Falcons beat writer Vaughn McClure: No one figured Leonard Hankerson would emerge as a fantasy target based on his career numbers in four seasons with the Redskins. Hankerson has just six touchdowns in 31 career games (123 targets). Injuries have hampered his progress, but a healthy Hankerson has a legit chance to be a secondary threat behind Julio Jones. Hankerson already showed he could be a scoring target with a 2-yard touchdown reception from Matt Ryan in a preseason matchup against the Jets.
Sunday, August 9, 2015, 1:04pm
"We're in the middle of those discussions," Blank said. "We expect Julio to be a lifer for the Falcons. We're moving forward and have every reason to be positive and be enthusiastic about it."
Jones has one year left on his rookie contract and will earn $10.176 million this season. The two-time Pro Bowler said his agent, Jimmy Sexton, began contract talks with the Falcons near the start of training camp. Sexton had a starting point to work with after top receivers Dez Bryant and Demaryius Thomas both agreed to five-year, $70 million contracts that included more than $40 million guaranteed.
Jones is unlikely to match the league's top-paid receiver, Detroit's Calvin Johnson, who makes $16.2 million per year. But Blank was asked if $14-15 million per year was a reasonable figure for Jones.
Opposite Julio Jones, the Falcons coaches really like newcomer Leonard Hankerson based on his strong offseason. Hankerson played in Kyle Shanahan's system while in Washington and appears to be healthy coming off a gruesome left knee injury in 2013. But Hankerson's emergence doesn't necessarily move Roddy White aside. It simply means the veteran White has to have a strong training camp and show the left knee injury that has plagued him won't be a lingering issue.
It would be hard to imagine White accepting a reserve role after he established team records in both career receptions (765) and receiving yards (10,357) through 10 years with the franchise. Again, it will all depend on how White's body holds up throughout the season. He's been nagged by various ailments over the last two seasons, including hamstring and ankle problems to go with the knee. And White turns 34 in November.
This is the first that we've heard that Hankerson could potentially push White for a starting role. Frankly, we don't see a healthy White losing his spot. Last year, White missed a couple of games due to injury, but when he played, he was a solid WR2 in PPR formats (#17 PPR PPG). He’s 33, but as long as he stays healthy, he should be a very solid WR2/WR3.
Monday, July 13, 2015, 5:06pm
According to Vaughn McClure of ESPN.com, there have been no talks about an extension between Jones and the team.
The good news here is Jones already promised he wasn’t going to be “selifsh” and hold out, unlike another situation, the story points out. Jones is a late-first, early-second round selection in fantasy drafts this year.
The Atlanta Falcons have some intriguing options at wide receiver heading into 2015. This includes the obvious options of Julio Jones and Roddy White, but also Leonard Hankerson, Devin Hester and none other than rookie Justin Hardy. Hardy, for one, is a player who has massive upside and potential. Brian Jones of 247Sports is obviously a big believer in this, as he called Hardy the "secret weapon" for the Falcons.
"The answer is simple. It’s always good to have a plethora of weapons on offense, but Hardy is a weapon that no one will be talking about until the 2015 season gets rolling and makes plays. And the reason that Hardy will be a secret weapon is also simple. Hardy played at a smaller school (East Carolina), and he’s not the biggest receiver as he stands a shade over six-feet tall." Jones explained.
He continued by breaking down exactly what Hardy did during his career with the Pirates.
"But being overlooked is nothing new to Hardy. In fact, East Carolina did not offer him a scholarship his freshman year. He made his way on the team as a walk-on, but earned a scholarship the following season. From there, he became the NCAA’s career all-time reception leader, and was awarded the Burlsworth Trophy which is given to the most outstanding player who started his career as a walk-on." said Jones.
It's hard to argue with his point. Hardy has serious potential and the fact that he fell to the fourth-round in the 2015 NFL draft was a bit of a surprise to everyone. The Falcons nabbed the talented receiver and have to be happy about where they got him.
Hardy likely won't get drafted in typical leagues and he's way down our WR list. Jones and White are obviously the studs, but it's not out of the question Hardy could earn some playing by passing Hankerson and Hester on the depth chart. Right now he's just a name to keep in the back of your mind.
Dorial Green-Beckham spent weeks sidelined by a hamstring injury. That aside, his former college coach believes the Titans have landed the equivalent of a "nightmare matchup for any cornerback at any level."
