Fantasy Football: Breaking down the Atlanta Falcons

• Inside the Locker Room

With Jeff Duncan of the New Orleans Times-Picayune

Do you see Michael Turner getting the same 325-plus carry workload this season?
If things go as planned, the Falcons should be playing with a lot of leads this season. That’s where Turner becomes the workhorse and finishes games with his powerful runs. The addition of Julio Jones and Jacquizz Rodgers should only help Turner’s production because it will force defenses to cover more of the field.

With his average dropping below 10 yards per catch for the first time in his career last season, have we seen the end of Tony Gonzalez as an elite tight end?
At this stage of his career, Gonzalez is a notch below the game’s elite fantasy tight ends, but he remains a solid weekly points producer. He’s in terrific shape, can beat most linebackers in single coverage between the numbers and is highly trusted by Matt Ryan. Expect another solid year from him, but his reception totals might decline a little because there’s more competition for catches with the addition of wideout Julio Jones.

What type of numbers do you expect from Jones in his rookie season?
While Jones will start from Day 1, he’s no better than the No. 3 option right now behind Roddy White and Gonzalez. Still, he figures to see a lot of single coverage with teams concentrating their coverage on White, and that should lead to some big-play possibilities. White will still catch the bulk of Ryan’s passes, but Jones could easily score 8-10 touchdowns as a rookie. Much will depend on how quickly he masters the Falcons offense.

• Fantasy Playoff Run — Weeks 14-16: @CAR, JAC, @NO
So we’re all expecting the aerial game to improve for the Falcons, and the fantasy playoff schedule should cater to that. Matt Ryan threw a combined six TD passes and averaged 210 yards in the four meetings against the Panthers and Saints in 2010, and the Jags’ 28th-ranked pass defense is sandwiched in between. The porous run defenses of the Jags (22nd) and Panthers (23rd) are also inviting for Michael Turner and Co.

• Athlon Best Bets
Julio Jones, WR
Deep-Sleeper: Jacquizz Rodgers, RB
Overvalued: Tony Gonzalez, TE
Top Rookie: Julio Jones, WR
Bounce-Back: Harry Douglas, WR
Top IDP: Curtis Lofton, LB

• Try to Avoid
John Abraham, DL 
The addition of Ray Edwards as the other bookend on the Falcons’ line and Kroy Biermann in the rotation means, Abraham, the 12-year veteran, may not get enough snaps to warrant being a top IDP defensive lineman.

• Draft Class Fantasy Impact
The Falcons paid a steep price to move from No. 27 to No. 6 in the first round, but they believe they landed the missing piece to make a Super Bowl run. Jones should help ease the pressure on Roddy White and tight end Tony Gonzalez while adding even more fantasy value to Matt Ryan. Jones should be Atlanta’s No. 2 receiver this season and a solid WR3 or WR4 pick. Rodgers lacks ideal size (5'6") but will slide into a third-down role.

More Fantasy Football Cheat Sheets and Rankings:
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 280
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Top 240 w/ IDPs

011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Quarterbacks
011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Running Backs
2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Wide Receivers

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Tight Ends

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Kickers

2011 Fantasy Football Rankings: Defense/Special Teams

Exclude From Games: 
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