With the NFL season right around the corner, teams are in the process of deciding who will be on the final roster, who will be starting and who will be relegated to the practice squad.
It's also time for fantasy teams to be put together. To make watching your team even more exciting, it's always a good idea to try to pick up some key players for your fantasy team.
This year there are several Falcons players who have a chance to make an impact fantasy-wise, but I've narrowed the list down to the top 5. Keep in mind that if the offense becomes the scoring machine it is capable of being, kicker Matt Bryant is worth a look. Right now, the defense is undraftable, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't keep an eye on it. You never know.
The top Falcon in terms of potential fantasy production, Turner started slow last year in terms of yardage before ripping off consecutive 150+ yard games prior to the injury in week 10 that would effectively end his season.
Despite the slow start and the injury he was able to score 10 touchdowns in only 9 full games.
Look for him to return to his 2008 form when he ran for 1,699 yards and scored 17 touchdowns. Add in the fact that coach Mike Smith has stated he would like to get Turner more involved in the passing game and his value gets even more of a bump.
He won't last past the middle of the 1st round, get him if you can.
White's yardage and receptions dropped slightly in 2009, but his touchdowns went up from 7 in 2008 to 11 last season. He has improved as a player each season since his rookie year and he should only continue to rise this year with Atlanta making their vertical passing game a priority this offseason. With his combination of speed and size, White should be the prime beneficiary of this.
He won't last past the 2nd round in most drafts, but will be well worth taking ahead of his ranking.
Gonzalez is possibly the most undervalued of this group. True, he failed to crack 900 yards receiving for the first time since 2002 and the Falcons do have other playmakers, but Gonzalez is absolutely determined to win a ring and will do all that he can to make that happen.
Matt Ryan had a habit of locking in on Gonzalez last year and throwing to him even when heavily covered, something defenses keyed in on. Ryan's continued progression as an NFL quarterback along with the team's commitment to stretch the field with its receivers should open up more space for the Hall of Fame tight end.
He'll still be around in the middle rounds after other tight ends such as Jason Witten, Antonio Gates and Dallas Clark have been gobbled up and should provide a healthy return on your investment.
After being way overvalued for a quarterback entering only his 2nd season in 2009, Ryan seems to be flying under the radar going into the 2010 season.
Coaches and teammates have raved about Ryan's work ethic and his desire to be the best. He loves running the no-huddle to keep the defense off-balance and with Roddy White continuing to improve, a healthy Michael Turner, a Hall of Fame tight end in Tony Gonzalez and the offense's eagerness to become more of a vertical passing threat, Ryan should improve both his yardage and touchdown totals from 2009 (2,916 and 22, respectively), when he missed two full games and attempted just 3 passes in another.
Ryan will hang around for a while in your draft (I got him with the 94th pick in mine) and should be a huge value for the position he is being taken in.
Douglas missed all of last year with a knee injury, but flashed some ability in his 2008 rookie season. He will not start opposite Roddy White with Michael Jenkins out with a shoulder injury, but will line up in the slot. With defenses needing to focus on Michael Turner in the running game and Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez in the passing game, Douglas, Louisville's all-time leading receiver, could find some opportunities to achieve fantasy relevance.
He's worth nothing more than your final pick at this point, but what's that selection for other than taking a chance on somebody no one else knows about anyway? If you don't take him in your draft, at least keep an eye on him once the season begins.