Back before his team elected not to draft any RBs, new Falcons HC Arthur Smith said he plans a committee approach in the backfield. “We’re not going to have Derrick Henry here,” Smith told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution in April. “So, it’s not like I think we’re going to have Derrick Henry. The reality is that we’ll get multiple backs in here, and we’ll have the way we trust our schemes and the way we teach the details of it, and we’ll commit to it." Mike Davis stands as the clear leader in a group who's next most accomplished rusher is Cordarrelle Patterson. But Patterson will factor in. Atlanta signed Javian Hawkins after the draft. We'll see about Qadree Ollison. And the Falcons could still add pieces. Davis makes for a solid target in current best-ball drafting. Just beware of projecting him too many touches simply because we can't see exactly where else they would go yet.
Despite going undrafted, Louisville RB Javian Hawkins might have landed in the best possible spot. Hawkins delivered impressive production over 2 years with the Cardinals. (He redshirted after 2 games as a 2018 freshman.) Hawkins racked up 1,525 rushing yards in his full debut and averaged 5.9 yards per rush across the past 2 seasons. The obvious limitation is his size. Hawkins checked in at just 5’9, 183 pounds at his pro day. There’s not much recent history of NFL production at RB from players in that size range. It doesn’t help Hawkins’ outlook that he caught only 20 passes over his 2 starting seasons. He’ll need to average much more than 1 reception per game if he’s to present any fantasy value in the pros. Mark us down as skeptical that Hawkins will emerge as a fantasy factor. But Atlanta's backfield is probably his best shot at early relevance. The Falcons drafted no RBs and thus finished the draft with only Mike Davis, Cordarrelle Patterson, Qadree Ollison and Tony Brooks-James on the roster at the position. We'll see how Hawkins' summer goes, but the landing spot makes him more interesting near the end of dynasty rookie drafts.
Has any RB's fantasy outlook improved more than that of Mike Davis through draft weekend? As of this writing (late in Round 6), the Falcons have spent all of their NFL Draft picks and drafted 0 RBs. "It just didn't fall our way," GM Terry Fontenot said of their RB considerations throughout the draft, according to ESPN's Michael Rothstein. That leaves 30-year-old Cordarrelle Patterson as the next most accomplished NFL rusher (167 career carries) behind Davis on the roster, and Atlanta does list Patterson at RB. Qadree Ollison and Tony Brooks-James join them. Fontenot and HC Arthur Smith added that they'll look at undrafted free agents and consider trades, free agents and post-June 1 cuts. So we'll see if the Falcons can add someone better than Davis. He has cleared a big hurdle through draft weekend, though.
After trading down in Round 2, the Falcons selected S Richie Grant from Central Florida. Grant racked up 10 INTs and 258 total tackles over the past 3 seasons. In Atlanta, he should be in line for starting duty right away in a defense that shed safeties Keanu Neal and Ricardo Allen from last year's defense.
The Falcons selected Florida TE Kyle Pitts with the 4th overall pick of the 2021 NFL Draft. It’s the highest a TE has ever been picked. Pitts stands nearly 6’6 and 245 pounds with a massive, 83 3/8” wingspan. As a junior in 2020, he tallied 43-770-12 across only 8 games. That sample included monster lines against Alabama (7-129-1), Tennessee (7-128) and Ole Miss (8-170-4). The 20-year-old has the movement skills and versatility of a future WR1, making him a bit of a cheat code at TE. For further confirmation of his dominance, Pitts tested very well with a 4.44 forty time (98th percentile) and a 129-inch broad jump (97th percentile). He joins Julio Jones and Calvin Ridley to give the Falcons 1 of the best groups of pass-catchers in the league. We’ll probably see a lot of 2-TE sets in Atlanta this year with Pitts and Hayden Hurst under former Titans TEs coach and new Falcons HC Arthur Smith.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport hears that teams have been calling the Falcons to inquire about the availability of WR Julio Jones. Talks like this happen all the time, so this certainly doesn't mean Jones is on his way out. But it's worth noting that Atlanta is up against the salary cap and would save about $15 million by dealing Jones after June 1. "A trade could not happen for cap reasons before June 1, but teams know Atlanta’s brutal cap situation and are calling," Rapoport said. "A deal won’t happen now, but later? Maybe." We'll continue to keep an eye on this. A Jones trade would be a blow to QB Matt Ryan's fantasy stock but leave a ton of targets available for Calvin Ridley, Russell Gage, Hayden Hurst and potentially rookie Kyle Pitts.
