Sanu Signs $32.5 Million Deal with Falcons
Despite being the franchise’s all-time leader in receptions, receiving yards and touchdowns there was little surprise the Atlanta Falcons felt it was time to move on from their 11-year relationship with Roddy White this off-season. The wide receiver’s production simple fell off to a point where it was clear that the time to say goodbye was now. His 43 receptions in 2015 was his lowest total since the 2006 season while his 506 receiving yards was tied for his second-least season yardage mark in his tenure as a Falcon.
Sanu, who is 26 years old, brings a diverse bag of tools with him to Atlanta. Although last season the pass catcher had a limited role in the Bengals’ passing game as he fell well behind A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert and Marvin Jones in the pecking order for targets from quarterback Andy Dalton, he still finished the season with 33 receptions for 394 yards and zero touchdowns. And his impact on the offense was not just in the passing attack. He also rushed the ball 10 times for 71 yards and two touchdowns. Although he did not attempt one last season, in his four-year NFL career he also has completed five pass attempts and even threw a touchdown pass in 2014.
But even with Sanu’s versatile skill set, the Falcons are obtaining a wide receiver that is still an unknown NFL commodity. In his four year NFL career he has just 34 starts to his name and only 152 career receptions. Despite the small sample size, he did little to show that he is a capable starting NFL wide receiver. In the 34 games that he ran with the starting unit in his career, Sanu averaged just 3.2 receptions and 39.8 yards per game.
Atlanta’s plan obviously is to get more out Sanu than the Bengals did in his four-year reign, but he likely will be competing with second-year wide receiver James Hardy for a secondary role next to Julio Jones.
Fantasy Perspective: While Sanu is an interesting athlete it is not likely that he will evolve into a stud wide receiver in the Atlanta offense as long as Julio Jones remains healthy. Clearly the offense runs through Julio Jones and rightfully so. With Jones’ 136 catches last season accounting for 33% of the receptions made for the Falcons in 2015, there is not much opportunity left for the other wide receivers on the roster to make any sort of fantasy impact.
What’s even more bleak for Sanu fantasy owners is the fact Matt Ryan targeted running back Devonta Freeman and tight end Jacob Tamme more in the passing game than the secondary wide receivers. Both Roddy White and Leonard Hankerson saw significantly less targets than those two.
Even if quarterback Matt Ryan decides to target the wide receiver position more in 2016, there is no guarantee that those extra passes will be going Sanu’s way. Look for second-year wide receiver Justin Hardy to push Sanu for a chance at being White’s replacement. The young pass catcher averaged five targets per game over the last four weeks of the 2015 season and it is believed that the coaching staff is excited about Hardy’s future.
With limited success thus far in his NFL career and walking into a less than ideal offensive situation, Sanu is not a player that fantasy football enthusiast should be counting on for the 2016 season. The only situation where Sanu could emerge as a serious fantasy football option would be an injury to Julio Jones. If that were to happen the new Falcon would see his fantasy value jump but only if he is able to beat out Hardy on the Falcon’s depth chart.