The Atlanta Falcons Matt Ryan is one of the better, young quarterbacks in the NFL. Yet that success hasn’t translated well into the realm of fantasy football. Having fallen short of expectations last season, Ryan tossed up over 2,900 yards while passing for 22 touchdowns and surrendering 14 passes to the opposing defenses. Ryan finished as a low-end QB2 in deeper leagues last year but has the talent around him as well as in him to take a step forward in 2010/11. Not a huge step, but a solid step none-the-less.
Backups: Chris Redman, John Parker Wilson
When it comes to running back production, Atlanta has one of the best in the business. In his two seasons with the Falcons, Michael Turner has played in 27 games while visiting pay dirt an equal number of times. If not for a severe ankle injury last year, Turner would have undoubtedly scored even more. But last year is last year. What can you expect from Turner in 2010/11? Similar production with an increase in output if his ankle is as healthy as he claims it is. While injuries are always a concern, Turner seems to have cemented himself as a true-blue RB1 once again.
Jerious Norwood and Jason Snelling are both solid change-of-pace backs that hold more value to their NFL team rather than to their respective fantasy football owners. Snelling holds value as injury insurance to round out your roster if you are in need of a handcuff to Turner. He is nothing more than a RB5 in deeper leagues though when the stud back is healthy. Norwood on the other hand has very little fantasy football value. He should remain undrafted unless you play in very deep leagues.
Backups: Antone Smith
Roddy White continues to build himself up as one of the best young wide receivers in the NFL. Even better though is that his numbers also translate into the fantasy football world in which he ranked 7th overall in fantasy points last season. The scary thought is that he should had done even better last year but a contractual disagreement with the Falcons had him a bit behind to start the season. He has had over 3,600 receiving yards during the past three years and finally pushed himself into the double-digit touchdown reception mark with 11 last year. He comes into the 2010/11 season as a sure-fire WR1.
Backing White up is Mr. Consistency Michael Jenkins who has had at least 50 receptions in each of the last three years, peaking at 53. Falling in as a slot receiver is Harry Douglas who missed all of last season with a torn ACL. He is questionable to start training camp on time but is explosive when healthy. Jenkins has never had a 800 yard season, nor has he ever come close to the 7 touchdowns that he put up in 2006. Look at him as a very low-end option in deeper leagues. Douglas is someone that you could gamble a late round pick with in hopes of things turning around, but when all is said and done he will most likely find himself sitting in free agency.
Backups: Brian Finneran, Kerry Meier, Eric Weems
It is very possible that we are about to witness the swan song with Tony Gonzalez as he was contemplating even coming back for the 2010/11 season before finally committing to another year with the Falcons. Even though he is aging, Gonzalez found himself as a top-5 fantasy football tight end during his first season in Atlanta. While he will continue to remain a solid TE1 option, Gonzalez’s best days are definitely behind him. One positive note though is that he has only missed 2 games during his entire career since being drafted out of California.
Backups: Justin Peelle
Chris Ziza is a fantasy football fanatic who can be found at Working Man Sports. He hosts a daily Fantasy Football Breakdown Show that you can participate in now until the end of the 2010/11 Super Bowl, helping guide your way to fantasy football domination.