The story of the modern day Falcons can be told by looking at the career of Roddy White, and his journey as a wide receiver in the NFL. A late first round draft pick in 2005, White joined the Michael Vick led Falcons who were coming off an 11-5 season, having won the NFC South in 2004. The arrow was pointing up for the franchise, and for White too.
Roddy White came out of college as one of the highly touted wide receivers at the time. He was a promising young rookie, who at 6’1” tall, 217 lbs., ran a quick 4.40-forty. He had speed, and he had burst. He had strength, and he was physical. In much the same way as he plays today, White had the ability to catch a ball across the middle or go deep to make the most difficult of over the shoulder catches look easy. White seemed like a perfect fit for a Falcons team led by five year veteran Michael Vick. However, the team struggled the next two seasons, finishing no better than 8-8. In 2006, Michael Vick was no longer in the NFL and the team spiraled to 4-12 in 2007.
While the team was on a downturn, White’s career was on an upturn. After a modest rookie and sophomore season where in his best season White caught 30 balls for 506 yards, White turned on the proverbial jets in 2007. In a season where the Falcons quarterback group was made up of Joey Harrington, Byron Leftwich, and Chris Redman, Roddy White caught 83 receptions for 1,202 yards and 6 touchdowns! By breaking the 80 reception mark, White established that he was not just another wide receiver, but a wide receiver that could and would play at an elite level. Roddy went on to have six seasons of eighty-plus receptions (2007-12), three seasons of ninety-plus receptions (2010-12), and two seasons of one hundred-plus receptions (2010-11). Yet, for all the individual accomplishments leading up to the 2008 season, the team was struggling. In 2008, it all changed.
The 2008 season brought change to the Falcons franchise, as the team hired new head coach, Mike Smith and brought in Thomas Dimitroff as its new general manager. The team drafted a young quarterback named Matt Ryan who would not only become the face of the franchise, but would help lead the team, with players like running back Michael Turner (added in 2008), tight end Tony Gonzalez (added in 2009), wide receiver Julio Jones (added in 2011) and of course, among many others, Roddy White, to five consecutive winning seasons. As you can imagine, White’s best seasons were with Ryan under center, with his best season in 2010, when the Falcons finished 13-3 and won the NFC for the first time since 2004. In 2010, White had an eye popping 115 receptions for 1,389 yards receiving and 10 TDs. After adding Julio Jones in 2011, the Falcons finished the 2012 season 13-3 again, and all eyes began to look to 2013 as the season where the Falcons could finally get back to, and even win the Super Bowl. It seemed it was just a matter of time and Roddy White would be there for all of it.
Unfortunately, the 2013 season did not start well for Roddy White, or the Falcons for that matter. In the preseason, White sustained a high ankle sprain. While White tried to play through the injury for the first five games of the regular season, the injury limited him physically and his production fell drastically, having just 14 receptions for 129 yards through those five games. The Falcons lost four of those first five games. White missed the next month of the season, and his first football game in 133 consecutive games played as a pro. In fantasy football, a 2013 second or third round pick, White quickly became an early season fantasy ‘bust.’ But, for those fantasy managers that were patient, White returned to the gridiron in Week 10. It was a slow go for White returning to game action. Over three weeks, White caught six balls for 80 yards and one touchdown. Then in Week 13, White blew-up the gridiron with 10 receptions for 143 yards! Now, it seems, Roddy is back!
This week, the Falcons play a Packers team giving up 250 pass yards and almost 2 passing touchdowns per game on the season. Since Aaron Rodgers went down to injury in Week 9, the numbers are slightly higher. The top receivers for four of the five teams that have played the Packers since Week 9, have posted over one hundred yards receiving on the low side to one hundred yards receiving and multiple scores on the high side. Roddy is in line for similar production and is a must start in fantasy football this week.
Roddy White is The Fantasy Greek’s fantasy football player of the week.
For more Top 5 starts at the quarterback, running back, wide receiver, tight end, kicker, and defense/special team positions, visit TheFantasyGreek.com, “Your Second Opinion For Your Fantasy Football Instinct.”
Written By: Jim Saranteas – @TheFantasyGreek and @JimSaranteas on Twitter
Founder of the fantasy football advice site TheFantasyGreek.com
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