Atlanta Falcons wide receiver Calvin Ridley enters his third pro season with considerable fanfare, but his average fantasy football draft placement of 4:06 in point-per-reception leagues actually may not be early enough. While everyone wants a bargain, don’t expect there to be a discount on what Ridley offers. In fact, if you’re as high on him as warranted, Ridley is a reasonable reach into the late third round to avoid missing out.
- Extremely productive over his first two seasons, especially at finding the end zone
- Draws single coverage with regularity but capable of beating doubles
- Will see a dramatic increase in action with tight end Austin Hooper gone — largely unproven Hayden Hurst replaces him
- More looks yet are available after replacing Devonta Freeman with Todd Gurley — it’s not that Gurley cannot catch but rather the likelihood Atlanta will want to keep him fresh
- No one to speak of as the third receiver after the Mohamed Sanu trade last year
- Proven, veteran quarterback with whom Ridley has chemistry
- Porous defense will put the offense in holes in a division that has opened up offensively
- Said division has weak cornerback play
- Games at home half of the year are a plus
- Improved offensive line by way of maturation
- Actually more consistent in 2019 than Julio Jones
- Offensive system hasn’t changed, so less to focus on during abbreviated offseason
- Eighth-best fantasy football strength of schedule
- Second fiddle to Jones caps Ridley’s talent-to-output ratio
- So-so closing schedule over Weeks 14-16 (@LAC, TB, @KC)
- Battled hip and abdominal strains in 2019, missing three games
- Limited experience out of the slot, where his athleticism would help create mismatches
Fantasy football outlook
The offense loses 209 targets, or 32 percent of it’s attempted passes from 2019, when Freeman (70), Hooper (97) and Sanu (42 in seven games) are removed. Those looks have to go somewhere, and while all of them won’t be toward Ridley, it’s not like Jones will see that many more added to his 157 from last season. Gurley was targeted only 49 times by the Los Angeles Rams in 2019, down from at least 81 in the prior two seasons. And it’s far from a guarantee Gurley finishes the year, even with a reduced workload.
In the event Jones gets hurt — something he has been no stranger to in his career — in his age-31 season, Ridley likely becomes a top-five fantasy receiver each week. Should Julio remain on the field, Ridley still has the potential for an 80-1,150-10 season as the No. 2 target. That would place him as the 2019 No. 7 fantasy receiver in PPR. Lofty but not lunacy. Nevertheless, 75 receptions for 1,050 yards and eight TDs is still a nice floor as a WR2.