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2023 Player Outlooks: Atlanta Falcons

By Hunter De Siver | 7/29/23 |

QB Desmond Ridder
(QB Rank – No.48, 12.5 FPts/G)

After Matt Ryan was traded to the Indianapolis Colts for a third-round pick, the Falcons signed free agent Marcus Mariota one month later. Unsure if Mariota was going to be their future starter, the Falcons drafted Cincinnati quarterback Desmond Ridder with the pick the Colts traded to them.

Mariota ended up being the starter, recording a 5-8 record before suffering an injury. Ridder played the final four games, throwing 73 completions out of 115 attempts (63.5 percent) for 708 yards, two touchdowns and zero interceptions.

Ridder doesn’t have very high expectations going into his second season due to his lack of production (even though it was limited) and the crowded, but talented running back room. Because of this, and head coach Arthur Smith’s run-heavy scheme, Ridder isn’t likely to be drafted in most 1QB leagues. However, the extremely underrated talent around him could give him a boost and potentially get him off the waiver wire at some point in the season.

RB Bijan Robinson

Every few years, there’s a rookie running back that gets so much hype that he’s expected to go in the first round of fantasy drafts. Ezekiel Elliott, Saquon Barkley and Clyde Edwards-Helaire are just a few that come to mind during their rookie seasons. Falcons 2022 eighth overall pick Bijan Robinson is the next running back on that list.

Robinson had a stellar collegiate resume. In two years as the Texas Longhorns starting running back, Robinson totaled 453 attempts for 2,707 yards and 29 touchdowns. He was also involved in the air attack, recording 45 receptions, 609 receiving yards and six touchdowns.

His dual-threat abilities combined with the Falcons’ lack of a star quarterback makes Robinson the logical focal point of the Falcons offense. However, there are some volume concerns with the rookie, given that Tyler Allgeier and Cordarrelle Patterson have proven to be capable runners in this system. Do you trust Smith to give Bijan a workhorse role in Year 1? His current ADP would suggest that’s the case but his ceiling might be more difficult to hit than most fantasy managers would like.

RB Tyler Allgeier
(RB Rank – No.30, 9.8 FPts/G)

Allgeier had a very impressive rookie campaign in 2022: 210 rushing attempts for 1,035 yards and three touchdowns. It appeared that the Falcons had found their diamond in the rough, but that was quickly dusted when they selected Robinson in the draft. It’s likely that Allgeier’s numbers will dip, but it’s still possible for him to succeed.

Allgeier will be a late-round pick due to the Falcons’ run-pass ratio. Atlanta was one of just three teams last season to run the ball more times than passing it. Since Ridder has yet to show much promise, the Falcons will likely have a somewhat similar ratio in 2023.

Based on the hype, Robinson will get a lot more snaps than Allgeier, but don’t rule out a 2017 Mark Ingram-Alvin Kamara scenario where they’re both involved and providing fantasy value. The main difference between the two duos is that the Saints had a pure pounder and a receiving back, while each Falcon is solid in both aspects with Robinson being well above average in both categories.

Allgeier will likely land in the 11-13 round range in fantasy football drafts and be a viable bench piece to your squad. If Robinson should get injured, Allgeier proved last season that he’s capable of filling an RB2 role.

RB Cordarrelle Patterson
(RB Rank – No.33, 11.6 FPts/G)

That’s right, a third Falcons running back has the potential to be on fantasy football rosters this season. Eyebrows were definitely raised when Atlanta selected Robinson because Allgeier and Patterson were a solid one-two punch in 2022. Patterson was excellent in 2021, but the receiving back saw a tremendous drop in production due to Allgeier’s presence: 695 rushing yards and 122 receiving yards in 13 games.

If Robinson or Allgeier gets injured, the 32-year-old has proven he’s capable of replacing them with his dual threat capability. However, his age signals his production could take a dip. Early reports suggest we could Patterson used more as a wide receiver this season which makes sense given the two backs ahead of him. That pushes Patterson into the very late rounds in redraft leagues or a high priority waiver wire add once the season begins.

Drake London

WR Drake London
(WR Rank – No.28, 10.7 FPts/G)

Drake London was the first receiver taken off the 2022 NFL Draft board and he didn’t disappoint: 72 receptions for 866 yards and four touchdowns his rookie season. London finished with the 28th-most fantasy points at his position, despite being in Atlanta’s run-heavy system.

London’s lengthy 6-foot-4 frame allowed him to haul in passes where only he could grab them and was very efficient, recording just three drops. However, he often went into slumps due to lack of volume in the offense. He had a combined 49.4 points in Weeks 1-3, but just 32.5 in Weeks 4-9. He was back on track in Week 10 (14.8 points), but combined for 12.1 the next two weeks. However, he finished four of the final five games with at least 14 points.

Since Robinson will be the opponent's likely focus point, London won’t be under the microscope and I expect him to perform slightly better during his second season. He’s a lower-end WR2 in fantasy football that’ll likely go in the 5th round of redraft leagues.

WR Mack Hollins
(WR Rank – No.46, 9.1 FPts/G)

When Raiders Pro Bowl tight end Darren Waller went down with an injury last season, receiver Mack Hollins took over his target share. Hollins hauled in 57 receptions for 690 yards and four touchdowns in 2022 – all career highs. The Raiders let him walk in free agency which allowed Hollins to find his fourth home in Atlanta this offseason.

Hollins is expected to be a WR2 once again, but with the amount of talent around him, his target share will likely go down. An argument could be made that having more talent around you may shift the defensive focus away, but that mentality is only meant for some of the best WR2s and tight ends in football.

Hollins isn’t likely to be drafted given he’s probably fourth in line for targets (behind Bijan) in this low-volume passing attack. However, due to his success last season, he’ll be a waiver wire addition should anything happen to London or Pitts.

TE Kyle Pitts
(TE Rank – No.33, 7.6 FPts/G)

Where to begin? Kyle Pitts was one of the few college tight ends this decade that performed better than most receivers. He was a top-10 Heisman Trophy finalist in 2021 and the Falcons selected him fourth overall in the 2021 NFL Draft, yet no one batted an eye at the jaw-dropping pick given his immense talent.

He did exactly what was expected of him during his rookie season, finishing with the sixth-most fantasy points among all tight ends despite scoring only 1 TD. It was presumed that Pitts would only continue to thrive in 2022, but that wasn’t the case.

In 10 games, Pitts hauled in just 28 receptions for 356 yards and two touchdowns. His 75.6 fantasy points last season were the 33rd-most at his position. Pitts would continue to be ranked high among his peers as analysts expected him to break out. However, that day never came.

Now entering Year 3, Pitts hopes to return to his rookie form and it's likely that he plays significantly better than last season. Perhaps the addition of Robinson and Hollins will encourage the coaching staff to get a more even balance between the run and pass? The addition of Bijan should also shift the defensive focus away from Pitts, easing the pressure off of him.

Pitts is now going at a reasonable price in fantasy drafts, somewhere in rounds 7-10 range which is a nice discount from his 2022 ADP of 65 overall in PPR leagues. Time to hop on board.

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