Atlanta Falcons 2021 Fantasy Previewby Gio Damico August 14, 2021 0 comments
It’s going to be a completely new look for the Atlanta Falcons in 2021. For the first time since 2010, Julio Jones will not be repping black and red. In the past, Jones has been the primary playmaker in that offense, and his absence opens up many opportunities for guys to step in and shine. The Falcons added former Carolina Panthers running back Mike Davis who will jump right into the mix and be the lead back for Atlanta. Cordarrelle Patterson also joins the Dirty Birds and will play a versatile, but probably not fantasy-relevant, role. Arguably their biggest move, though, was adding tight end, Kyle Pitts, in the draft, a young man with superstar potential.
Make sure to check out all of our other 2021 Fantasy Football Previews.
Quarterback – Matt Ryan
Ryan has thrown for 4,000 plus yards every year since 2011. He is fantasy-relevant every season, but the production has dropped off a touch since his stellar 2018 campaign where he recorded 4,924 yards and 35 touchdowns. Without Jones, Ryan will need to continue gaining chemistry with Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage, and Pitts. Ryan has never had anything to offer from a rushing standpoint, which automatically lowers his value when you have guys like Trey Lance and Justin Fields going at a similar ADP. Sure, Ryan is a proven franchise quarterback and those guys are rookies, but they offer a far higher fantasy ceiling.
Ryan would need to make a significant jump from last season to be worth a pick over a guy like Baker Mayfield who is being drafted at a similar ADP. With the loss of his main target and a new system under a new head coach, Ryan is a bench quarterback at best this year, with the potential to draw the start in juicy matchups.
Running Backs – Mike Davis, Qadree Ollison, Cordarrelle Patterson
The Davis signing was a fantastic pickup for the Falcons. Todd Gurley did not have much to offer last year which caused the offense to be one-dimensional. Davis is an underrated back who finally got some opportunities last year in Christian McCaffrey’s absence, and now he finds himself as the lead back for the division-rival Falcons. He offers a lot as a receiver too, as he caught 59 balls for 373 yards and two touchdowns last season. Davis is flying under the radar as the RB23 on average in drafts. He is a safer pick than guys like Myles Gaskin who are being drafted higher. Ollison and Patterson are really only worth roster spots if Davis were to sustain an injury. Those two being Davis’ backups only boost his stock, and there is no need to draft either Ollison or Patterson.
Wide Receivers – Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage, Olamide Zaccheaus
Ridley is currently being drafted as the WR5 with an average ADP of about pick 18 in PPR drafts. The loss of Jones propels Ridley into the spotlight as Ryan’s primary target. He will garner many of the targets that Jones took in seasons past, which is why he is so sought after in your fantasy drafts this year. Ridley started 15 games last year and caught 90 passes for 1374 yards and nine touchdowns. Of course, it’s intriguing to everyone that he will see even more looks from Ryan, so the hype is completely real. Buy into it, but don’t be a fool.
Some experts suggest that Gage is a great pick this season, while others think he’s a fish pick. Let’s start with facts: Gage played all 16 games last year and had 72 catches for 786 yards and four touchdowns. He finished as WR37 in PPR last year and is being drafted as WR49 this year. It really doesn’t make sense why a guy like him should get any disrespect, but he should not be expected to make a significant jump into the top-24. Why? Pitts. Although the Falcons lost Jones, they add a shiny new toy that will garner a lot of targets. Gage should finish similarly to where he did last year, making him worth the pick at his ADP, especially if anyone gets injured. Avoid Zaccheaus unless it’s a super deep league.
Tight Ends – Kyle Pitts
Pitts finished his college career with 100 catches for 1,492 yards and 18 touchdowns over 24 games. He is a monster weapon for the Falcons because of his pure athleticism. Pitts just does everything well you’d want from a tight end, the definition of a generational prospect. He is currently being drafted as the TE5 around an average ADP of 45. Pitts will be an asset to anyone who adds him in fantasy this year, and he will perform better than Mark Andrews who is being drafted above him. Expect a huge target share for the rookie as the aging Ryan will look for a reliable target.
Even with a new defensive coordinator and the easy schedule they face, the Falcons defense is still a bottom 12 defense from a fantasy standpoint. They finished as D/ST24 last season, so they should make a jump from there, but nothing significant enough to make them worth a roster spot in fantasy, and certainly not a starting spot week in and week out. At best they are a streaming option when facing an underwhelming offense.
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