"I was with the Colts with Jim Mora when he had Marvin Harrison and Reggie Wayne, I was with the Raiders when they had Jerry Rice, Tim Brown, Jerry Porter and some other guys on the Super Bowl team," University of Texas receivers coach Jay Norvell told the Tennessean.
Norvell spent last season coaching the red-shirted Green-Beckham in practice at Oklahoma, saying: "When you go through the history of the draft and look at the guys with size and speed and all that, he is just unique. Calvin Johnson is probably one of the closest comparisons physically because of his size."
"He's not a finished product, but most players aren't," Norvell said. "So he's going to have to learn the pro game and that's a completely different game from college. But he's got some natural gifts that will help him in that game, and in some ways, the NFL is probably a better game for him than college football, just because of the bump rules and (less) contact and all of that. So there are some advantages he has. ... That's why they picked him."
If Green-Beckham picks up things quickly and proves he’s not as raw as his detractors say — one offensive coordinator said he was “completely lost” at the whiteboard in a pre-draft interview — he could certainly start early in the season opposite Kendall Wright, since it seems that Justin Hunter is on the outs with the current coaching staff. If he sees starter’s snaps, he should be fantasy relevant as a rookie, though he'll have to prove he's ready for the mental side of the game. Long-term, he has a chance to flourish if both he and Marcus Mariota are the real deal.
A quick canvas of the league revealed 10 No. 1-caliber receivers: Calvin Johnson, Julio Jones, Alshon Jeffrey, A.J. Green, Dez Bryant, DeMaryius Thomas, Jordy Nelson, T.Y. Hilton, Odell Beckham and Antonio Brown.
Robinson, the Jaguars’ second-year receiver, is below that level, but on this team at this moment, he’s the best.
Robinson averaged 5.2 catches for 61 yards and 0.22 TD from Week 2 to Week 10, which extrapolates to an 84-974-3.6 over the course of a full 16-game season. He posted fringe WR2-type numbers before suffering a stress fracture in his foot. The Jacksonville receiving corps should feature Robinson, Marqise Lee and Allen Hurns. If QB Blake Bortles can progress, this could be a dangerous passing game, and Robinson would be the primary beneficiary.
Third-round draft pick Justin Hardy has made a good first impression on some of his fellow skill position players. On Tuesday, Matt Ryan praised the WR for his consistent improvements; today, Julio Jones commended Hardy for the way he’s responded to challenges thrown his way.
According to wide receiver Roddy White, the offense won’t be as reliant as throwing the ball as they were last season. The Falcons were third in the league with 39.5 attempts per game last season and White expects that number to drop significantly in 2015.
“We’re not going to be passing 35-40 times a game,” White said, via D. Orlando Ledbetter of the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
That may well be the plan, but the Falcons are going to have to be a lot more effective running the ball than they were last year if they are going to cut down on the size of the roles that White, Julio Jones and Matt Ryan play in the offense.
Falcons are hiring Kyle Shanahan as their OC, per league source. Shanahan and (Seattle DC) Dan Quinn planned to be package deal.
Friday, December 26, 2014, 6:53pm
Falcons WR Harry Douglas (foot, probable) took limited practice reps all week and is probable for Week 17. Douglas should play, but doesn’t have much fantasy appeal with both Julio Jones and Roddy White expected to play.
Friday, December 26, 2014, 6:53pm
Falcons WR Julio Jones (hip, questionable) returned to take limited reps Friday after missing practice earlier in the week and is questionable for Week 17. Given the return to practice, Jones figures to play through the hip injury in a crucial matchup with Carolina. The game is early on Sunday.
Per a source with knowledge of the situation, Jones’ availability for Sunday’s showdown with the Saints will hinge on the Sunday morning pre-game workout.
Jones wants to play and the Falcons sure need him. In his last two games played, Jones generated 448 receiving yards, with a whopping 259 yards coming in a Monday night loss to the Packers. Between the performances with Jones and the team’s struggles without him, the fourth-year wideout from Alabama is laying the foundation for a major payday at some point during the 2015 offseason, the story said. If Jones can't go, Harry Douglas would shape up to be a very good option again.
Friday, December 19, 2014, 6:02pm
Falcons WR Harry Douglas (foot, probable) took full practice reps on Friday after being limited earlier in the week and is probable for Week 16. If Julio Jones is back, Douglas won’t be startable, but he’s a WR2-type if Jones remains out. Stay tuned on Sunday morning.
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