Falcons Fantasy News

Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 6:19pm

Atlanta Journal-Constitution - [Full Article]

Running back Devonta Freeman, a fourth-round draft pick out of Florida State, was back at practice after missing last week to attend a mandatory rookie symposium in California. Mike Smith on Freeman: “He’s doing a nice job. He’s got great vision, he’s got great stop-and-start ability. The big thing that he needs to work on is the ability to work in pass protection because we ask our backs to do a lot.”

Fantasy Impact:
Pass protection is key for rookie running backs. The faster Freeman can catch on the better off he'll be. We're expecting Freeman to learn behind Steven Jackson for at least one season.

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Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 6:17pm

Atlanta Falcons - [Full Article]

TE Mickey Shuler, a member of the practice squad last season, ran some plays with the first-team offense as the Falcons worked on their running game. With the retirement of Tony Gonzalez, a prolific pass-catcher, the Falcons will more often line up their tight ends tight to the formation as blockers. “We have got to create a position that plays to their strengths and they are different than Tony Gonzalez,” Smith said. “Levine Toilolo is more of a ‘Y’ (inline) tight end that has some ability to play some ‘F’ (spread). Mickey is a tough guy who was on our practice squad last year and he’s getting an opportunity to play. We added Bear Pascoe he’s got a lot of starts underneath his belt.”

Fantasy Impact:
Don't expect Toilolo (or any other Falcons TE) to step into the pass-catching role vacated by Tony Gonzalez.

Julio Jones (foot) cutting at practice

Wednesday, June 4, 2014, 2:18pm

Vaughn McClure, Twitter - [Full Article]

Falcons WR Julio Jones did some cutting on the field today. Great sign.

Fantasy Impact:
Jones was on pace for 131-1856-6.4 prior to his foot injury in Week 5. He has the potential to be the most productive receiver in the league, but the foot injury is a bit concerning, especially since it’s a broken bone in the same location as his pre-Draft injury. If he plays a full season, he’ll very likely finish in the top 5.

Falcons 'cautiously optimistic' about Julio Jones

Monday, June 2, 2014, 10:56am

ESPN - [Full Article]

Falcons wide receivers coach Terry Robiskie is cautiously optimistic about Julio Jones' return, although not seeing the receiver do any type of on-field work at this point would appear to be a cause for concern.

"The day I can see him come out and just run and practice at full speed, practice all day and get up the next day and practice again, certainly then I'm going to feel he's back,'' Robiskie said. "I think every day, we'll be out there with him with caution. We'll be watching him a little bit kind of standing on pins and needles. I think if he jumps in the air to catch the ball, if he jumps on top of some [defensive back] and some DB is under him, you're nervous.

"But again, I don't know if it's necessarily that I'm nervous that Julio is jumping in the air catching the ball. You're just nervous when one of your guys is jumping up to catch the ball. ... You're nervous about two guys and their feet getting tangled up. You're nervous about their knees getting [knocked].''

Fantasy Impact:
Jones was on pace for 131-1856-6.4 prior to his foot injury in Week 5. He has the potential to be the most productive receiver in the league, but the foot injury is a bit concerning, especially since it’s a broken bone in the same location as his pre-Draft injury. If he plays a full season, he’ll very likely finish in the top 5.

Devonta Freeman turning heads at Falcons minicamp

Monday, May 19, 2014, 11:15am

Atlanta Journal-Constitution - [Full Article]

Falcons beat writer D. Orlando Ledbetter: Running back Devonta Freeman is a keeper. He caught the ball with his hands and showed a great burst of speed. “Devonta is a fast and quick guy,” HC Mike Smith said. “He has very good vision and he’s able to stick his foot in the ground and transition into a different direction.”

Fantasy Impact:
Freeman will compete with Jaquizz Rodgers for snaps behind Steven Jackson, and could graduate to a larger role if Jackson doesn't bounce back from a supbar season in 2013.

Julio Jones won't participate in OTAs/minicamp

Sunday, May 18, 2014, 10:27pm

Atlanta Journal-Constitution - [Full Article]

Falcons HC Mike Smith said Juio Jones (foot) wouldn't be “doing a whole lot” in the offseason conditioning program or the full-team minicamp scheduled to begin later this month.

“Our focus is strictly on getting [Jones] ready to go for training camp” in late July, Smith said.

Jones suffered an injury to his left foot in Week 5 last season and missed the rest of the season after undergoing surgery. Jones also had surgery in March 2011 to insert a screw in the foot to repair a stress fracture.

Fantasy Impact:
Jones finished #17 among WRs as a rookie and #9 as a sophomore before injuring his foot in his third season. Through five games, he was on pace for 131 catches for 1,856 yards. He has top 5 potential if he's fully healthy.

Thursday, May 15, 2014, 1:32pm

ESPN - [Full Article]

The Bills traded up to select Sammy Watkins fourth overall last week, but Football Outsiders assistant editor Scott Kacsmar believes Watkins' success at the college level may not translate to the NFL.

Here's what Kacsmar writes on Watkins:

"To spend a top-five pick (and then some) on a wide receiver, he'd better be a special player. Watkins is not the type of athletic freak like Calvin Johnson capable of catching a jump ball in triple coverage, but who is? Watkins is not as polished with his route running or sure-handedness as Torry Holt or Larry Fitzgerald. Watkins is not an all-around threat like A.J. Green and Julio Jones. Those are most of the receivers who were worth a top pick."

Watkins gained 71.3 percent of his receiving yards after the catch at Clemson, numbers that Kascmar says compare to receivers like Tavon Austin or Percy Harvin -- talented in the short game and after the catch, but not necessarily big-play threats.

