Fantasy football. You either love it or hate it. If you're one of the tens of millions who play, you can never go back to simply watching the games to see which team wins.
Consider this scenario: It's Week 16. Monday Night Football. Falcons versus Saints. You cheer on your beloved Falcons as they have a chance to clinch home field advantage throughout the NFC Playoffs. But you also have Drew Brees on your fantasy team as you compete in your league's championship game. It creates an interesting dynamic between being a fan of your team and being a fantasy football owner. Can you be both? Absolutely. In this scenario you simply root for Brees to throw five touchdowns (helping your fantasy team) and the Falcons to score six (helping your real team). It's a win-win.
So which Falcons can help you win your league? We begin first with No. 33.
RB Michael Turner
Target Round: 1st
If you want the Burner, you'll need to pay a heavy price - your first round pick - but it's worth it. In 27 games with Atlanta, Turner has 27 touchdowns. No other player has averaged one touchdown per game in the NFL during that stretch. That's fantasy gold.
Yards are important, but it's the touchdowns that get your name on the trophy at the end of the year. If he returns to his 2008 form, he has a chance to be the number one running back.
WR Roddy White
Target Round: 2nd
White broke out as the number one receiver in Atlanta with Joey Harrington and Byron Leftwich throwing him the ball, so you can imagine his giddiness when the Falcons drafted Matt Ryan in 2008.
He was the second-most targeted receiver in the NFL last season behind only Andre Johnson of the Texans and has averaged 85 catches and 1,245 yards over the past three seasons. His ceiling has not yet been reached.
TE Tony Gonzalez
Target Round: 6th
Gonzalez is the GOAT. He enters his 14th season and shows no signs of slowing down. Last season he was the top targeted tight end with 135 targets. That's over eight looks a game, the 12th best among all receivers.
While his receptions and yards were down from his last two seasons as a Chief, Gonzalez is still a top-tier tight end and perhaps the safest selection among the tight end group.
QB Matt Ryan
Target Round: 8th
This year will mark Ryan's third season as a starter. This is typically the time when a quarterback has been given full control of the playbook and total command of the offense. It will, historically, be the year he breaks out.
Ryan has all the weapons he needs to put together a 3,600 yard, 25 touchdown season. He has tremendous upside and is a good value going in the eighth round in most drafts.
LB Curtis Lofton
Target Round: 13th
For those in IDP leagues, there's really only one sure thing on the Falcons' defense: Curtis "The Police" Lofton. He upped his tackle total from 60 in his rookie year to 103 last season. Another similar leap in 2010 and you could be looking at the NFL leader in tackles. He hasn't shown the big play ability to become an All-Pro yet, but he's only 24 and the leader of an up-and-coming defense.
Your Falcons-biased Fantasy Team
Other players could merit consideration in deeper leagues. Harry Douglas, Michael Jenkins, Jason Snelling and Jerious Norwood may find their way onto fantasy rosters this season. Defensively, Brent Grimes (six interceptions in 2009) and Sean Weatherspoon make intriguing late-round IDP flyers.
Considering the average draft position of these fantasy Falcons, it's entirely conceivable you could own everyone of them on your fantasy team while still being in a strong position to win your league's championship. I love win-win scenarios.