The Atlanta Falcons went into this season expecting to once again have one of the highest-octane offenses in the NFL. They were dominant last season and there was no reason as to why they wouldn’t be just as good, if not better, this time around. Sadly, a massive meltdown has occurred that no one could have possibly seen coming. The injury bug bit the Falcons and bit them hard, derailing what should have been another strong campaign for Atlanta.
Roddy White was the first victim, suffering a high-ankle sprain just before the season started that’s rendered him basically useless so far. The Falcons have made a huge mistake by playing him in every game, using him as nothing more than a decoy instead of giving him time to heal. He’s suffered multiple setbacks with the injury and he’s still badly hobbled, even coming out of the bye-week. He hasn’t practiced at all this week and it’s looking more and more likely that he’ll miss a game for the first time in his career this Sunday.
Steven Jackson was the second to get hurt, going down in Week 2 with a hamstring injury. He hasn’t played since and coach Mike Smith indicated this week that he’s still fairly far away from a return. The Falcons will be forced to soldier on with the one-two punch of Jacquizz Rodgers and Jason Snelling, who’ve both been good but lack any home-run ability.
Last but certainly not least, we have Julio Jones. Jones was a monster through the first five weeks and stood a very good chance of leading the league in receiving this year. Then the bug made its way to him and he suffered a season-ending foot injury, collapsing what little hope the Falcons had left of turning their season around.
These injuries have all keyed a major failure for a team that was considered one of the main contenders for a championship heading into this season. Matt Ryan‘s now forced to continue on without three of his four top weapons, leading to the obvious question of who he’s going to throw to this week against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers.
For starters, we know he’ll be looking for Tony Gonzalez as often as possible. Gonzo hasn’t produced in the way his Fantasy owners were hoping for so far but he’ll now get a major boost in every relevant offensive category. Aside from him, though, who else is Ryan going to throw to? Harry Douglas, that’s who.
Douglas hasn’t put up Fantasy-friendly numbers so far, amassing just 16 catches for 219 yards and no touchdowns. However, this week he’ll be jumping from the third receiving option to the first. If White does sit, the Falcons will likely trot out Douglas, Drew Davis and Kevin Cone as their top three receivers, two of whom you’ve probably never even heard of. It’s highly unlikely that the latter two draw more targets than Douglas so he figures to be very heavily involved in the game plan this week and probably the rest of the way as well. What’s also notable is that Ryan has actually looked for Douglas in the red zone repeatedly this season. Granted, it hasn’t resulted in any touchdowns but they’re definitely coming.
Douglas is one of the very best sleeper options available this week and could be a nice surprise going forward as well. If he’s not owned in your league, change that.