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Spotlight: Roddy White

posted by Mark Wimer on Jul 12th


Mark Wimer's thoughts

Roddy White has hauled in at least 83 passes over each of the last four seasons, and he's been a top ten fantasy wide receiver in each of the past three years while quarterback Matt Ryan has led the Falcons' passing attack. Over the last two years he's posted double-digit TDs, with 85/1,153/11 (2009) and 115/1,389/10 (2010) receiving. As Ryan has matured into an outstanding starting QB, White has risen to the peak of his potential as Ryan's top target on the squad, with 177 passes coming White's way during 2010. 2010 was also the first time in his career that White snagged more than 100 receptions in a season. He saw 104 more passes last year than #2 wide receiver Michael Jenkins (73 targets for 41/505/2 receiving) and 68 more passes than star tight end Tony Gonzalez (109 targets for 70/656/6)). White will be 29 years old when the season begins, turning 30 on November second - he's an outstanding veteran presence who is very simpatico with his starting quarterback, yet young enough to have the resiliency of youth (important when it comes to fighting through the minor dings and bruises that all NFL players endure from season to season).

The Falcons were the number one seed in the NFC last year after a 13-3 season, despite facing the defending 2009 Super Bowl Champs New Orleans twice in their division - before losing to the eventual 2010 Super Bowl Champs in the divisional round of the playoffs. During the NFL Draft in April, it quickly became clear that the Falcons think their offense will lead them to contend for a championship again during 2011. Atlanta bolstered the offense with more weapons for Ryan in the persons of wide receiver Julio Jones (who they gave up five picks to draft) and also a nifty change-of-pace/third-down running back named Jacquizz Rodgers. Considering how much the Falcons paid to add Jones to the team, some fantasy owners may be concerned about White losing touches to Jones.

I'm not one of the people worried about Jones 'vulturing' touches from White. Jones was considered the best run-blocking wide receiver available in the 2011 draft, which is one of the reasons the Falcons added him - but plays spent blocking for Michael Turner won't bump up his fantasy numbers. As a rookie wide receiver, Jones will have to go through the NFL learning curve on an accelerated schedule due to the lack of organized team activities and mini-camps during the 2011 lockout, and that's a concern about his chances to replace Jenkins early in the season. However, Jones has reportedly been working closely with Ryan in player organized workouts during June, which is all to the good. The Falcons have long needed a stronger #2 wide receiver across from White to complement White (and to threaten opposing defenses enough that they aren't blanketing White with double-coverage a majority of the time). I think that the arrival of Jones and Rodgers will help make the Atlanta offense more dynamic and unpredictable, which should help raise production from Ryan and also help White shake loose of coverage more often. The Falcons were eighth in the league in passing attempts last year, with 577 passes put up, but landed at fifteenth in passing yards with 3,567 yards. There is room for improvement, and I think that White will be able to maintain his top-five presence despite the new faces in the lineup. He has a legitimate chance to be the #1 fantasy wide receiver in the league during 2011. Ryan is just coming into his own as a top-tier NFL quarterback, and White is his favorite receiver - a rising tide lifts all ships.

Positives

  • White is at the peak of his career, with a proven track record of results
  • The Falcons' offense is powerful and primed for another run into the playoffs, and they play in a domed stadium, which helps keep production consistent even during cold-weather months
  • White is a points-per-reception league standout, with the potential for over 100 receptions again this year

Negatives

  • The NFL lockout has delayed integrating the new players into Atlanta's scheme - there could be a slow start from this unit due to the lockout
  • White is approaching 30 years old, so he may be less attractive to dynasty owners who are drafting their squads for the first time this year
  • Atlanta plays a first-place schedule in a tough division this year

Final thoughts

Roddy White is, rightfully, one of the top five wide receivers on most fantasy owners' boards. I am slightly more optimistic about White than most (I think he has a legitimate shot to end the season as the #1 fantasy wide receiver in the land, and have him at #2 on my wide receiver board) - without question, he is one of the most attractive fantasy options at his position this year. One of the things I love about his situation (and the Falcons') from the fantasy perspective is that I can see how this unit should be peaking during the second half of the NFL season - right when fantasy playoffs are being decided.


Quotations from the message board thread

To view the entire Player Spotlight thread (there's a ton of fantastic commentary in there), click here.

fdctrupmet said:

Over the past few years, ATL has used White more and more as a possession receiver. Not because he can't make the big play, but because they have been lacking that weapon on the other side. Norwood's injuries have not helped the situation either. Basically, it was going to White (or since 2009, Gonzalez) on passing plays. Very predictable and I think it's praise to their abilities that Ryan and White have been as successful as they have been when the other team knows what is coming - which is likely a White target within 12 yards of the line of scrimmage.

This off-season they changed that - they got Julio Jones for the other side. They got Rodgers to be a good receiving option out of the backfield. This will open up Douglas (who can be a weapon in the slot) and Roddy White to do more things more the field.

This will reduce White's targets IMO (maybe 130-140, instead of the very high numbers of the past two years), but his YPC will go back up as well as his catch percentage because the windows for Ryan to get him the ball will be larger.

fightingillini said:

White is a stud. Ryan loves going to him.....often. Will be harder to double team him this year with Julio Jones on the other side. Doesn't seem that ATL's defense is going to be good, so ATL may have to air it out to win games. #2WR on my board to AJ.

Iwannabeacowboybaby! said:

Roddy White is at the top of his game. He plays in a solid offense with a young QB who likes to get White the ball when the chips are on the line. White is coming off a career year so it's easy to like him but it should be more of the same for Roddy White next year.


Roddy White projections

RECRECYDRECTDRSHYDRSHTD
Mark Wimer10513501100
Message board consensus9712811000