Fantasy Impact:
Watkins is a talented receiver, but he's no Calvin Johnson. He's joining a run-heavy offense with E.J. Manuel as his quarterback, so we're not terribly bullish on his potential production in 2014. He's currently going in the 6th round, which is a high price to pay for an unproven receiver in a run-first offense.

Falcons won't utilize a 'move' TE in 2014

Monday, May 12, 2014, 3:12pm

The Atlanta Journal Constitution - [Full Article]

Falcons general manager Thomas Dimitroff said there weren’t many "move" tight ends in the draft, and the Falcons will use more of a traditional player at the position. The transition fits with the team’s desire to be more physical on the line of scrimmage.

“There’ll be a change in the type of tight end we’ll have on our roster,” Falcons coach Mike Smith said. “We’ll have a ‘Y’ tight end, where he’ll be an inline player (lined up tight to the formation). They won’t be moving around nearly as much as what we call a ‘F.’ Tony Gonzalez was more of a ‘F’ tight end than a ‘Y’ tight end.”

Levine Toilolo, one of the Falcons’ third-round draft picks in 2013, is the presumed starter at tight end for 2014. He played in all 16 games as a rookie (198 snaps) and had 11 catches for 55 yards and two touchdowns.

Fantasy Impact:
Toilolo is an interesting sleeper at TE, though anyone expecting him to step into Gonzo's role will be disappointed. Harry Douglas figures to be used heavily in the slot, but he's not going to get the same workload that he saw last season with Julio Jones out and Roddy White gimpy.

Julio Jones to be limited in early workouts

Tuesday, April 22, 2014, 4:06pm

ESPN - [Full Article]

Atlanta Falcons coach Mike Smith said Julio Jones' participation in offseason workouts will be limited as the team continues to monitor the wide receiver's status coming off foot surgery.

"Julio is participating with our athletic performance department,'' Smith said Tuesday. "He will be able to get out on the field and do some walkthrough stuff with us when we start going. Our focus on Julio is one thing, and that's having him prepared for our opener. ... He's progressing well. We're not going to do anything to hinder his timeframe in terms of getting back to work with us."

Jones injured his foot in Week 5 of last season and missed the remainder of the 2013 campaign. Smith previously said Jones was ahead of schedule in his recovery, but the coach never put a timetable on when Jones would start running routes again.

Fantasy Impact:
Jones has the potential to be one of the most productive receivers in the league, but the foot injury is a bit concerning, especially since it’s a broken bone in the same location as his pre-Draft injury. If he plays a full season, he’ll very likely finish in the top 5. He's currently the #6 WR off the board in the early 2nd round.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014, 2:03pm

D. Orlando Ledbetter on Twitter - [Full Article]

Former Falcons WR Kevin Cone is signing with the Miami Dolphins.

Wednesday, April 2, 2014, 12:27pm

ESPN - [Full Article]

ESPN's Matt Williamson talked about Chargers WR Keenan Allen:

"As much as I like Allen, to ask him to improve dramatically in one season may be asking too much. He's a really good receiver, but he does not have the athletic ability of an A.J. Green or a Julio Jones. He could be close to his ceiling already.

Fantasy Impact:
Williamson added that Allen is an advanced route runner and has good hands, just lacks speed. He pointed out that teams will have another year to study him, too. Still, Allen was really the only WR threat on the Bolts last year, but put up nice numbers despite getting the full attention of defenses. He should fall in the WR2 or 3 zone with potential to exceed that in certain matchups.

Monday, March 31, 2014, 9:05am

Manish Mehta on Twitter - [Full Article]

Jets whiffed on top free agent RB choice: Donald Brown. Missed out Maurice Jones-Drew too. NYJ has some level of interest in Chris Johnson if available.

Fantasy Impact:
CJ2K was linked to Atlanta just a few days ago, however the Falcons have since denied interest. But, it seems to be a given the Titans are going to release Johnson sometime soon, seemingly giving Shonn Greene the first crack at the job.

Friday, March 28, 2014, 8:32pm

Jason LaCanfora on Twitter - [Full Article]

Titans very likely to release RB Chris Johnson next week after failed trade attempts. Would draw strong interest as FA as DeSean Jackson did.

Fantasy Impact:
Johnson was linked to the Falcons by some Titans beat writers. Shonn Greene and Jackie Battle are next up on the Titans depth chart.

Friday, March 28, 2014, 10:56am

ESPN - [Full Article]

The Atlanta Falcons, they made their big pickup last offseason by signing Steven Jackson to a three-year, $12 million deal. Jackson had eight-consecutive 1,000-yard rushing seasons with the St. Louis Rams before joining the Falcons.

He averaged a career-low 3.5 yards per carry in his first season with Atlanta as a hamstring injury limited him to 12 games and poor offensive line play hampered his effectiveness.

But Falcons head coach Mike Smith expressed faith in Jackson moving forward, although Jackson turns 31 before the 2014 season.

"Unfortunately, Steven was injured last year and we didn't really get a chance to see what he was capable of doing until the last four or five games," Smith said. "But you've got to have a big back when you have to get the two or three yards. Especially late in the season, you've got to be able to run the football."

Fantasy Impact:
Jackson injured his hamstring in a Week 2 win over his former team, the Rams. He missed four games and couldn't get into a rhythm immediately. He finished the 2013 season with six touchdowns in the last six games, the story points out. But, he's clearly on the decline and many think the Falcons will address the position in the draft.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014, 9:11am

Atlanta Journal-Constitution - [Full Article]

Falcons coach Mike Smith said wide receiver Julio Jones is running and is ahead of schedule at the owner’s meeting in Orlando today, the team said.

Fantasy Impact:
Jones should be back to being one of the top-ranked fantasy receivers in drafts this summer, but he's coming off his second foot injury already.