The Atlanta Falcons jumped out to an early 17-point lead in Monday’s Week 1 showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles at the Georgia Dome. A dynamic passing combination featuring quarterback Matt Ryan and receiver Julio Jones was a big reason why.
Ryan also integrated veteran wideout Roddy White into the act, hitting him for several considerable gains, but connected with Jones on two first-half touchdowns.
Read on for the stats on Ryan, Jones and White and fantasy football advice for each member of Atlanta’s marquee trio after the strong showing in the season opener.
It almost goes without saying that Jones is a WR1. The majority of his production came in the first half—and that was only because the Falcons were called for penalties on three separate quick screens Jones manufactured good gains out of later on.
Considering that Atlanta suffered from suspect pass protection Monday—albeit against a ferocious Eagles pass rush—it stands to reason the Falcons will be able to execute those short hits to Jones on a regular basis.
ESPN.com’s Field Yates highlighted how much damage Jones did for fantasy teams in the early going:
Jones took a quick pass from Ryan, shook off multiple tackles and found paydirt for his first touchdown. Then he beat lauded Philadelphia free agent Byron Maxwell over the top on the second score.
It’s safe to say Jones should be in fantasy owners’ lineups every week. With an improved running game to open up play-action passes, Jones will be as dangerous as ever.
Injuries have plagued White in recent years, but he was reliable in Week 1 and should be a solid flex option in deeper fantasy leagues, if not a WR2.
There aren’t a lot of other threats in the Falcons receiving corps. Leonard Hankerson is unproven, and Devin Hester, who didn’t play in Week 1, is explosive but inconsistent.
White is a solid possession receiver who will draw one-on-one matchups with defenses tilting coverage over to Jones’ side of the field. Offensive coordinator Kyle Shanahan can find ways to scheme White open, and White has a nice feel for how to sit down in zones and find holes in the opposing secondary.
A couple of poor decisions cost Ryan two interceptions. Part of the blame falls on the pressure that was in his face, but he forced a throw to start the second half and turned it over deep in Atlanta territory, allowing the Eagles back into the game.
Ryan generally takes good care of the football, though. As the Falcons continue to jell up front and the rushing attack picks up, the mistakes should dwindle.
The Falcons stuck with the run Monday but should still shape their offensive identity and score the majority of their points as a result of big-splash plays through the air. Ryan is worth deploying every week in two-QB fantasy formats and still merits consideration as a QB1 thanks to the talent around him.
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