Analyzing a player's fantasy value

Philadelphia, PA (Sports Network) - It's a procedure that every fantasy owner must do a thousand times before he takes a spot at the table for his annual NFL fantasy draft.

It's the process of evaluating and analyzing fantasy players. Building your expectations for the upcoming season into an exact fantasy value for each player. You need this value to rank the players at their position and to rank different position players in the correct statistical order.

Of course, if you are lazy or don't have the time, you can simply go to your favorite fantasy site or buy a magazine and use someone else's work. However, when you do the work yourself, you have a better control over the individual factors that makes your league and its rules unique.

Today we will look at just one player, Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Roddy White, to give you an idea of how do go about getting the right value.

Below are four key factors that go into figuring out how much a player could contribute to your fantasy lineup:

1) Past History

While past history is no guarantee of future production, it gives you a starting point for evaluating a player. In the case of White, he's caught 100 or more balls in each of the past two seasons while leading the NFL in targets with 179 in both 2010 and 2011. Therefore we start our evaluation with the knowledge that White posted 100 catches for 1,296 yards and eight touchdowns in 2011 and 115 for 1,389 yards and 10 touchdowns in 2010 for a two-year average of 107-1,342-9.

2) Injury Probability

Here's the good news - White has played in all 16 games in each of his first seven seasons. Sure, he's played a few of the games at less than 100 percent, but he's a warrior and you can expect to see him in the lineup when you write his name down. The bad news is that he's taken a lot of hits in those 115 games (including playoffs).

3) Changes in the Falcons' offensive makeup

Quarterback Matt Ryan has started from Week 1 in 2008 and now in his fifth season has become a top quality signal-caller. Over the past three seasons, his passing yardage has improved from 2,916 to 3,705 to 4,177, and this trend should continue. However, one of the things a veteran quarterback learns is how to distribute the ball to the open receiver, not force it in to one guy.

Said White just this week: "We've got other guys out there that can play. Julio (Jones) is going to be a big part of the offense this year."

When the team traded up in the first round to get Jones last year, the writing was on the wall that in the not-too-distant future, Jones, not White, would be the team's No. 1 receiver. After just one season, Jones proved to be everything expected of him and by the end of the year was already the dynamic deep threat Atlanta was hoping for on Draft Day. Jones caught 54 balls in 13 games for 959 yards (17.8 ypc) with eight touchdowns.

Third wideout Harry Douglas had his best season in 2011, catching 39 balls for 498 yards, and has become a reliable target for Ryan. Meanwhile, future Hall of Fame tight end Tony Gonzalez continues to produce solidly and posted 80 receptions for 875 yards and seven scores in 2011. Those numbers likely won't change in 2012.

Given these facts, it only stands to reason that White will see fewer targets in 2011.

White sees the future and you should, too.

4) Schedule

The Falcons are located in the NFC South and play Carolina, Tampa Bay and New Orleans twice. None of those defenses remind you of the Pittsburgh Steelers or Baltimore Ravens. They also play the AFC West - Denver, Kansas City, San Diego and Oakland. All told, the Falcons play just two teams that ranked in the top 10 for fewest passing yards (Denver, Philadelphia) and play 10 teams who were ranked 21st or worse (out of 32 teams). So the schedule is definitely favorable.

Evaluation

Most of the factors seem to say that White will continue to produce well - a good schedule, an injury-free history and an improving quarterback. But the improvement of the receiving corps around White will be the key factor in a slightly lower, but still effective, level.

For 2012, White should see about a 10-percent decrease in targets and a corresponding decrease in production to 90-1,200-8. Still excellent statistics, but a significant drop from the last two seasons.

Apparently many of the early mock draft participants at fantasyfootballcalculator.com agree with this analysis as White has fallen from a 2011 ADP of 12.9 (early second-round pick) to its current level of 27.7 (late third-round selection).

Comments? Criticism? Applause? Contact Steve Schwarz at sschwarz@sportsnetwork.com.

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