We live in a “what have you done for me lately” world, and that is particularly apparent in the world of fantasy football. Every year, certain players get overlooked due to their previous year’s stats rather than being evaluated by a more reliable sample set, such as the player’s production over the past three seasons. This is sadly the case when it comes to Atlanta Falcons wide receiver, Roddy White.
Ever since his breakout season in 2007 with 83 catches for 1,202 yards and six touchdowns, White has been a true model of consistency in the NFL. Excluding 2013, he has averaged 94 catches for 1,296 yards and eight touchdowns per season over the last six years. Additionally, in a down year for him in 2013 which was plagued with injuries, he was on pace for 78 catches, 875 yards and four touchdowns. While those numbers would be excellent for an average receiver, they were disappointing for a player of White’s caliber. However, when you consider the fact that he tried to play through all of last season with a high ankle sprain and hamstring issues which led to a season-ending right foot fracture, it’s even more impressive that he played in 13 games and compiled respectable stats.
Due to that one down year, White has seen his average draft round drop from the range of rounds 2-3 to rounds 4-5. Therefore, it seems obvious that fantasy players this year seem down on White and that is going to be a severe mistake. There are some that argue that White should have been able to still put up great numbers especially after the Falcons lost Julio Jones for most of last season. However, it is much easier for any defensive coordinator to plan around stopping one elite receiver rather than two. It’s even easier when the remaining elite receiver is trying to fight through performance-hindering injuries. Additionally, even though they had a great tight end in Tony Gonzalez, it was his last season and teams would plan for his impact regardless of who the receivers were. In short, it was simply an unfortunate year for White and the Falcons as a whole.
Enter 2014, White is 100 percent healthy. Jones is fully recovered from his injury as well, but that shouldn’t worry fantasy owners that decide to draft White. We must remember that Gonzalez is retired now and that frees up 120 targets. The top two options to get the bulk of those available targets are White and Jones. Therefore, this makes them one of the, if not the most, dangerous wide receiver duos in the NFL. It may seem like a lofty claim, but it’s possible that both of them end the season with 1,500 yards each or close to it.
Jones will be the number one target for Matt Ryan, but his number two option will be White and he will get a ton of usage. So much that I’m buying White not as a WR2, as he in Atlanta, but as a low-end WR1 in standard leagues and easily as a WR1 in PPR leagues. We must all remember that Jones being the top option in the Atlanta offense means that he will also be the top option to stop for any opposing defense. This will leave White, an elite talent, in more single coverage especially in third down conversion situations. This is why it confuses me as to why I haven’t seen White taken almost immediately after Jones comes off the draft board. Instead, I see him drop a few rounds later and players such as Keenan Allen, Vincent Jackson and Alshon Jeffery selected before him.
I’m not trying to say that those three receivers aren’t great picks because they are. However, and especially when you consider PPR leagues, White will exceed their production and it may not be as close as some may anticipate. I’m projecting White to finish 2014 with 90 catches, 1280 yards and eight touchdowns. If those aren’t WR1 numbers, then I don’t know what is. Do yourself the favor and invest in Roddy White.