Aug 8, 2014; Atlanta, GA, USA; Atlanta Falcons running back Devonta Freeman (33) runs for yardage as Miami Dolphins linebacker Andrew Wilson (45) pursues during their game at the Georgia Dome. The Falcons won 16-10. Mandatory Credit: Jason Getz-USA TODAY Sports

Fantasy Football 2014: Atlanta Falcons RB Rundown

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The Falcons were one of the biggest surprises in the NFL in 2013, and not in a way that their fans were excited about.  Although there were many issues and injuries, one of the biggest letdowns was in their backfield as they replaced an aging Michael Turner with a just-as-again Steven Jackson.

This season, the Falcons are solid picks to bounce back from a season where everything that could go wrong did.  However, what does that mean for their running back situation and how can they help your fantasy team.

Atlanta has done a decent job of building some depth behind Jackson, so I do actually think the Falcons ground game can produce some valuable numbers even though I’m not high on S-Jax.  Atlanta’s passing attack should get a huge boost from Julio Jones’ return which should allow them to return to a much more effective level and open things up a bit for the running game.

Here is my look at the Falcons running backs as we continue our RB Rundowns.  The rankings included are from my top 80 RB which came out last week and which will be updated later this week.


Steven Jackson

RB, Atlanta Falcons

Jackson played just 12 games last season and ran for only 542 yards while averaging 3.5 yards per carry and never breaking the 100-yard plateau.  Already this preseason, Jackson is battling a hamstring injury and not playing much.  The good news is that he’s going so late in drafts that he becomes a bargain, but the bad news is his body may be letting him down.  If you can get him late, he could be a decent flex fill-in for the first few weeks since he does shape up to be their primary rusher to start the season.

Devonta Freeman

RB, Atlanta Falcons

Freeman is the Falcons’ back with the most fantasy upside as he’s shown this preseason with a pair of impressive performances. He is still listed at fourth on the Falcons depth chart, but if there is a breakout rusher, the rookie from Florida State is the best flier pick.  The downside with Freeman is that there’s no guarantee when he’ll get a shot and will need to improve his pass blocking to earn more playing time.

Jacquizz Rodgers

RB, Atlanta Falcons

Rodgers has been a tease to fantasy owners in the past, but he doesn’t have the physical makeup to be a regular contributor as a feature back.  He can and will be used as a change of pace option and a receiver out of the backfield, but it’s safe to leave him on the waiver wire in almost all formats until he shows he’s ready to be a consistent force in a larger role than he’s currently slated for.

Antone Smith

RB, Atlanta Falcons

Smith has had a positive preseason and is ahead of Freeman, at least for now, for reps in the backfield.  He would be the player who would gain the most if Steven Jackson went down injured since the Falcons seem to think he’s more ready in the short-term.  Smith could be an interesting one-week play early in the season if Jackson misses a week, but his longterm ceiling is still pretty low, so you can leave him on the waiver wire to start the season.

This post is part of a series detailing the backfield situation for each NFL team from a fantasy football perspective. Check out my top 80 rankings and click here for the full series.

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Tags: 2014 Fantasy Football Antone Smith Atlanta Falcons Devonta Freeman Fantasy Football Preview Fantasy Football RB Jacquizz Rodgers RB Rankings RB Rundown Steven Jackson

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