This is the 20th in a series of opinionated fantasy football columns that will be posted daily in July and August, providing fantasy owners with some insights to consider as they prepare for their drafts. You can get an in-depth preview of the upcoming fantasy football season with the purchase of the Yahoo! Sports / Pro Football Weekly Fantasy Football Guide 2010, available now in newsstands and bookstores, or online at PFWstore.com.
After tearing an ACL early in training camp last year, which knocked him out for the entire season, Falcons WR Harry Douglas will return to the field in 2010, and the team is expecting him to provide a spark once again.
Some fantasy owners will no doubt bet that he will do the same thing for their team when it comes time to find a backup receiver late in drafts.
Douglas may not be a star, but he's well known inside savvy circles of fantasy players. Despite making just 23 catches in his career, he is being watched closely by Falcons fans as he makes his return, and it came as a minor disappointment when he was held out of OTAs in late May. The Falcons were hoping he would function as their own version of New England's Wes Welker when they drafted the 6-0, 182-pound Douglas the third round in 2008.
"When we drafted Harry a couple of years ago, the expectations, having come from New England, were to have a player that was reminiscent of Wes Welker, who could play the slot inside with two big tall wide receivers in Roddy White and Mike Jenkins," GM Thomas Dimitroff, who previously served as a scout for the Patriots, said earlier this offseason. "We wanted to have that underneath guy. … We bring in Tony Gonzalez and we have him inside as well and we had Michael Turner running the rock. We thought we had a lot of firepower there.
"So, we are getting back to thinking that we are going to return to that idea. Hopefully, if we can stay healthy, we are excited about our possibilities of producing on offense."
If he fully recovers, as expected, from the knee surgery without losing any of the speed and quickness he flashed as a rookie, the hype Douglas is receiving will have been warranted.
The Falcons have their No. 1 receiver in White, but Douglas has a shot at taking snaps away from Jenkins, who is penciled as the No. 2 receiver. At the least, Douglas will be Atlanta's top weapon in the slot. QB Matt Ryan had more passing attempts in 14 games last season than he did in 16 contests as a rookie, and it's likely that the Falcons will allow him to throw even more often in Year Three.
Douglas has big-play potential and the Falcons used him as a rusher, receiver and returner in his first season. Count on offensive coordinator Mike Mularkey getting creative and finding ways to get the ball in Douglas' hands.
He could be a valuable piece off the bench for fantasy owners in 2010.
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