Everyone knew the Atlanta Falcons were going to have a tough season last year with a bunch of new rookie players, including new quarterback Desmond Ridder, and in Arthur Smith’s second season remaking the team. Somehow, they managed to go 7-10 again while failing to meet pretty much any fantasy or dynasty projections anyone had for them. The team scored fairly well, ranking 15th in points for, but their defense was atrocious. The defense was 23rd and largely should’ve been worse had the Falcons not had an easy schedule. Hopefully, this year’s fantasy projections are closer to what to expect of the Atlanta Falcons.
The Falcons got rid of Marcus Mariota and have decided to hand the full-time starting reigns to Desmond Ridder though newcomer Taylor Heinicke looms in the background. They brought back second-year players Drake London and Tyler Allgeier. The wide receiver and running back, respectively, had really solid seasons. It was surprising to see Tyler end up with over a thousand yards on the ground, though the Falcons’ heavy rushing offense and Cordarrelle Patterson missing time helped that happen.
One major disappointment was Kyle Pitts. He failed to follow up a strong rookie year. His sophomore year culminated in a season-ending injury that cost him the final seven games of the year. The hope isn’t lost for the Falcons’ future. They added a star and potentially generational running back, Bijan Robinson, with the eighth pick of the First Round of the NFL Draft. The Falcons are highly committed to the run and got the best rookie running back since Saquon Barkley. If Ridder develops, the Falcons could win the NFC South this year. All stats are PPR.
The Falcons seem committed to giving Ridder the season to prove himself. If he fails, they likely wind up with a top-five pick and can get one of the many potential top quarterbacks next draft season. That, with the potential that Taylor Heinicke steals a few snaps or games, gives me credence to believe that Ridder’s a fine QB3 in dynasty, but ultimately, he isn’t a worthwhile quarterback to rebuild with. He will likely be replaced in a season. Ridder has average arm strength and accuracy and will be helped a lot by Bijan taking a ton of the offensive workload.
Ridder’s issues and lack of elite tools limit the upside for London and Pitts. This means you should target them in dynasty if you’re rebuilding because their value will go up eventually. As for Ridder, if you need a third quarterback desperately as a contender, I’d look at dealing a mid-late second-round pick for him. I think you could do better looking elsewhere. As for my projections, I project Desmond Ridder to throw for 2,733 yards, with 19 touchdowns and eight interceptions, and have a 61.7% completion rate. He will rush for 246 yards on 60 attempts and score a touchdown, giving him an average of 14.2 ppg over 16 games. Don’t be surprised if, next season, the Atlanta Falcons have a new quarterback.
Bijan Robinson was the eighth pick in the NFL Draft for a reason. Arguably, he should’ve gone higher as he’s seen as potentially a better prospect than Saquon Barkley was, and he went second. Regardless, Bijan landed in a great spot. The Atlanta Falcons are a huge rushing offense. They ran the ball a massive 55.29% of the time. With Bijan in tow, that number should stay the same. Arthur Smith helped Derrick Henry reach the massive numbers he had in his past. He will do the same for Bijan. The Atlanta Falcons have a strong offensive line, and meshing that with Bijan will mean fantasy wonders for the dynasty RB1.
Bijan is unbuyable right now. If you have him, you are NOT selling him. Granted, his price will never be higher, but he’s also the best running back to own in dynasty. In fact, don’t be shocked if he finishes the season as the RB1 or RB2 in the entire league. Since I’m more pessimistic about this Atlanta Falcons offense, I’m conservative with my Bijan projections this year. Still, I have Bijan Robinson down to rush the ball 255 times for 1,194 yards and 12 touchdowns and see 57 targets with 45 receptions, 401 receiving yards, and three touchdowns. Over 17 games, that equates to a terrific 17.3 ppg. Yeah, Bijan will win people a lot of money this year.
Tyler Allgeier & Cordarrele Patterson
The Falcons have two strong backup running backs that will spell Bijan. They’ll mix in for six to ten carries a game. This will allow the team to keep Bijan healthy and run the ball more effectively. Cordarrelle Patterson may be entering his age-32 season, but he was on pace for a career season last year before his injury. He had 695 rushing yards and 8 rushing touchdowns, with 21 receptions for 122 yards. That’s impressive work on only 144 attempts and 31 targets. He will be a solid backup to own as a contender in dynasty because if Bijan goes down, Patterson will see a ton of work. I project him for 67 attempts, 318 rushing yards, three touchdowns, and 18 receptions on 27 targets for 115 yards and a touchdown.