The Falcons signed Cordarrelle Patterson to a 1-year, $3 million deal, NFL Network's Mike Garafolo reports. The 29th overall pick of the 2013 draft has settled in as a return specialist and gadget player. He's averaged just 21 catches per season over the last 4 years but did set a career high with 64 carries in Chicago this past year. There's a chance he gets similar rushing volume in 2021 if Atlanta doesn't make any other additions to its backfield. Still, Patterson will only have fantasy value in leagues that award points for return yardage.
The Falcons have agreed to a 2-year, $5.5 million deal with RB Mike Davis, according to NFL Network's Ian Rapoport. It's a sensible signing for an offense with a weak group of RBs. Davis performed solidly in place of Christian McCaffrey with the Panthers last year, including ranking 4th on the team -- and 4th among all NFL RBs -- with 59 receptions. Davis' arrival certainly doesn't preclude Atlanta from making further backfield moves. We'll see whether that includes a pick in the NFL Draft's first 2 days.
The Falcons have hired Arthur Smith as HC. Smith spent the past 2 seasons as OC in Tennessee, leading the Titans to top 12 finishes in points and yards both years. He leaned heavily on RB Derrick Henry but also helped QB Ryan Tannehill to his 2 best seasons as a pro. Tannehill notably ranked 9th and 1st, respectively, in percentage of passes to come off play-action the past 2 years. Consider the hire good news for QB Matt Ryan and the Falcons passing game.
Falcons WR Julio Jones (hamstring) is out for Sunday’s game vs. the Bucs. He ends up missing 5 of the season’s final 6 games. Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage will again operate as Atlanta’s top 2 WRs this weekend.
Panthers RB Mike Davis (ankle) isn't expected to play vs. the Saints this weekend, ESPN's David Newton reports. So with Davis and Christian McCaffrey out, Carolina will be down to RBs Rodney Smith and Trenton Cannon. Look for Smith to handle the bulk of the work, but the matchup vs. New Orleans' top-ranked RB defense leaves him as an uninspiring fantasy play. WR Curtis Samuel should also continue to play a significant role in the ground game after carrying 7 times for 52 yards last week.
Bears WR/RB Cordarrelle Patterson (knee) is active for today’s game vs. the Jaguars. He might steal a few touches from RB David Montgomery but isn’t a viable fantasy play.
Falcons WR Julio Jones (hamstring) is out for Sunday’s game against the Chiefs. Calvin Ridley and Russell Gage will continue to operate as Atlanta’s top 2 WRs. Jones’ absence makes Matt Ryan a shaky QB1 play.
Bears WR/RB Cordarrelle Patterson (knee) is listed as questionable for Sunday's game vs. the Jaguars. He seems unlikely to play after missing practice all week. If Patterson is inactive on Sunday, David Montgomery figures to handle close to 100% of the backfield work.
Falcons WR Julio Jones (hamstring) did not practice on Wednesday. Interim HC Raheem Morris said Jones is "a bit closer" to returning but wouldn't commit to him playing vs. the Chiefs this weekend. We'll continue to track his progress, but fantasy owners shouldn't be counting on Jones in Week 16 lineups.
NFL Network's Ian Rapoport reports that Falcons WR Julio Jones is still hoping to play again this season, despite a lingering hamstring injury and his team being out of playoff contention. Jones recently received a platelet-rich plasma injection in that bum hamstring in hopes of speeding up the healing process. We'll see if he can make it back for next weekend's game vs. the Chiefs.
Falcons WR Julio Jones (hamstring) is out for Sunday’s game against the Bucs. WR Calvin Ridley will continue to serve as Atlanta’s alpha, with Russell Gage as the #2 WR. QB Matt Ryan has been unusable in fantasy without Julio this season.
Falcons WR Julio Jones (hamstring) did not practice on Wednesday. “We’ll take Julio as far as we can take him each week to see if we can get him to play and be productive,” interim HC Raheem Morris said. “If we can’t, we’ll just have to move on for that week and give him another opportunity the following week. We’ll see where he is this week.” We'll continue to keep an eye on Jones, but fantasy owners shouldn't be counting on him in Week 15 lineups.
Falcons WR Julio Jones (hamstring) is out for Sunday's game against the Chargers. It looks like he suffered a setback with that hammy this week. Atlanta's passing game has struggled without Jones this season, so downgrade QB Matt Ryan. WR Calvin Ridley, WR Russell Gage and TE Hayden Hurst should get target boosts with Jones out.
Falcons WR Julio Jones (hamstring) is active for today’s game vs. the Saints. He only got in limited practices on Wednesday and Friday, so don’t expect him to be at 100% for this one. That leaves Julio as a risk/reward WR2 in fantasy lineups.
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