With all the talk of fantasy football lately, I figured it would be relevant to discuss the value of the Falcons big names heading into this season. After undergoing a few renovations in the offseason, some of the stars in Atlanta will certainly be viable No. 1 starters in every league.
Roddy White has always been a top receiver, Turner's status is up in the air and Julio is a rising star on fantasy draft boards everywhere. There are multiple key players on this roster who will make or break fantasy lineups in 2012. Let's start with the guy who orchestrates the whole production on offense. Take a jump and check it out.
Note: All rankings/projections/etc. were taken from ESPN.
Matt Ryan, No. 11 QB overall: Coming off career highs in total yards and touchdowns, Matty Ice's fantasy value is only going to go up from here. His average draft position (ADP) is 73 overall right now, which means you can wait awhile to still great a solid starting QB for your team.
I strongly believe Ryan will surpass 30+ touchdowns this year. He should benefit from his new OC, which will lead to the best season he's had yet. Round 7 for this guy? I'll take it.
Michael Turner, No. 16 RB: As running back is a much thinner position these days, The Burner is being taken around pick No. 33 overall, which is still impressive for a 30-year-old ball carrier. Even though the Falcons seem to always express an interest in limiting Turner's workload, this year will be the first year they actually follow through with this notion.
He's not going to finish third in the league in rushing, and he may not hit double-digit touchdowns, but Turner will still be valuable in most leagues. He's a No. 2 or 3 RB, depending on your roster/league size.
Roddy White, No. 4 WR: No one is underselling Roddy. He's drafting around pick No. 19-20 and will be one of the first wide outs to go off the board. Even with Julio's freak of nature athleticism around, Roddy is still Ryan's go-to guy...for now.
We don't know how much the Falcons will be attacking opponents through the air this season, but you can bet on No. 84 still catching about 80-90 balls. Hit triple digits for the third straight season will be a challenge. However, he's still a top WR for any league.
Julio Jones, No. 11 WR: How fitting, No. 11 is ranked No. 11. I think I rave about Julio enough for all of you to know I believe he will really break out in 2012. After his stellar rookie year (aside from the hamstring issues) it's hard not to be excited about what he can do with a full offseason and one year under his belt.
Julio is more of a home run threat than Roddy, so he'll have more value in standard scoring leagues. He had eight touchdowns and averaged 17.8 yards per reception in 2011 in 13 games. How could you not want to draft him?
Tony Gonzalez, No. 8 TE: He's not slowing down at age 36, so you can still feel good about putting Tony G in your weekly lineup. Marcedes Lewis was utilized often in Koetter's offense in Jacksonville (that is, as often as he could be in that mess), and I would expect Gonzalez to continue to have an integral role here.
His ADP is 91 as of now. There are only a handful of elite fantasy TEs, so waiting till the later rounds for him wouldn't be a bad option.
These are the main individuals who you should keep an eye on going into fantasy drafts. HD and Quizz could have some value in deeper leagues, along with anyone else who steps up this season. I'm always up for a fantasy discussion/debate, so feel free to chime in with your take.