be active in free agency or the NFL Draft, especially with Jason Snelling opting to retire this off-season.

Antone Smith

If there’s a sleeper on the Falcons roster at running back, it’s Smith. After a good preseason, Smith made the team and even produced 145 rushing yards and two scores on just five carries last year. If you take his average yards per carry and give him the carries that Jackson and Rodgers had combined, he would have rushed for 2,450 yards. Sure, that’s a little unrealistic given the sample size, but he has shown some explosive ability on a team that had no life at the position. If the Falcons fail to add another back during free agency or the draft, keep Smith on your radar.

Wide Receivers

Julio Jones

The “elite” conversation is normally a discussion reserved for those who play the most important position in sports, quarterback. Though, in dynasty fantasy formats, the wide receiver is often the most valuable player on any team. Jones is truly an elite option who has shown the separation ability, speed and catch radius to rival many Hall of Fame players.  He exploded on to the scene with 79 catches for 1,198 yards and ten touchdowns in 2012 as he cemented himself as a bona fide first round prospect in virtually any dynasty league. The sky was the limit for Jones.

Then came 2013.

After posting 41 catches for 580 yards and two touchdowns at the beginning of a red hot season, Jones broke his foot in week five and was lost for the year. At this point, there is no question about his ability, his team, his quarterback or anything else related to playing the game at an elite level. The only question anyone has is just how much of a long-term concern that foot injury is. After all, he broke the same foot while playing at Alabama. His ADP hasn’t been affected much as he’s currently being taken as the WR4 (after Josh Gordon, Calvin Johnson and Dez Bryant) at 7.7 overall. If his foot can hold up, that’s actually going to be a bargain.

Roddy White

Much like Jackson, White had some streaks of his own broken last year as he failed to hit 1,000 yards or have 83 catches or more for the first time in seven seasons. Also much like Jackson, he battled injuries for much of the season and was a shell of himself for much of the year. White wants to play three or four more seasons and the Falcons are currently working diligently in an effort to extend his contract at a cap friendly number.

White could be a nice off-season target for dynasty teams who are contending for a title this season. After all, he posted 43 catches, 502 yards and two scores over the last five games of the year as he started rounding back into form. If you extrapolate those numbers over the span of an entire season and you have the Roddy of old. In reality, he only has a few years left, but they could be productive seasons with defenses likely using their top corner to cover the more explosive Julio Jones.

Harry Douglas

After four years of disappointing numbers, Douglas finally took advantage of the enormous opportunity given to him with the injuries to Jones and White and produced 85 catches for 1,067 yards and two scores, becoming a viable option in PPR leagues. Now, it’s back to reality for Douglas. After producing about half of his five year career numbers last season, Douglas will go back to being the third option at best in the passing attack. While his story was a great one last year, it’s going to likely be short burn for the former Louisville star. After going back to the slot and becoming an afterthought in the passing attack next year, it wouldn’t be surprising to see another 40-catch, 400 yard season from Douglas. When you add in the fact he rarely scores touchdowns, there isn’t anything here to target aggressively this off-season. In fact, he’s a candidate to be a roster clogger this season.

Darius Johnson

Johnson was an undrafted free agent out of SMU, but found his way on to the field for Atlanta last year and posted a 22/210/1 line as a rookie. Unfortunately, with Jones and White back to full strength, it’s going to be really hard for Johnson to find his way on to the field. He’s a player to monitor as he attempts to make the team, but there are better sleepers out there.

Drew Davis

Davis is another young receiver who found his way on to the field last season. Much like Johnson, he’s going to find it difficult to even make the team, no less make a fantasy impact. Davis, Johnson, Kevin Cone and Dominique Croom will all likely battle some rookies or free agent additions in training camp in a battle to make the final roster or practice squad.

Tight Ends

Levine Toilolo

Toilolo is a monster of a player as he stands at 6’8″ and weighs 265 pounds. With the departure of Hall of Famer Tony Gonzalez now pretty much official, Toilolo sits atop the depth chart in Atlanta. He was good as a rookie, but didn’t quite live up to the expectations some had as he posted an 11/55/2 line on the season. With Gonzalez out of the picture, Toilolo’s value is in total flux. The Falcons could easily add someone like Jermichael Finley or Brandon Pettigrew this week or draft a player like Austin Sefarian-Jenkins in May. Toilolo’s owners are nervous right now because they could have a bona fide TE1 on their hands or just another flameout of a prospect. Nobody knows for sure, but the actions of Atlanta’s front office over the next few months will speak volumes about their feelings toward Toilolo.