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Projecting the NFC South: Atlanta Falcons Receiver Roddy White is a Bargain

I appeared on RotoViz Radio: A Football Podcast to discuss the NFC South with Matthew Freedman.1 The fantastic apps here at RotoViz like the Best Ball ADP App and the Cheat Sheet Calculator are powered by the projections of RV contributors. I recently projected all 32 teams, and I’ll kick off the NFC South with the Atlanta Falcons.

Atlanta Falcons


With Kyle Shanahan bringing his offense with him, it’s going to be much easier for him to do what he wants to do based on personnel alone. With the offensive line still in a rebuild and the running backs starting off hobbled, it makes sense that this team will still need to pass a little more often than they want to when their defensive woes are taken into account. FD shared his thoughts on this offense here, and Kevin Cole made a case for the RV projections crew being too low on Matt Ryan here. I think Shanahan has the personnel in Atlanta to keep this offense somewhat balanced for the most part in spite of the defense, and this isn’t at all a bad thing for the skill position players.



That said, this isn’t the quarterback I’m targeting in this tier, as I have him projected to produce a little below his ADP. He still seems entirely too reliant on the success of Julio Jones to be able to out-produce his ADP. Sure, it could happen with a new scheme and play caller, but I’d rather look elsewhere.

Wide Receivers


While I’m not investing in Matt Ryan this year, I’m certainly on board with an early pick spent on Julio Jones anywhere in the first round, and Mike Braude built a case for Jones as the number one overall draft pick. The injury concerns are still there, and will frankly always be there at this point, but he should be targeted heavily in this offense. Based on Shanahan’s historical WR1 treatment and Jones’ talent, it’s not surprising he’s projected to receive 29 percent of the reTRGMS. If we could finally get Jones out of the split-end role, his ceiling would increase even more.

I know the WR2 lack of production is probably overstated in the Shanahan offense. Kevin Walter and Leonard Hankerson probably had something to do with that. Roddy White is coming off the board 9 spots after where I have him projected and is a great value this year. Dr. Budoff helped give me peace of mind that the knee isn’t really anything to worry about in the short term. I don’t see his intermediate-based routes changing much as he pulls down just over 20 percent of the reTRGMS for 7.5 YPT.

I can’t begin to say I know whether it will be the aforementioned Leonard Hankerson or Justin Hardy that will take the leftover WR3 targets. Hankerson has the upside and the scheme experience, but I think we will see more of Hardy with a few boom type weeks from Hankerson. His role is likely somewhat redundant to Jones. Either way you skin the cat, I’m sure that their playing time will be dictated more based on which receiver potentially misses time in front of them. Justin Bailey thinks Hankerson would likely be the first man up if Jones or White sustain injury, but I think based on the Shanahan scheme it will be more role dependent.

Tight Ends


Honestly, there’s nothing to see here. I could be wrong, but I don’t see enough leftover balls to go around to make Jacob Tamme anything more than a spot-start when you’re in a pinch maybe on a bye-week.

Running Backs


With both Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman nursing injuries, both seem to share the same disadvantage, and both were alternating starter time leading up to their respective injuries. Based on athletic ability, college production, and draft capital, give me the explosion freak to win the lion share of early down work. I have Coleman earning over 200 carries in his rookie season, and I think that’s maybe too conservative. Shanahan’s history calls for one guy to lead the rushing market share by a heavy margin, but I think there is some truth to the coaching staff still being a little hesitant to ride Coleman exclusively.

Freeman has to be the change of pace and passing down guy in my eyes. It’s not that Coleman can’t do it, it’s just that Freeman is probably better suited to take on the role while keeping two guys already injured healthy throughout the season. It’s not like I still don’t have Coleman catching passes. I’m on board with both running backs given their ADPs from a projection standpoint, but I’m letting someone else draft Freeman in traditional redraft leagues and targeting receivers in that range.

Be sure to play around with your own projections in the Projection Machine, and I’ll cover off on the rest of the NFC South shortly.

  1. Available soon. Just subscribe on iTunes already.  (back)

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