4 Months Atlanta Falcons
Falcons RB Jason Snelling rushed twice for 12 yards and caught a five-yard pass in Atlanta's NFC Championship Game loss to San Francisco.
The Falcons' third-string back throughout the season, Snelling finished 2012 with just 49 offensive touches. While Michael Turner may have played his last down with Atlanta, we're not expecting Snelling or Jacquizz Rodgers to replace him as the Falcons' feature back in 2013. Snelling will return at his affordable $850,000 base salary, but likely in a role similar to his in 2012.
Week 13 is nearly in the books and it is time for the fantasy playoffs to begin, for those of us lucky enough to have punched our ticket to the big dance. It's that time of the season when each position decision is magnified by the fact that should we lose this week's game, there is no chance for redemption next week.
It's time to win or go home, and with that in mind we take a look at some players who stood out this week and determine if they are names that belong in our playoff plans.
NFL teams will begin to determine just how long they will be playing their starters once a playoff spot is secured and the trickle down effect to fantasy owners will need to be monitored closely.
Dry those sweaty palms and join me as we take a look at ten names you need to know as the fantasy football postseason kicks off next week.
Josh Gordon, WR, CLEVELAND: Gordon emerged on the fantasy scene earlier in the season when in a three week span (weeks 5-7) he put up 240 yards receiving and scored four touchdowns while averaging 34 yards per reception. He continued to contribute to the Browns offense but fell from fantasy grace during weeks eight through twelve by averaging only 49 receiving yards a game and failing to reach the end zone. In week thirteen he burst back into fantasy relevance with six grabs for 116 yards and a touchdown while being targeted seven times. Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden will continue to have up and down performances and that will limit Gordon's upside as well.
Jason Snelling, RB, ATLANTA: Yes, that would be the same Jason Snelling who touched the ball only four times in the Falcons' victory over the Saints this week and is averaging 1.8 yards per rush in 2012 on nine total carries. He does have 24 receptions for 147 yards and a touchdown this season, but more importantly, possesses the skill set to be an every down back. And as soon as the Falcons wrap up the NFC South title and then home field advantage throughout the playoffs, which will happen sooner rather than later, Snelling will be the man to carry the rock as the Falcons rest Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers. Snelling is going to be very relevant in fantasy football when it matters most, during the playoffs.
Pierre Thomas, RB, NEW ORLEANS: Thomas had a very productive game against the Falcons as he finished with 84 yards rushing and another five yards receiving. He ran hard with a nice burst to the edge and looked like a very capable fantasy option moving forward. However, it...
9 Months Atlanta Falcons
Jason Snelling (leg) returned to Falcons practice Monday.
Finally. Snelling missed virtually all of August with a mysterious lower right leg injury and wasn't even comfortable enough to get some reps in the preseason finale. Expect a limited role behind Michael Turner and Jacquizz Rodgers in Week 1.
9 Months Atlanta Falcons
Jason Snelling (leg) remains sidelined.
Snelling hasn't appeared in any of the Falcons' three preseason games. All the team has said is that he has a lower right leg injury. Jacquizz Rodgers is gaining steam in this backfield while Snelling is slipping to the back burner.
9 Months Atlanta Falcons
Jason Snelling has missed the first two preseason games due to a lower right leg injury.
The Falcons have been tight-lipped regarding the exact nature of Snelling's injury, but he's missed roughly three full weeks now. It's troublesome as new offensive Dirk Koetter installs significant philosophy changes.
Well, the 4th of July is right around the corner, and do you know what that means to me? The end of summer is within reach. NFL training camps will be starting in less than a month, and the second I see a football in the air, summer is over.
As we prepare for our fantasy drafts, there are a few guys I'm targeting in my leagues this year. Obviously, I would like to get Calvin Johnson and Arian Foster, but these are players a little bit further down the trough that I'm looking to add to my fantasy roster in 2012.
Based on Average Draft Position (ADP) from MyFantasyLeague.com, you can get all five of these players in the sixth round or later, so these are guys I'm not only high on in terms of talent but they also have value on draft day.
Note: The ADP information is based on 12-team points-per-reception leagues,
Matt Ryan, QB, Atlanta -- I'm buying into the Ryan hype with all the talk of Atlanta running a no-huddle offense. I actually think Ryan is better when he's running a quick, no-huddle attack. In my opinion, that's when he thrives.
Ryan actually reminds me a little bit of Eli Manning a couple of years ago before he broke out and become an elite fantasy quarterback. If Ryan can progress like Eli did both fantasy owners and Falcons fans will be ecstatic.
I had Ryan as my starter three years ago and the guy sunk me. I lost a bunch of close games and his 11 points a week were one of the main reasons why. I've always said Ryan gets better the more he throws the ball, but Mike Smith is a conservative coach at heart. However, this Falcons team is built to pass and take advantage of the rules that currently restrict defensive backs similar to how the Green Bay Packers, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints and Detroit Lions attack opposing defenses.
I'm hoping with Michael Turner on the downside of his career, this is the year Smith worries less about being balanced and relies more on Ryan, Roddy White and Julio Jones to carry the offense. I even like Jacquizz Rodgers to take on a Darren Sproles-like role for the Falcons on passing down, which will also help add to Ryan's overall numbers.
New offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter took a lot of heat in Jacksonville over the last couple of seasons, but if you look at his resume going back to his college days, his teams have been known for throwing the football. This has especially been the case when Koetter is teamed with a quality quarterback, and I think we can all agree Ryan fits...
The Atlanta Falcons
Stadium: Georgia Dome
Schedule Strength : 1st (easiest schedule)
Postseason Weather issues: None
Offensive Line Ranking: 28th
Head Coach -- Mike Smith
Before moving to Atlanta, Smith was the defensive coordinator for the Jacksonville Jaguars and former linebackers coach for the Baltimore Ravens (becoming one of eight head coaches spawned from the Ray Lewis Coaching Tree). Like so many head coaches with a defensive background, Smith has proven he would prefer a run-to-set-up-the-pass offensive system. However, the offensive personnel of the Falcons indicates a greater use of the passing game. And although Smith will have input as to the offensive system, play calling and game planning will fall under the guidance of the offensive coordinator.
Offensive Coordinator -- Dirk Koetter
Hired this past offseason, Koetter is most recognized for being the former offensive coordinator of the Jacksonville Jaguars under another defensive-minded head coach, Jack Del Rio (also a member of the Ray Lewis Coaching Tree). While in Jacksonville, Koetter adhered to a run-first mentality adopted largely due to the talents of running back Maurice Jones-Drew, a lack of quarterback talent (David Garrard and Blaine Gabbert) coupled with Del Rio's preference to run the football. Koetter does have ties to a "vertical passing attack" installed during his time as the head coach at Arizona State. Not so coincidently, the Falcons possess the offensive weapons to stretch the field vertically, along with rostering the greatest tight end in league history. We should anticipate a continued balanced attack of pass and run mix, but multiple sources indicate Atlanta's downfield passing game will be opening up this season under Koetter.
QB -- Matt Ryan
Entering his fourth year in the league, much was expected from quarterback Matt Ryan in 2011. However, the young signal caller began the year at a snail's pace, posting only one multi-TD game in the first seven weeks (Week 2). After Atlanta's Week 8 Bye, Ryan ratcheted up his game, becoming the fourth-highest fantasy scoring quarterback between Weeks 9-16. On the plus side, Ryan has shown incredible durability, superior arm strength, solid decision making while possessing arguably the best wide receiver tandem in the NFL. A declining Michael Turner will also force the Falcons to produce more via the aerial attack. Upon review, the Falcons also have the league's most favorable regular season and postseason...