As for Tyler Allgeier, well, the rookie had a phenomenal rookie season. His thank you was to be relegated to back up one of the best running back prospects in years. The rookie had a strong
rookie year by rushing the ball 210 times for 1,035 yards, three touchdowns, and catching 16 of 17 targets for 139 yards and a touchdown. Normally, he would be the Week 1 starter after such a good start to his career. Then, the Falcons drafted Bijan. That went by the wayside, but that doesn’t mean Allgeier can’t be a reliable fantasy backup. Should Bijan go down at all, Allgeier has top-24 potential. I project him to rush 175 times for 857 yards, five touchdowns, and catch five of seven targets for 46 yards. That’s good enough for 7.4 ppg. It’s not elite, but it’s solid enough to ensure you acquire him if you own Bijan. He’s an elite handcuff.
Drake showed no signs of the ankle injury he had in his last year of college. He had a fine rookie season catching 72 of his 117 targets for 866 yards and four touchdowns. London showcased his speed, athleticism, and excellent catch radius. He proved he has the potential to be a WR1 in dynasty and the NFL, especially once he gets good quarterback play. Drake isn’t going to win you any dynasty chips this year, but he’s an excellent WR2/3 with Ridder quarterbacking.
London should continue to build off his rookie year but won’t achieve that true breakout year with over a thousand yards receiving and 100 receptions until next year at the earliest. Atlanta being a run-oriented offense, limits London’s receiving potential despite his ability. Still, I project a strong WR2/3 season in which he sees 120 targets, 75 receptions, 916 yards, and four touchdowns. That’s good enough for 11.2 ppg, including two fumbles and a two-point conversion.
Mack had an unexpected career year last year with the Raiders. He finally had some fantasy prominence after seeing 94 targets and catching 57 for 690 yards and four touchdowns. He added four rushing attempts for 40 yards. That will continue to be his career year. He signed with the Atlanta Falcons to serve as their WR2, but he is truly the fourth option on offense. He isn’t going to be more than a flex play at best and likely should stay on your bench. I project him for three carries, ten rushing yards, 45 targets, 28 receptions, 343 yards, and four touchdowns. Hollins could see more than that should London miss any time. That makes him a hold on your roster, but don’t start him unless you’re rebuilding. His 5.5 ppg is not good.
Kyle Pitts had a rough season last year. He dealt with Arthur Smith demanding him to stay in and block a ton. This limited his routes and prevented him from truly growing as a receiver and from a rookie. Then, Pitts suffered a knee injury, and the Falcons held him out for the rest of the season. He’s reportedly healthy now, so you should expect a full season from the TE3 in dynasty. Just don’t expect him to have a breakout season. Pitts went backward from his 1,000+ yard rookie year by only seeing 59 targets and 28 receptions for 356 yards and two touchdowns over ten games.
Kyle will do far better than that this year. He averages more than 12.7 yards per catch but is not near his 15.1 rookie year numbers. Plus, with the addition of Jonnu Smith, I cap Pitts’ target number at 100. He will have 60 receptions for 807 yards, six touchdowns, and play in 17 games. That’s good enough for 10.5 ppg. In TEP leagues, Pitts will be a very good player to have. He’s still got an elite future. However, with this season not his true breakout year yet, you might be able to buy him for cheaper than he is right now. He’s only 23 and has all the tools to be the TE1 of dynasty someday soon.
Jonnu Smith is a massive threat to Kyle Pitts. He has an Arthur Smith connection from their days together in Tennessee, and he will likely take significant snaps/targets from Kyle Pitts. Arthur purposefully requested Atlanta to trade for him for a reason. Smith won’t be a name to own in dynasty, but he will be a major nuisance to Pitts. Just be aware of that when you are negotiating for Kyle Pitts. Smith has zero dynasty relevance right now, but he’s now that thorny player that prevents a player from taking a true leap forward in his stats.
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