If you're not a member of the fantasy crowd, I would consider skipping this post, unless you like to hear me sing the praises of Falcons player. You probably do like that.
If you have fantasy drafts in the next couple of weeks, you probably want to balance out your desire to take Falcons with your desire not to be a doormat. Given that, I'm taking a flinty-eyed stare at this team and identifying the fantasy players you want to target and those you want to avoid.
Note: I'm not going to do IDP because I don't believe in IDP leagues. Sorry, chaps.
QB Matt Ryan: A high-octane passing offense, coupled with a season that saw him throw over 30 touchdown passes and for over 4,000 yards. You can probably get Ryan in the second (or in extreme cases, third) round in many leagues, and you should jump at the chance to do so. Heck, even the late first would be superb value for a guy who could somehow improve again.
RB Steven Jackson: Not too early. That's the key with Jackson, who should have a nice year for the Falcons but isn't quite the fantasy force he was earlier in his career. Look for him to put up over 1,000 yards, anywhere from 300-500 yards receiving and a combined 8-10 touchdowns, which makes him mighty useful but more so in PPR and yardage-heavy leagues. In scoring only, be careful not to target him too high.
WR Julio Jones: What can you say about Jones? He's in the prime of his career, he's one of the most explosive athletes in the NFL and he actually has looked better than ever in training camp and preseason. He'll top 1,000 yards easily and pick up double digit touchdowns if he stays healthy, and he should be one of the first three receivers off the board. Don't sleep on him.
WR Roddy White: Some might sleep on Roddy, however. There's so much buzz about Jones surpassing White that it's easy to forget what a consistent fantasy force White is, has been and will be. In scoring-only formats his numbers might take a hit, so you'll want to target him in the middle rounds. In PPR and yardage leagues he's virtually a lock for close to 1,000 yards and 80+ receptions, and that kind of production is worth targeting. Try to gauge the prevailing winds in your league, but you may be able to get him for a (relative) song if you can hold out.
TE Tony Gonzalez: This might be his last year, but if you think Tony's going for less than 70 receptions, 700 yards and 7+ touchdowns, you're nuts. With so few truly elite tight ends (and Gronkowski falling because of injuries), Tony's extremely worthwhile, and his age may cause him to slide a little bit.
Basically, you can't go wrong chasing Falcons starters. Just don't go too high on White and Jackson, particularly in scoring-only formats.
RB Jacquizz Rodgers: On talent alone, Rodgers should be selected. Unless you have S-Jax and need him as a handcuff, though, you'll want to look elsewhere. He's going to get fewer touches than a year ago, he may only score a couple of times and he's going to need an injury to change that. Let someone else take a late round flier on him while you grab at a Bernard Pierce.
WR Harry Douglas: As the fourth or maybe even fifth man in this passing game, he'll do fine for real-life purposes but will be no better than a WR5 for fantasy. Avoid, avoid, avoid.
TE Chase Coffman: Same as Douglas. He's likely only going to catch 20-something balls, and he may not even score. Maybe next year.
Falcons Defense: If you're the kind of guy or gal who just burns through a different defense every week based on matchups, you'll want to rotate the Falcons in. Otherwise, don't go out of your way to get them. I expect tangible improvement this season, but it's not likely to lead to a major increase in sacks or turnovers from a year ago, unless things break right in an insane sort of way.
Your fantasy Falcon thoughts?