Fantasy Football Team Preview: Falcons
FanHouse is knocking out your fantasy football 2010 team previews one day at a time. With the new season on the horizon, we're covering all 32 potential champions.
Team that won't be satisfied with just another winning season. For the first time in franchise history, the Atlanta Falcons put together back-to-back winning seasons. But the 2009 season wasn't all sunshine and happy days for the Dirty Birds. Injuries took their toll on both sides of the ball when Harry Douglas was lost for the season in training camp and both Matt Ryan and Michael Turner missed time towards the end of the season. The teams top two picks in last year's draft, Peria Jerry and William Moore, missed a majority of the season also. The Falcons are healthy now and have added depth in the offseason to a potent roster and expectations are high.
Matt Ryan isn't one of those sexy breakout choices that falls under the radar, but I will guarantee -- barring injury -- that he'll outperform his 2009 numbers. He did miss two complete games and almost all of a third, so it's not going too far out on a limb for me to predict a surge. However, also know that the Falcons have opened up the playbook and even added some plays to increase the explosive nature of this offense for the third-year quarterback. Ryan, Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez should all enjoy a more vertical passing attack in 2010.
Michael Jenkins is the starting receiver opposite of Roddy White, not because he's the most talented ball catcher, but because he blocks extremely well. It also helped his cause when Harry Douglas went down with injury and the Falcons didn't have better options on the sideline. Jenkins only caught one touchdown pass last season and that was from backup quarterback Chris Redman, who Jenkins seemed to have a better relationship with. This season Jenkins has a healthy Douglas breathing down his neck and a new threat in rookie Kerry Meier. If he can't find a way to increase his yardage numbers, the Falcons may look somewhere else for the targets Jenkins enjoyed.
[Update: Jenkins will miss the next four to six week with a shoulder injury. He may miss just the preseason games or his timetable may bleed over into the regular season.]
The Depth Chart
QB1 - Matt Ryan
QB2 - Chris Redman
RB1 - Michael Turner
RB2 - Jason Snelling
RB3 - Jerious Norwood
WR1 - Roddy White
WR2 - Michael Jenkins
WR3 - Harry Douglas / Kerry Meier
WR4 - Kerry Meier / Brian Finneran
WR5 - Brian Finneran / Eric Weems
TE1 - Tony Gonzalez
K - Matt Bryant / Steve Hauschka
The Falcons defense last season was soft in the secondary and didn't get a lot of pressure on the quarterback. Atlanta allowed 4,043 passing yards -- 28th in the league -- only sacked opposing quarterbacks 28 times -- tied for 26th in the league. They brought in Dunta Robinson to help as a shut-down cornerback and are hoping that third-year defensive end Kroy Biermann can disrupt the passer opposite of John Abraham. The Falcons will be an improved defense in 2010, but they won't be a team that you'll want to draft. There will definitely be 12 team defenses that outproduce Atlanta this year.
• Roddy White and Michael Jenkins are entrenched in their roles and the top two receivers on the team. The real battle seems to be for the slot receiver between Harry Douglas, Kerry Meier, Eric Weems and Brian Finneran
• Michael Turner slimmed down this offseason -- well sort of. He's still tipping the scales at 244, but Turner dropped a butt-load (I couldn't resist) of body fat staying in Flowery Branch and working with the Falcons' athletic performance group. His new-found muscle should help him avoid injury and absolutely blast through linebackers in 2010.
• The Jason Snelling versus Jerious Norwood battle for RB2 may have been won already because Norwood is injured again. Snelling had more touches last year than Norwood and will likely again in 2010, even if Norwood were healthy.