Roddy White has caught 100+ passes in each of the last 2 seasons and 80+ passes in each of the last 5. However, today he admitted that new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter plans to lean less on White in 2012, in favor of other players like Harry Douglas and Julio Jones. Players rarely admit things like this, but when they do, you have to take notice.
White was actually the league’s most targeted wide receiver last year, but he was pretty inefficient, averaging just 7.4 yards per target. Meanwhile, Julio Jones averaged 10.5 yards per target. Jones had a strong rookie season with 54 catches for 959 yards and 8 touchdowns, despite missing 3 games and being limited in many others with injuries. His play in his final 5 games showed the type of player he can be when healthy as he caught 24 passes for 461 yards and 5 touchdowns. With a full offseason, better health, and more targets, Jones could emerge as one of the league’s premier wide receivers this season.
A projection of the offense featuring Jones more and White less in 2012 was the reasoning behind Julio Jones coming in 4th on my fantasy football wide receiver board and White 19th, essentially putting him low enough to make sure that he’s someone else’s problem in his age 31 season. White’s admission today just solidifies that.
As for the Falcons’ offense as a whole, White’s projected statistical decline is not necessarily a bad thing. Jones is the more talented receiver and the offense was more efficient in 2011 when Jones was the target rather than White. Matt Ryan could produce career high numbers in 2012. In fact, that’s a big part of the reason why Matt Ryan is 7th on my fantasy football quarterback board. It also helps that Atlanta’s running game is on the decline with Michael Turner aging and that new offensive coordinator Dirk Koetter plans to use more no huddle this season. The Falcons could pass more than they ever have in the Matt Ryan era this year.